Wasted Away Again in Margaritaville

Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt.

Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,

But I know, it’s my own damn fault.


– Jimmy Buffett, Margaretville


I was at Margaritaville at about dinnertime on Monday, Aug. 15 – the first day of the weeklong festivities of the Wyndham Championship – and the bar was hopping and everyone was swaying to the musical stylings of 20 Ride, a very entertaining Zac Brown tribute band from Charlotte.

The Wyndham bar Margaritaville is, of course, based on the chain of Jimmy Buffett’s restaurants that stretch from Myrtle Beach to Montego Bay, from Cancun to Cozumel. (Interestingly, none of them actually serve a buffet.)

The Margaritaville chain’s website lists all of the restaurants’ locations officially as “a state of mind” rather a physical place – it says Margaritaville is “in the tropics somewhere between the Port of Indecision and Southeast of Disorder.”

Now, some people at the impermanent Wyndham version of the anti-establishment establishment were stunned when Jimmy Buffett walked up because they had simply come by to hang out at the Wyndham – while others were anxiously awaiting Buffett’s arrival because word had spread through the lime vine that the star might show up and perform. Others, like me, had heard the rumors that the tropical troubadour, the mid-latitude minstrel, might play, but didn’t believe one word of it.

But Jimmy Buffett, God bless him, did show.

He performed one song – Margaritaville (uh, duh) – and everyone sang along and danced and had a grand old time to kick off Day 1 of the six-day celebration known as the Wyndham.

At first I thought to myself, as Buffett finished up, that that moment was great for everyone. You know, it was certainly good for area Buffett fans, Wyndham tournament promoters and, really, Greensboro as a whole.

But then it hit me that it wasn’t wonderful for quite everyone.

Namely, it wasn’t good for the members of 20 Ride.

Just as quickly as Buffett had blown in – in a helicopter no less – and thrilled the crowd with his most famous and beloved song, followed by a mic-drop see-ya-later exit amidst wild applause, everyone was left staring at the Charlotte-based tribute band still on stage, and I was thinking, “Man, I’d really hate to be you guys right now.”

Ten minutes earlier, they were a delightful tribute band and then suddenly they were –

The band that has to follow Jimmy Buffett.

They were the Not Jimmy Buffett Band.

And I know those band members got a thrill out of Buffett showing up, but, of course, it’s a lot easier to open for Jimmy Buffet, than to close for him.

It would be like if you were a local up-and-coming comedian and the comedy club manager came up to you before the show and said, “OK, kid, you go on after the first comic. As soon as Mr. Seinfeld finishes his act, you’re on.”

You know, that’s not exactly the best circumstances for performing.

I had a few other thoughts at the Wyndham as well …


Such as thoughts about the security people and their metal detectors. Now, first of all, unlike many places you go, at the Wyndham when they wanded you – when they wanded the media at least – they were very, very nice and polite.

“Just one moment, sir. Sorry to bother you, sir, but let me just check you real quick if you don’t mind …”

And, amazingly, they also didn’t make you take out your cell phone, keys or wallet, or take off your belt – nor for that matter did they make you strip down to your underwear and answer questions about famous baseball players to determine your citizenship, like some security checkpoints I know.

Apparently, there’s a little known setting on handheld metal detectors that can detect weapons but isn’t so sensitive that it’s set off by a fleck of gold dust in your stomach from the Jagermeister shot the night before. Who knew?

Someone should tell the security guards at the county’s courthouses about that setting.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I thought that, this week, as we talked, I’d share some pictures of some of the sights and sounds of tournament week. At a thousand words a pop, I guess that makes this about a 14,000-word column even though I was trying to keep it brief. As you can see from all the pictures, there was a whole lot of exciting golf played at the weeklong event.


The Good Lord Almighty did a fantastic job with the weather this year for the second year in a row, though He did drop the ball just a little bit right there at the very end, but all is forgiven.


At the tournament, they had a big pile of sand that was very inviting, but when I jumped in and started building a sandcastle some people seemed upset with me – but it’s not like there weren’t others in there doing the same thing. They made me get out even though my sandcastle looked a heck of a lot more like a sandcastle than the ones those other guys were building.


It was clear this year that the Wyndham brought in a lot of people from outside the area: When I was driving around last week I saw a number of drivers using turn signals.


I heard that Greensboro City Councilmember Mike Barber, in order to help convince Jimmy Buffett to show up, had to make a lot of trips on his own time. Buffett’s presence and the whole tournament were such a success that I say, so what if the public records request I ran on Mike Barber’s travel records show that Barber had to make 17 different weeklong excursions to tropical ports at taxpayer expense to close the deal – including ones to Aruba and St. John’s – with a total bill of $4.2 million and about $50,000 of that going to jet ski rentals and another $100,000 for mai tai’s, frozen rum runners and something called a prairie chicken.

Barber said he had to keep the trips and the hotel tabs quiet so Buffett’s appearance would be a surprise. I say, it was well worth it, Mike!


And, lastly, this is how you know that the Wyndham Championship has truly arrived: I noticed this year that people have finally stopped calling it “the GGO.”

And, sure, I realize the name of the tournament went from being dead simple to spell to something that would stump a 12-year-old national spelling bee champion every time, but you have to admit, “Wyndham” does have a much nicer ring to it …