Despite a last minute rain delay, the 2023 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club is now one for the record books.
This was the 84th edition of the golf tournament that was first held in 1938 and for many years was known as the Greater Greensboro Open or GGO.
This year, Mike Barber, former Greensboro city councilmember, former chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and recently retired president of First Tee of the Triad, could once again be found on the first tee announcing golfers as they started their rounds. Barber, who has a reputation for giving those announcements some panache, said the 84th Wyndham is his last as an announcer and that he was hanging up his microphone on Sunday.
Following Justin Thomas on Saturday, sometimes it seemed like half the large gallery had their cell phones out either taking a photo or video or staring at their phone. I couldn’t help but remember an incident back in the day when cell phones were banned from the tournament grounds – sometimes they were even confiscated. During the banned cell phone era, a famous altercation took place when an overzealous Jaycee cell phone ban enforcer tried to take the cell phone away from a Sedgefield resident who was standing in his own yard next to the golf course talking loudly on his phone.
According to the legend, the resident and the Jaycee cell phone enforcer got in such a loud argument that the golfers sent someone over to tell them to quiet down.
The galleries, or at least the ones I saw, were amazingly well behaved and considerate of the folks a few yards away, trying to make a living. Public meetings today are far more raucous than they were 10 years ago, but from my experience golf galleries have gone in the other direction. Maybe with everyone staring at their own cell phone they just don’t bother to talk anymore. Why talk when you can text? And texting is very quiet.
A part of the tournament that is off limits to the vast majority of people has also gotten a lot quieter, but not in a good way. The Irwin Smallwood Media Center in the past has been a hub of activity. The serious golf writers spend a lot of time watching the tournament in the media center because they can follow so many more golfers than they can walking the course. But there are so many fewer working journalists these days, at times it appeared the staff outnumbered the journalists in the room.
In past tournaments it has been difficult to find an empty seat in the media room, but not this year.
The future of professional golf looks strong, the future of journalism not so much.