Hello world. No, that’s not quite right, I think I’ve heard that somewhere before in the world of golf, but I will quickly move on. I want to thank Erik for taking a chance on letting me try my hand at golf reporting for The Sand Trap. This is really my first time writing about golf and I hope to dig up some interesting stories while I am at the finest PGA Tour stop in the Piedmont Triad area (read Greensboro)!
I am an unabashed golf nut. I first held a club at the age of 23 and somehow I was hooked. I bought some clubs at a Wal-Mart somewhere in Pennsylvania and beat balls around courses in PA from State College to Danville to Erie. I took many (mostly forgettable) lessons and never seemed to get any better than a weekend hacker-duffer. Finally, I ran into the Stack and Tilt crew and things have become so much better for me over the past 1.5 years. I can actually hit the ball. Sometimes with a push-draw! That makes me very happy.
Well, back to the story. I moved to the Greensboro, NC area about 6 years ago. I was very excited, as I knew this was the home of the Greater Greensboro Open! I figured that I would finally get a chance to see professional golfers ply their trade. Did I ever! My first year (when the tourney was sponsored by a certain automobile company) here I was able to attend the event at Forest Oaks Country Club. I had never been to a championship-caliber golf course and was simply amazed at the manicured fairways and the deep rough. Watching the pros launch tee shots off of the first tee literally gave me goosebumps Ð I had never heard that sound before! I ended up walking around following Tom Lehman, Eric Axley, Charles Howell III, John Daly, and Corey Pavin. I read articles in the local paper about “washed up has-beens” but the golf I saw didn’t indicate that at all! I was proud and excited to have a PGA event in my hometown. Driving back and forth on the interstate and seeing all of the signs with the Tour logo giving directions brought a smile to my face. I knew I had to work the event.
Somehow I met Nanette. Not really sure where – but the next year she called and asked me if I’d like to assist her in the Players Lounge. No brainer.
No, it wasn’t glamorous. Players tend to be cordial and polite, but they are in Greensboro to do a job and to make the cut, not to give autographs to random folks who keep drink containers full and clear tables after breakfast and lunch. I did meet some very nice folks like Bernhard Langer, Davis Love III, KJ Choi, and Aaron Baddeley. I even had a long conversation with Kenny Perry’s wife at one point. Our job was to remain helpful and unintrusive. It was cool to work “on the inside,” but it was a long day Ð every day!
The following year I moved to the HQ/Information booth. Again, it was a steep learning curve as we handled on-course ticket sales, answered phones, served as go-fers, assisted patrons on the course and served as all-around help for players who lost bags, clubs, or needed something five minutes ago! While at Forest Oaks, rumors swirled that the tourney would relocate to Sedgefield Country Club, the classic Donald Ross design that was restored by Kris Spence, one of the leading authorities on Ross courses. I have a number of friends who are members at Sedgefield, and who often tell me that they’ll invite me to play said course, but it still hasn’t happened!
Finally the word was out, and the contracts were completed, and Sedgefield was the new host for the Wyndham Championship. A Donald Ross course on the PGA Tour rotation – what a great draw for the Piedmont Triad! In the midst of all of this news came the creation of the FedEx Cup and the Playoffs. It seemed touch-and-go for a while, but our spot in Greensboro was to be the last event in the FedEx Cup race and not part of the Fall Series. With a date in mid-August (hot and humid) and a position between the PGA Championship and the start of the Playoffs, people in the news continued to whine and howl about a “poor field.” I don’t know about that, as I saw major championship winners like Todd Hamilton, Lee Janzen, Fred Couples, and Steve Elkington show up at our event. We always get some younger players who are working their way up the money list. We see event winners here before they win events. I really enjoy getting to see pros like Villegas and Matteson before they become Tour “champs.” As an aside, it is interesting how the guys often address each other as “pro” until they win. Then it is “champ.” Cool.
So to wrap up, there is always a strong vibe in the air for the Tour to come to town. The volunteers and the tournament staff work ridiculous hours to make sure everything is perfect for the fans and for the players. Little issues like torrential thunderstorms are not a problem – it all gets done. Hopefully I can shed some more light on the inner workings of the Wyndham for readers of The Sand Trap. Please let us know if there are any burning questions that I can try to answer while I am at Sedgefield.
This article was written by Bryan Brendley, a friend and long-time reader of The Sand Trap.