Strange Gallery at Corning

I went to see the third round of the Corning Classic last week in New York… or some alternate universe.

Thrash TalkDisclaimer: I freely admit that I am a latecomer to the practice of attending LPGA Tour events. With this in mind, the persons and events recounted in the following may seem commonplace or (dare I say) par for the course, to some. From the minute I walked into the gates of Corning Country Club, however, I had the distinct feeling of having entered a parallel universe.

I am not entirely sure what my expectations were, really. Enjoy a day off? To be sure. See some quality golf? Somewhat. Admire certain standouts? Yes. Have a few beers? Indeed. In no way was I prepared for the all-encompassing clown fest which ensued. This isn’t to be, as is perhaps fashionable, demeaning of the LPGA Tour. I certainly don’t believe the Tour is in any way deliberately attempting to attract the most bizarre galleries possible. Neither do I feel that the gallery I encountered is in any way representative of LPGA galleries at large.

Additionally, I am aware that public events attract, and probably always will attract, interesting individuals. I’ve had a multitude of strange encounters at PGA Tour events in the past. This event, however, was silliness to the tenth power. From the moment that I was ushered into my parking spot by a moderately incoherent limping geriatric from the Kiwanis club, I knew I was in for an experience.

On the subject of geriatrics, the first thing that struck me as I marched through the trampled grass and parked cars, was the extraordinary number of elderly persons roaming about. Roaming, or perhaps, wandering, is the operative word, as none in the aging hordes seemed to have any idea where they were going. Further, they appeared to have no idea what was going on inside the gates. I never saw the cavalcade of buses from senior living faculties which much have arrived and jettisoned their passengers, but I can only imagine that they came en masse sometime shortly before my arrival.

Corning Country Club is not a fabulous venue for golf, but it’s an all right place to watch the sport. I don’t think this is what attracted the majority of patrons to the spot, however. Beyond the elderly, who were sleepwalking around the premises, there were a few of the usual suspects: parents with children, groups of business men hungrily pounding $3.25 Michelob Ultras, very close female friends and the inevitable golf spike wearers.

As a side note, I was truly surprised by the level of interaction between players and spectators, even on a Friday. Both players and caddies talked freely with fans on the putting green and while walking to and from tees. The galleries were much smaller than I expected, even following Morgan Pressel’s group, which I may or may not have been doing quite devotedly. Both of these things were quite unexpected, as well. Both paid considerably more pleasant dividends than the other unexpected fixtures of my day.

There were certain standouts beyond those already mentioned. Five, in particular, come to mind.

The Autograph Seeker
This guy was the worst. I was standing by the putting green, minding my own business when a player (Australian, not sure who) attempted to leave the green and proceed the 20 or so odd yards into the clubhouse. However, The Autograph Seeker emerged from the throng surrounding the the area and was not about the let this happen without an autograph, or two, and a conversation.

On a day of weird attire and overall creeptastic demeanors, this man was the standard bearer. He looked like he’d spent the better part of the past 20 years in his parents basement playing computer games and styling himself after Stephen King. He was the definition of awkward, unshaven and greasy haired with coke bottle, wire rimmed glasses. With a dirty red trucker hat, short shorts and old golf spikes (replete with gray crew socks) he approached, pen and program in hand.

After recovering from the initial shock the Seeker’s presence, our LPGA player generously signed the man’s programs and exchanged the usual pleasantries. She handed him back his pen, said goodbye and began her walk towards the clubhouse. For a moment, I thought The Autograph Seeker was going to let her get away. Alas, after she had taken a few steps, he set out in hot pursuit, tapping her creepily on the shoulder as she approached the entrance.

He wondered, of course, if she would be willing to sign a golf ball for him. With incredible patience, the player agreed to. This ritual having passed, she attempted once again to enter the club house. “Not so fast,” The Seeker said, in a roundabout way. He proceeded, then, to converse with her at an unnecessarily close distance for several awkward minutes. Finally, somehow, he let her go. She didn’t run into the club house, exactly, but she definitely moved at a noticeably quickened pace…

Mr. Tweed Shorts
Picture this: an aging boat captain, scrawny, fully gray beard, large glasses, dirty sneakers. The real marrow of this exceptional golf fan was contained between the neck and knees, however. Behold, a red wife beater with full salt and pepper chest hair on display and, a pair of shorts so short and tight that they could only have been purchased in the children’s section or homemade.

I cast my lot with the latter. I believe the man, or his wife, must have cut up and old tweed blazer (red, gray, professor style) and sewn it into these magnificently indecent shorts without pockets, leaving nothing to the imagination as he staggered about with a plastic cup full of beer. I applaud his resourcefulness, I guess.

Camera Phone Guy
I couldn’t believe this guy. Morgan Pressel had hit her tee shot into the woods. I wouldn’t say I rushed over to her ball to be amongst those nearest to her as she played her next shot, but I did move with a sort of determined briskness. Anyways, after the usual preliminaries, she addressed her ball and was prepared to hit when some bro in a cutoff and baseball cap pulled out his cell phone and, I kid you not, started taking video.

I think that my jaw literally dropped. None of the adept marshalls were in the area, so it was up to Pressel herself to turn around say “Sir, could you please…” At which point, he apparently realized that professional golfers don’t generally appreciate you taking video of their swings during a round, especially when your cellphone makes annoying shutter sounds. Who knew?

The Toothless Lounger
The Lounger may or may not have been drinking moonshine out of a Mountain Dew bottle. I almost tripped over this guy while walking in between holes. He had positioned himself beneath a tree in a folding camp chair and was mumbling to himself. He may or may not have been sporting a NASCAR hat with work boots. He was sprawled out in his chair in such a fashion that his mouth was agape, his hat pulled low on his brow.

It was at this point, upon seeing into his mouth, that I realized he had somewhere between three and four teeth, none of which were in very good condition. He seemed to be on the verge of passing out in his chair, from the way his head was flopping about. I had a lot of questions at that moment. Where are his teeth? Why is he here? What’s the meaning of life? However, I just kept on walking. He may be reclining.

Ms. Full Tank Top
It’s not that there weren’t a number of strange women at the event, it’s just that the men were so much more demonstrative and potentially predatory. However, in the interest of fairness to both genders, I include Ms. Full Tank Top.

She wasn’t exactly what you might call a “classy woman.” She was unabashed, to be sure. Over thirty and moderately overweight, she strolled outside the ropes in a pair of white shorts which were much too short, much too tight and much too see-through. However, the centerpiece of her horrifying attire was a red tank top (essentially the same that was sported by Tweed Shorts). It was, by any accounts, much much too small. Additionally, she was quite large in the chest (think watermelons) and she was, as was obvious to anyone, forgoing any form of support whatsoever. The results were… not good.

For as much as I enjoyed the golf itself, the gallery was where the real show was. I confess I had a moment of uncertainty upon waking up as to what attire would be appropriate. If I would have known that I could have worn anything from athletic shorts and a dirty undershirt to a suit, I suppose I would have felt much more at ease. The motto of the patrons had to be “anything goes” or “everyone welcome,” with neither formulation being articulated in a progressive or moderately decent way.

33 thoughts on “Strange Gallery at Corning”

  1. Makes you wonder why the players go through this.

    I have never attended an LPGA event. Was this a reflection of a typical LPGA crowd, or of the area where this tournament was held?

  2. What an @$$hole! So what if the people at Corning didn’t live up to Ben’s standards. This is why golf is a dieing sport, common people feel excluded by snots like Ben. You are doing a great job introducing the sport to the regular Joe, Ambassador Ben. At least you won’t have to worry about fighting for tee-times in 10 years because no one will be playing.

  3. Wow! Ben is a shallow, stuck up asshole! I would contend he is exactly the sort we don’t need in golf!

  4. I agree with Lefty. This is a very unbecoming article that would make any non golf fan wary to attend a tournament lest they feel like they are being secretly derided and laughed at behind their back for their lack of proper attire and behavior.

  5. Honestly, this does not speak poorly of golfers expectations. People in general in the United States need to carry themselves with more self-respect.

    I don’t know when it became appropriate to go out in public and have it be ok to act / dress in a sub-human fashion but I refuse to ever accept that sort of behavior. We would do well as a nation to have slightly higher standards for ourselves. “Proud to be an American”, not really if we are accepting this lowest common denominator as acceptable and shunning them as snobbish.


  6. I don’t have a problem with this article. People should have a little bit of decency and dress appropriately. For months, now, we’ve talked about dress code on the golf course. Now, we’re seeing people going to events looking like slobs.

    It’s not so much what you’re wearing but how you’re wearing it. There’s this invention. It’s called the mirror. Purchase one, preferably full length and ask yourself “Does this look appropriate?” If you have to even think about it, please change.

    Golf is dying, not because of the “snobs” but rather golfers today who think it’s okay to crash carts, drop balls when there is a group behind them and stepping off the green to purchase a beer before finishing out the hole. What happens? People that actually want to play golf are getting turned off. You want to behave, indecently, go to Monday Night Raw. That attitude is welcome. Golf is a gentlemen’s sport. People should act like it.

  7. I found this article funny and witty. I don’t think of it anything more than one person’s experience at an event. Very well written and I don’t think it was meant to ridicule. Moving on though… in an odd way… makes me want to attend an LPGA event… just for the experience. 😛

  8. What an @$$hole! So what if the people at Corning didn’t live up to Ben’s standards. This is why golf is a dieing sport, common people feel excluded by snots like Ben. You are doing a great job introducing the sport to the regular Joe, Ambassador Ben. At least you won’t have to worry about fighting for tee-times in 10 years because no one will be playing.

    Good lord, relax. I don’t know where to begin with the “golf is dying” comment considering the growth and popularity of junior programs. You taking such offense to a silly article written about some silly people he happened to come across I’m guessing strikes a little closer to home that you cared for. So good luck with all that.

  9. The first thing that occurs to me is that I am sorry that Ben’s descriptions were so vivid because I was eating lunch as I read the article. I suppose this is a compliment to Ben’s writing ability.

    The second thought that occured to me is the feeling of surprise I felt reading some of the comments posted above.

    Perhaps there is an understandable perception that there is something wrong with the idea of discrimination. After all, that word has taken on a life of its own. One meaning of the words “to discriminate” is: to distinguish accurately. I certainly wish, in any case, to be distinguished from a pestering, dirty, inconsiderate autograph seeker or from one who dresses in a manner which puts on display those parts of my body better left for a doctor’s office or from one who lacks respect for the moment when an athlete is about to perform (such as when they swing). I can’t believe that it is too dificult for most people to observe some commonly agreed upon dress and behaviour. I find it hard to believe that some people find that certain standards of dress and decorum are in some way limiting, while entirely missing the point that they are nothing if not just plain considerate

    As I see it, even if Ben wasn’t the cool kid in school (and, he may very well have been), he is probably pretty cool, now.

  10. To all — You don’t have to dress like a gentlemen to act like a gentlemen, and vice versa as Ben clearly shows!

  11. I couldn’t help but laugh at this article. Especially after I got done following three guys who looked like they belonged in a bowling alley pounding pitchers and not on the golf course in a 5+ hour round of golf. I’m really more irritated by the length of time it took them to play than their appearance, but one usually leads to the other.

    I make just as much fun of the guy who buys whatever Tiger wore last week and now thinks he golfs like him.

    For all of you to upset that he’s poking a little fun of their appearance, the real shame is how most of the above carried themselves.

  12. I love how people who disagree with Ben’s observations respond by cursing, calling him names, and making bizarre, over-reaching proclamations about his place in the world.

  13. I agree with Lefty. This is a very unbecoming article that would make any non golf fan wary to attend a tournament lest they feel like they are being secretly derided and laughed at behind their back for their lack of proper attire and behavior.

    FYI: If one lacks the self respect required to know what is an appropriate way to appear in public, then you are getting laughed at. I live in Alabama, so I feel I have an expert opinion on public indecency. No, my family and I do not feel like we’re “better than everyone”. But, we teach our children to be courteous to the people around them in addition to basic hygiene. But, since these freaks have leaked into every other public place, I am not surprised at all to hear Ben’s experience. Allow me to share some of mine. As a side note, I must say that all of these were addressed on the spot. I’m my father’s son: 6’1, 235, irish temper, worked my way through college as an ironworker, etc.

    – A man stopping in front of our window one sunday at Mcdonalds and blowing his nose on the sidewalk by pinching off one nostril. In full view of about 20 families eating.
    – Some guy in overalls -with no shirt- parking himself beside us at a little league game. Two things were immediately apparent: He intended to chain smoke marlboros and did not wear deodorant.
    – Thugs blasting vulgar rap music at a gas pump. My grandmother was with me (coming back from a doctor’s appointment).
    – The guy at the driving range I was at with my son who was hell-bent on giving the teenage girl beside us lessons she didn’t need against her will.

    I could go on, but you all see what I mean. This behavior is getting worse because people tolerate it. Dress codes, rules, and common courtesy are going the way of the dinosaur.

    BTW: I’m betting “Tweed Trucker” was the old guy in the homemade shorts!

  14. Can’t we all just get along? 🙂 I think people need to lighten up just a bit and try to see the humor in this article. Would we berate David Feherty for writing something like this?

    The LPGA wants to attract more fans by showboating its young hotties like Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis on TV, so it’s not a huge surprise to see people attending tournaments just to see some T & A. Let’s face it America, sex sells.

    Besides, I’ve been the camera phone guy before, taping Paula Creamer at the Ginn last year while she hit a tee shot. The course marshall wanted to run me off the course, if not for the fact that Paula started talking to me as we walked up the 9th hole… 🙂

  15. When the LPGA used to stop in Dublin at Tartan Fields for the Wendy’s Championship, crowds were quite a bit like they are for the Memorial down the road at Muirfield, if anything they were a little more sober.

    The biggest difference between a PGA Tour event and an LPGA event that I noticed, and as Ben noted, is the accessibility of the players. On the PGA Tour, players have separate walkways, even around the clubhouse, or state troopers clearing the path for them at a minimum. On the LPGA, before and after their rounds, the players mingle with the crowd around the clubhouse and practice facilities. While I do remember a few moving with deliberate haste across the common areas, others were clearly open to striking up a conversation here and there.

    The first time I was at the Wendy’s, minutes after walking in the gate, I was strolling down the path toward the driving range, and I look over and Julie Inkster is walking along beside me, no security, not even a caddy. After the initial shock, it’s quite refreshing to just have a casual banter with a pro golfer on her way to work. While I’ve never seen a player get hassled at an LPGA event, I can see that it could become a problem with certain fans of, oh, let’s say Morgan Pressel. 🙂

  16. interesting observations and in line with what i have seen at lpga events. my only counterpoint is that it isn’t all that different from many non-premier PGA events (think fall series).

  17. Ben,
    I am familliar with the circus that is the general public at times.
    More articles please.

  18. Can’t we all just get along? 🙂 I think people need to lighten up just a bit and try to see the humor in this article. Would we berate David Feherty for writing something like this?

    The difference is that someone like David Feherty is a known funny guy who has earnt his stripes.

    I just think if you’re going to go for risque, potentially offensive humour, you need to nail it or you’re going to piss a lot of people off.

    I just thought it wasn’t funny, so why bother ripping apart a demographic that may well be a good % of your blog’s readers?

  19. Eric,

    I didn’t say everyone agreed with me, but judging by the above, a not insignificant percentage of your readership does. I’m just one man…

  20. I’m with Ben. The dumbing down of appropriateness in this country is appalling to me. Every time I walk through an airport I am shocked by the apparent total lack of self respect and respect for those around them many people display as evidenced by their horrendous choices of attire. I hate going to a golf course and seeing people in jeans and t-shirts. It’s not about snobbery it’s just basic decency. It’s also not about economic status. You can have a low income and still choose to be neat and presentable just as you can be high income and choose to be a pig. I love seeing old footage of golf tournaments and ball games when people actually wore suits. We don’t need to go that far but a little bit of respect is always appropriate.

  21. I am a huge golf-a-holic and was at the LPGA Corning Classic on both Friday and Saturday. I’m happy to say that I am not one of the people you describe in this article, but I’ve lived in the area my entire life and when I read your article I had to LMAO because I know the exact type people you were describing. This was the first LPGA I have been to in 10 or so years and I have to say I thought the exact same thing. In fact I made comment to my uncle on Friday that, “There sure are some interesting people here.” Sure, I see these people all the time, but I certainly didn’t expect to see them at Corning Country Club. Maybe I too am stereotyping, but you kind of expect a certain thing when you go to a professional golf event and I too was quite surprised. I do know however that the Corning Classic was a great event that has been supported by the community of Corning and the surrounding area for 31 years and yes, there were a lot of elderly people there, the same people who have been supporting and volunteering at the event for 31 years. It is certainly going to be missed.

  22. I found this article to be very condescending.

    I was always told that is you don’t have anything nice to say, then you shouldn’t say anything at all.

  23. I found this article to be very condescending.

    I was always told that is you don’t have anything nice to say, then you shouldn’t say anything at all.

    Please don’t tell that to Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Dorothy Parker, Jonathon Swift, William Shakespear, T.S. Elliot, et. al.

  24. Wow! Such passion invoked by some, both negative and positive. I take the article as it is presented and can appreciate it on its merits. Well written and rather humorous!

  25. I heard Ben Alberstadt wore brown shoes with black pants yesterday!


    Why do they let him on the course?!?!

  26. The people you describe sound strange but I would rather encounter them than the idiots who yell “Get in the hole!”

  27. Tennis and golf will always be seen as proper gentlemen and ladies sport. Anyone who can afford the ticket can throw together somewhat appropriate clothing. Not a 3 piece suit or a dress, but not cut offs and wife beater. Use your head.

  28. Ben, this may go to prove that allowing comments to your posts draws as much of a peanut gallery as your event. I am not arguing for or against what you said, nor am I going to argue with people as to the validity of their arguments one way or the other. Instead, I am going to applaud you for expressing your opinion and making an observation that is typically saved for the barbershop or local pub.

    I think that people, especially when attending such an event, should consider their attire and behavior more carefully. You would think that people, regardless of their own comfortableness with themselves would consider others. I can promise you at my home course, if the $17,000+ annual membership fees do not prevent inappropriateness, the residents who are always watching will. Charge/Increase admission, charge exuberant parking fees, and institute minimal dress codes. Common sense is a thing of the past, and people simply do not care anymore.

    Go to your local discount emporium-o-rama. The circus of people lacking in appropriate behavior and good taste, out-number the smiley faces or little round circles on the signs.

    Keep blogging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *