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TEE TIME: The PGA is here … Savor the moment

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Tee Time

By Dennis George

At last.

The countdown to the 2014 PGA is ticking down quickly, with less than a week before the best golfers in the world descend upon Louisville and Valhalla.

And I mean the world’s best golfers.

The PGA consistently boasts the best field of the four majors. I recall a few years ago that 99 of the top 100 players competed for the Wannamaker trophy.

And unlike the other majors, the PGA sets up the course so that is it very playable and the winner will finish double digits under par.

I am sure that many of you will be making the trip to Louisville for at least one day. Tickets are still available for practice rounds on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as well as the opening day of the tournament on Thursday. And don’t think the practice rounds aren’t fun to watch. Instead, the players are loose on those days, will hit shots from different places around the greens as they prepare for different pin placements that they expect to encounter during play.

A few thoughts before I pass along some information from the PGA:

• Wear comfortable shoes. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking with a lot of hilly treks, so take good care of your feet.

• Spend time at the practice area. On a few trips to the Masters and to the tournaments held in Louisville, I savored the moment as I watched the pros hit ball after ball. You may pick up a few pointers. One of the best times for me was during a trip to the Senior PGA in Louisville. It was the year (2004 or 2011) when heavy rains delayed play so some of the pros spent a lot of time on the range entertaining the crowd. A group of us were watching J.C. Snead hit bunker shots. He started with his sand wedge, then went to a 7-iron and was just as good with it. Someone asked him to try a 5-iron and he started to laugh. “This isn’t hard to do!” So he opens the blade and hits 5-iron after 5-iron from a greenside bunker up to gimme range.

• Try to get there early enough to walk the golf course. If you’re not familiar with Valhalla, it’s a way to picture the shots the pros are playing once you get home to watch some of it on TV. It also gives you more of an appreciation of how the course plays and the difference in elevation.

• You’ll wear yourself out if you try to follow one of the marquee groups. The lines will be deep, and you will struggle to see the players. Everyone wants a glimpse of Tiger no matter how poorly he is playing. And the PGA historically pairs the winners of the previous majors together so there will certainly be a big gallery with Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy. Instead, consider finding a spot where you can let the golfers come to you and you can watch play on two holes while barely moving. Those that come to mind are behind the second green, where you can watch them play in and then watch them play the par 3 third hole. The same goes for the seventh and eighth holes. Also, if there is a grandstand behind the island 13th hole, you can watch them play that hole and the par 3 14th. Of course, sitting on the hillside behind No. 18 and watching every group play that hole is a comfortable way to watch the action.

• Take binoculars if you have them. You can watch the flight of the ball well, especially if you’re at a green and watching them play in.

• Since there are no assigned tee times during the practice rounds, there are no pairing sheets for spectators. There is a pairings board near the main spectator entrance, and it is continually updated as players begin their rounds from either the 1st or 10th tee.

 

Parking

Two complimentary public parking lots with shuttle service to and from Valhalla Golf Club will be available for the 2014 PGA Championship, Aug. 4-10.

Churchill Downs — Parking is located inside Gate 10 off Longfield Avenue.


Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium — Parking is located in the Green Lot off South Floyd Street.

There will be no public parking at Valhalla Golf Club or the surrounding community during the PGA Championship. There will also be no walk-in access to any gate surrounding Valhalla Golf Club.

Shuttles from the PGA Public Parking Lots to the Main Bus Terminal at Valhalla Golf Club will be air-conditioned motor coaches. Bus service will begin at 6:30 a.m. and end a half-hour after gates close.

The gates are scheduled to close at Valhalla at 8 p.m. during the practice rounds and at 8:30 p.m. during the tournament play.

 

Photos and autographs

Cameras are only allowed at Valhalla Golf Club Monday through Wednesday, and are not permitted on-site during championship rounds Thursday through Sunday. Mobile device cameras may not be used to take photos during championship rounds. Autographs may be requested and given at the contestants’ convenience at the practice range and putting green during practice rounds only.

 

Mobile devices

We’re all addicted to our mobile devices (my buddies think I would die if I didn’t have mine with me 24/7), so heed this one.

Guests may accept or make phone calls in designated “Phone Zone” areas throughout the golf course, primarily near concession stands. Digital messaging and checking data are allowed on the golf course. Mobile device camera use is NOT permitted during the Championship Rounds. No video recording will be permitted at any time during Championship Week.

 

Junior admission policy

To provide the ultimate family entertainment value, the PGA of America offers up to four complimentary junior admissions with every paid adult ticket. Junior admissions apply to youth age 17 and under, and may be obtained at the admission sales and will call office located at the main spectator entrance on the day of entry. Junior tickets do not gain access into private hospitality areas.

 

Long drive contest

For those of you who enjoy watching the big guys hit it a mile, the PGA will host the return of the PGA Championship Long Drive Competition, which originated in 1952 when the Championship was conducted at Big Spring Country Club in Louisville.

During a practice round on Tuesday, Aug. 5, all players will be offered the opportunity to hit one tee shot from the No. 10 Tee. The ball will have to come to rest in the fairway to be eligible to win the Long Drive Competition.

 

Dennis George is a contributing writer for The Kentucky Standard and can be reached at dmg11854@gmail.com.