My Personal PGA Tour Schedule: Where would YOU play?
The champions of the 2012 season have ascended upon the grasses, luaus and leis of the Hawaiian Islands. It all kicks-off another much anticipated PGA Tour season. But take a moment to look at the field. Only 30 players have entered the HTOC at Kapalua – 7 players short of the number of players eligible, which is 37.
Tiger: absent. Phil: busy. Ernie: not-in-attendance.
Rory: truant. Luke: missing. Sergio: AWOL. Rose: Not present.
I understand the stresses placed on the top players of the world. I also, cannot begin to comprehend the demands placed on their time and the inconveniences of a trip across the Pacific to Hawaii. But all of this got me thinking. Many of the world’s elite players have begun assembling reduced schedules to conserve on time, energy, additional travel and added family time. The trend can be credited, more than likely, to Mr. Woods himself.
Steve Stricker announced – only a few weeks ago – he would only be entering himself into 10 tournaments in 2013. He wants to spend added time with his family in Madison. I mean, I like Madison. But I’m still trying to figure that out….
Anyways, if I was only allowed to play in 10 events in a season, which events would I choose? This post is under the assumption that I am fully-exempt on Tour and I have no schedule constraints many players would typically have. This all has to do with venues, courses, prestige and personal ideology. I get my pick-of-the-litter!
1. The Masters
The obvious and arguably unanimous choice for a list such as this. Augusta is immaculate. It is, for many, an inconceivable dream to ever stick a tee in its storied grounds. The history created by Bobby Jones allows images of Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to run rampant through our minds. Such thoughts evoke words of poetry and romanticized feelings by fans, writers and golfers alike. When Brandt Snedeker lost his chance at a Green Jacket and cried uncontrollably at the podium, it simply confirmed what this tournament means to people. He said after – echoing the beliefs of many – that he would trade all of his professional achievements for one green jacket. What a dream.
2. The U.S. Open
Unlike the Masters, the U.S. Open doesn’t quite evoke words of poetry and romanticized feelings. It claims respect. It also, conjures fear. The U.S. Open is a tournament of history and strain. Players often say an off-week is a requirement after a week of U.S. Open golf. The tournament’s appropriate onerous nature is what earns its grandeur. I would play the U.S. Open, if only to post my consecutive 86’s and tell tales of it for years to come. It doesn’t matter the venue. The U.S. Open makes the top of the list.
3. PGA Championship
The PGA holds a dear place in the hearts of many PGA club professionals. It is their national championship. My reasoning for listing the PGA Championship in the 3 hole is for two reasons: It is a major championship and it is hosted at amazing venues. The layouts hosting PGAs in the past are immaculate American designs. Medinah, Baltustrol, Oakland Hills and Hazeltine. Valhalla, Riviera, Whistling Straits and Southern Hills. Inverness. Bellerive. It is an absolutely amazing lineup of golf courses.
I attended the PGA championship in 2009 at Hazeltine, the year Y.E. Yang conquered and defeated Tiger Woods. The environment was unlike any tournament I had ever been around (granted I have yet to step foot at Augusta and have not witnessed a U.S. or British Open). To play with the best in the world on courses of this stature is why the PGA sits where it does.
4. Harbour Town, The RBC Heritage
I can sense the questioned faces surfacing on every reader who sees Harbour Town at 4 here. For my own defense, I have three reasons. The first, is because this is My (Troy’s) Personal PGA Tour Schedule and frankly, Harbour Town fits my game. It’s shorter, tighter and demands an effective short game. Not saying I’d win out there, but hey, I have to play to my strengths, yeah? The second reason is because I love the atmosphere this tournament brings every year on the coast of South Carolina. It’s in a quaint little shore town in Hilton Head with the ocean and beaches just off the golf course. It is always listed as one of the favorites by guys on Tour – one of the most popular stops. A few years ago we were close to losing this event. I’m so thankful we didn’t. I would miss that cute little lighthouse on the signature 18th, my 3rd and final reason.
5. The PLAYERS at TPC Sawgrass
The PLAYERS hosts probably the most difficult non-major of the season. For a player who keeps his ball in play, Sawgrass can yield a few low numbers. For those who do not, it is 77’s galore. I would take four 77’s in the PLAYERS except after two of them, I would be packing my bags after a missed cut. I get nervous simply imagining the notion of pulling a pitching wedge on the par-3 17th in front of those galleries. I mean, hitting it in the water is one thing; going to that drop zone and hitting an in-between sand wedge from 78 yards, sideways into that green is another challenge entirely. I do not necessarily like all of the blind shots and tricked up greens, but the challenge of playing in the Tour’s 5th major is too much to turn down.
6. Quail Hollow, The Wells Fargo Championship
I would love to live in Charlotte and be a member at Quail Hollow. Webb Simpson and I would practice together and work on our short games. We would have Bible studies together and just be great pals. Aside from a relationship with Webb, playing Quail Hollow every day would be dandy. It was really cool to watch Rickie post is first career victory there in 2012. Maybe it is a factor in my placing it higher on my list. I think I am just partial to the Carolinas and love the atmosphere of Quail Hollow. Rory and Rickie go 3-wood-wedge into the 18th? I’d love to test my metal.
7. The British Open
I wish this event could be lower, but it is a major. Not to mention it’s history is next to none. I still love the British Open, but I can not rank it near the top of my list. I just do not appreciate the designs of the golf courses anywhere near as much as some of the classic designs stateside. St. Andrews is a dream to play, but it is not because I want to walk around a giant field with no direction. I want to play it for its history and what it means to golf. And that is how I feel about the British Open.
8. Bay Hill, The Arnold Palmer Invitational
Arnie’s event outside of Orlando is one of Tiger’s can’t miss events. He’s won it more times than the average American golfer breaks 100 every summer. Bay Hill seems like a great early season event (from everything I’ve seen on TV) and it always sports a great field of players. Great Florida layout of a course with the world’s best players and Arnie viewing from his comfortable seat behind the 18th is a great selling point for me.
9. Pebble Beach, The AT&T Pro-Am
Celebrities and Pebble Beach. In February? Yeah.
10. Greenbrier Classic
From all account I’ve ever heard/read, the Greenbrier treats the players better than any stop on Tour. They enjoy luxurious cabins and eat top-of-the-line cuisine each day they play. The course is carved through the gorgeous West Virginia pine trees and boasts one of the most beautiful white clubhouses I’ve ever seen. It’s a fantastic event, despite not luring the best players in the world on a consistent basis. I would lavish in the beauty of a week at the Greenbrier.
And that’s all I got to say about that. As for your top 10, what say you?