Have I mentioned that we golf? I mean, it’s a pretty loose interpretation of the word for me, but Joel plays well. A few years into our marriage I began to see that I was going to need to either be ok with getting left behind for hours on end while Joel went golfing or pony up and learn myself. I’d taken lessons as a kid but hadn’t played since, so I was quite rusty, but I slowly but surely got better to the point I am at now, which is passable. I can make it through 18 without having to do a scramble (most days) and I contribute to a scramble format. And I don’t play enough to be anything more than that, so I’ve accepted my place in the golfing world!
Joel, on the other hand, is much more committed. He plays almost every day in the summer, and it shows in his game. His commitment to the sport does not end on the course, though. Joel also loves watching golf on TV. Obviously the majors are always on, especially during the Sunday round, but Joel even has other tournaments playing frequently and keeps tabs on who’s who in the golfing world. While I appreciate a good competitive last round, I’ve never been much for watching golf on TV, but I would soon learn, thanks to the QuickenLoans National at the TPC Potomac, that I’m an absolute sucker for watching golf live. And so began our sports trip to the DMV!
When I was looking at tickets for the tournament, I had two thoughts in mind:
I’m not a jostler, so really #2 is what lead me to splurging a bit and getting tickets in the Independence Pavilion. This covered area overlooked the 16th green and came with complimentary food, beer, and wine. While it was definitely the pricier option, I think it was worth it.
We got in later than expected the night before, so we got a bit later start than we’d planned the next morning. By the time we’d arrived, play had just started, so we wandered around a bit before falling into the group following Ricky Fowler and Tiger Woods, the two major stars in the field. While it was cool to be so close to those guys, we could hardly see anything (darn jostlers), so we went ahead and made the trek to the pavilion.
As the day went on, I came to realize that there were two major perks to the pavilion besides the food and drinks: bathroom access and shade. We never had to wait in lines to go to the bathrooms, which were right behind where we were at, and I was, in short, underprepared for the Maryland heat. I would have STRUGGLED had I been out in the sun all day. As it were, we got to relax in the shade (which was still very warm) with drinks and watch some of the world’s best compete. Tiger and Rickie both parred the hole, as did most of the golfers that day, but we did see a few birdies and showed our appreciation.
The tournament ended a couple of days later with Tiger finishing tied for 4th, Rickie 12th, and Francesco Molinari winning the tournament. Both Rickie and Tiger shot their lowest rounds the day we were there, so I like to think we were good luck!
Complimentary buffet style food in the middle of the golf course... you have to keep your expectations realistic. It was fine, and we were paying for the view and experience, so I’m not going to complain. They did have a hard time keeping waters cold due to the heat and limited access to ways to cool them, but again, overall, everything was fine. I’m sure the course had other food somewhere that was maybe better, but we had paid for our seats and didn’t want to venture out or risk missing any of the shots. And after the day of golf, we dashed off to catch a baseball game, so no stops in Baltimore (on this day, at least).
I gathered that the course doesn’t have much by the way of nearby parking, so instead we parked in a parking garage a short distance away that had a shuttle bus to and from the course. It was easy to find and we didn’t have to wait long for the shuttle in either direction. Upon arrival, we milled around all the booths that have set up selling golf gear and technology and also stopped by the driving range to watch the pros do their thing. I’ll never forget the sound of those guys hitting a ball. It just sounds so much crisper than anything you’ll hear at your local course. Those guys are amazing.
While the course was actually closer to Washington DC, we stayed in Baltimore the night before and after and drove down (which took approximately an hour). Had I known our flight there was going to get delayed and we would be getting in so late, I might have opted to stay in DC, but I still think it worked out well. We had activities in Baltimore planned in the days following before we did our DC stop, and we still would have been tired either way. The Airbnb was a “Stadium Chasers Special” as I like to call them; it was the cheapest option I could find that was still safe and moderately convenient. It wasn’t in the best part of town (nothing too close to a hospital in a big city is), but we always had an easy time finding parking and we never felt unsafe.
This gave me the itch for future golf tournaments. It reminded me a lot of baseball. Slow-paced with little moments having the chance to make big differences, I know it’s not for everyone. But I’ve always said that baseball is about the experience, and golf is the same way. The view, the elements, and the world’s best all coming together on a warm day. What could be better than that?
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.