Have Game? Will Travel!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A day at THE PLAYERS Championship

My day started on Friday at 7 am when the alarm sounded. My parents picked me up at 7:30 am and we were off for the 2.5 hour drive to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (a suburb of Jacksonville) – a journey that took 4 hours once you included picking up our tickets, parking and taking the shuttle to the course in traffic.

We picked up the tickets I bought from eBay with no problems and continued to the free parking lot at University of North Florida. The other options to park would have been to buy a parking pass ahead of time or buy a parking pass from a scalper on the way to the parking lots. We chose the free lot. I have used shuttle twice before for the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando and the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Palm Springs, CA and both seemed to work out well.

This tournament has you go through security before you board the bus. They do so because they do not have a place for you to check your cell phone, camera, etc once you get to the entrance. Also, the bus ride takes over 30 minutes from the free parking lot to the golf course.

Once inside we sat in a spot where we could see the 16th and 17th greens (and sit in shade – the top priority). Since I was with my parents we relaxed at the 16th hole. However, the area around the 17th hole is the place to be if you are looking to meet other people or hang out with friends. Towards the afternoon, it seemed like people were coming to the tournament after work for their Friday night out.

Once the morning groups were complete with hole #17, we decided it was time to follow Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson, who were playing in back to back groups. We caught up with them on hole #4. One of the coolest parts of attending a golf event is the proximity in which you are to the players. After Mickelson completed his hole, he walked to walk to Tee #5 through the galley and handed a young girl his birdie putt ball. Although ropes are up, fans are easily within 2-4 feet of some of the world’s most famous athletes. Imagine being 3 feet from Michael Jordan at an NBA game? It would never happen unless you are paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for court side seats. At golf, you can pay for the cheapest ticket and still be that close.

It took us about an hour to get back to our car once we decided to leave the course enhancing the debate of whether we should have bought a parking pass or parked for free. I feel we should have paid for parking but it might have taken a similar amount of time to drive through traffic ourselves.



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