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« The 8802 Is Back! At Least For 2014 | Main | Motion To Dismiss Decision Due Soon In Vijay v. PGA Tour »
Monday
Feb102014

No Practice Round Access For NoTrust Open Fans

I pen a short item and remembrance of practice rounds at GolfDigest.com's Local Knowledge blog after learning the Northern Trust Open is closed to spectators for financial reasons and to funnel more money to charity.

There is a common thread with the NoTrust and other events ending access to practice rounds: several are run by the PGA Tour Championship Management division. Which explains why fan and player favorite events like non Championship Management tournaments such as the Honda Classic and Shell Houston Open are still fan-friendly on practice day (admission is free at the Shell).

The news looks particularly bad when players now Tweet about their practice rounds, as several did Monday at Riviera. The forecast is for a high of 66 with mostly sunny skies Tuesday. A great day to go watch your favorite pro practice.

Well, not anymore.

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Reader Comments (47)

Are you f'g kidding me?!?
02.10.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
All the LPGA events I have spectated at, have been like this for years.

They then complain when fans take cameras to competition days.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJock
I can not believe this development. Golf is one of the few sports that fans can watch players practice (ever been to an NFL practice) so much to be learned, it is a shame.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNo Longer
I have never understood the clamoring, howling autograph-seeking mob waving hats and programs. I-mean what does it prove?? Yes, it's an indispensable-part of the "fan experience" and helps justify a players endorsement-value, but I just don't understand it.

And those who use little kids to get hard-to-get autographs that they turn-around and sell commercially should be banned, or worse.
Don't fans have to pay for this busing? If not, why not? In the UK we are expected, if we wish to go to the course, to fund it ourselves either by public transport or our own vehicles.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephen W
In an equally stupid development down under some tournaments in Australia are reserving Tuesday access for the home course members (and two and a dog turn up).

Tuesday is 100% the best day to attend a pro tournament. You get to engage with players in a way you would never get to in other sports. At the World Cup at Royal Melbourne this year I spent a super memorable 9 holes walking the fairways and chatting with Kevin Streelman (a total gentleman).

Great article Geoff.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewP
Financial reasons? What a bunch of BS.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterrgw
What an idiotic development. It is so stupid there has to be some deeper explanation.
1) Does Riviera not want the proletariat trampling their grass unnecessarily?
2) Does the membershio -- and the Tour staff -- prefer have he place to themselves?
3) Have heavy hitters in the neighborhood created a fuss?
4) Is it the sponsors doing? Do they want unfettered conditions to do corporate entertainment?

It stinks, I tell ya.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterClaude
One of the things that hooked me as a kid was being dropped off at our annual PGA Tour event on Tuesday and Wednesday and watching the pros practice on the range. I would stay out there till dark watching guys like Tom Watson, Kermit Zarley, Andy North, hit balls to their caddies shagging with baseball gloves. Great memories. It's a shame to hear this.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Yet they want fans to pay for tickets Thursday - Sunday.

Great promo. (dripping with sarcasm)

@ no longer "Golf is one of the few sports that fans can watch players practice (ever been to an NFL practice) so much to be learned, it is a shame." And in a casual environment - a real shame, especially for the youth.
They don't want fans at the course? Then I suggest that the fans stay home Thursday - Sunday and watch the TV coverage and maybe go play some golf.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
One of my favorite memories was listening to Dave Marr talk to spectators on a Tuesday at Riviera. He was hitting balls on the range and talking between every shot. He seemed to enjoy it as much or more than the listeners.

For true golf lovers, the players are truly at ease on Tuesday and the conversations with each other give you a sense of them just being normal human beings.

Once on a Tuesday at Riviera, John Daly stood on the little alternate tee at the 1st at Riviera hitting shots. He kept trying to hit his tee ball over the barranca. I think someone told him George Bayer had done it. The few of us watching were having fun watching that!

Another time watching Ben Crenshaw, I was wondering what irons he was using. Reaching over the rope, as the caddie was standing next to the bag with it upright, I turned one so I could see the brand. The caddy, said, "hey no touching the clubs."
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLynn S.
This hiding behind "charity" is nauseating. If they truly want to be charitable, open up the Tuesdays to fans at a discount or free rate and take the cost of the buses on the chin. Be charitable to fans of the game. Better yet, cut some of those bloated salaries handed out in this 'not for profit' organisation. 'Cost benefit analysis:' what a clown.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
You do realize this event, like most on Tour (but not Bay Hill), is set up as a 501 organization, right? I think a deep dive into the 990's is in order ;0)
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Sad. And another reason for LA golfers to regret the loss of Tiger's tourney at Sherwood every year...
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
Lynn S...in the Jerry West thread you wondered how much OD Vincent might get paid in his new role -- the last tournament related name to appear in the 990's I've been able to find so far was Tom Pulchinski (their 2009 fiscal year, 9/09 to 9/10). Tom is still listed as 'Tournament Manager', works below Mike Bone who is 'Tournament General Manager'....I presume the 'Executive Director' (OD Vincent) is above both of them...

...in '09 Pulchinski was paid $180,000 in salary and $5400 in other benefits from "related organizations". I suspect the people he works for make more than him.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
So much for grass roots, growing the game, investment in the future, etc. Tuesday's are absolutely the best time for young golfers to gain first experiences to the Pro game. Way more laid back so you can teach about being quiet and respectful without someone starring down a 10 footer for their life. Way safer without 96+ car dealers, politicos and other sniffers teeing it up in a ProAm.

Here's an idea: run fewer buses! At Quail I ride the bus every year on Tuesday, last 3 with one or two of my daughters. 6 buses parked, and only 3 people on board (not including volunteers).

It's a bad idea.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNC Phyllis
exactly NC...all the bullshit talk about growing the game , yada yada and then you read crap like this
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterchicago pt
Tuesdays are great, as all noted. More reasons to stress the ''P'' in PGA.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
We've already seen how much actual money trickles down to the charities. Plus practice rounds are so much more enjoyable to watch.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
Phyliss is dead right My father introduced me to PGA golf during practice rounds and wouldn't let me go to the tournament proper until I "could act like I had at least a little bit of sense". I did the same with my kids.

Has to be more to this story......
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNo Longer
Lynn S did you ever take Geoff S to the LA Open during the week instead of taking him to school?
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Amen Corner

Don't remember taking him from school. However I would take him on Tuesdays in the late afternoon, knowing it was a casual time to go there.

In fact I emailed Geoff a photo of him and me at Riviera, for his first visit, with the 18th hole ramp to the clubhouse in the background. It was taken by Stan Love. I believe the year was 1974 or 1975. I dare him to post it. He would have been about 3 or 4. A good time to expose him to the Tour and Riviera don't you think?
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLynn S.
Golf must be trying to replicate the debacle that has become Spring Training. Once Baseball started to view it as yet another revenue stream it became an economic game of blackmail to all the host communities. Now the Valley of the Sun should be named the Valley of the Subsidy for all the giveways to pro sports. Well, practice rounds are golf's "training" days - for the Tour to cost benefit everything makes me wonder when all the volunteers needed to put on their show finally do their own cost benefit analysis and stay home. What's next Pay Per View for the WGC and Players?
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
Lynn S. and Amen Coroner
Yes, it is a wonderful photo of Geoff's first look at his beloved Riviera. I remember watching as Stan took the photo--and what a great photographer he is. I believe it was 1974 so Geoff was 2 and a half. And a nice shot of Dad, too!
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMom
This seems silly, but there must be more here than meets the eye.

As I recall, this tournament hasn't exactly been cramming in the spectators during competition. I can't imagine more than 2000 people would watch Tuesday practice. Anybody have any info?

BTW, nice to hear from Mom and Dad in the same thread! Can't recall that occurring.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Agree. It's one of the nicest, most civil things I've seen on an internet forum in a long time.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
Picture! Picture! Picture!
C'mon Geoff, you gotta post. :)
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
Thankew, Geoff. Nice photo, and that is what golf is supposed to be, a family sport.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Best thread ever now! Thank you Lynn S, Geoff S, and most of all Mom S!

My Dad dropped me off at TPC Avenel on Friday morning during the Kemper Open and would pick me up on his way home. Since I was not in school and technically sick that day there are no photos of me at the tournament. The only Tuesday I spectated was the '97 Open at Congressional. Tiger mania was in hyper drive as was the rough.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
tlavin, I was thinking it was possibly fewer than 1,000 on a Tuesday. Heck, in the last few years there have been instances of the hill is mostly empty on a weekend afternoon!

Regardless, I think it's a bad precedent to set. If there's one thing we know for sure the tourney doesn't give a shout about volunteers and they are working for free anyway -- so set your shuttle bus order equal to spectator demand and soldier on!!

Now the other thing to consider is possibly demand for ticket has just fallen off a cliff for some reason -- let's keep a close eye on attendance this week.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Yes, definitely best thread ever!
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnimal Kingdom
Nothing beats walking around with your child on your shoulders like that.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Awww...
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Even the Web.com Tour is cool to attend on a Monday or Tuesday. The Monday qualifiers all show up on the range to take advantage of the equipment give outs and players are very open to talking to spectators who are crazy enough (me) to sit and watch them hit ball after ball on the range. Typically no fee either.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
"for financial reasons and to funnel more money to charity"


If we take the above statement at face value, then,

1-the event LOSES money on the daily costs of busing/security, etc. during practice rounds--i.e they dont sell enough tickets to cover incidential "day of game costs", and/or

2-some MBA thinks they can "increase" the gate on tournament days by "forcing" the tues-wed. custs to Thurs-sun.

either is a pathetic nickel and dime approach to running a major sporting event.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Here's a newsflash, PGA Tour: anytime one of your cronies does something that Carolyn Bivens would've signed off on, you need to recalculate and recalibrate.

Nothing says "we don't appreciate our fans" more than this clusterf**k of an idea.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
Amen Coroner- In '97, a relative of mine (1st time qualifier) put his name down for an 7:50 am time Tuesday at Congressional. Upon arriving, that morning, he told his caddie to check and see if anyone else signed up to play with him. Caddie came back and said "Clarence Rose", my relative said "great" as he knew Clarence from the Carolinas. Caddie then said "also, some guy named Tiger". Small world.

Nice pic of Shack men.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNo Longer
2014 PGA Tour promotion campaign: "These Guys(executives) are dumb."

Pa Playa, good one. Anytime the name Carolyn Bivens comes up it makes me grin. Was cleaning my office out the other day and saw a Q & A interview with her in an old magazine. She went down quick.
02.11.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
"Here's a newsflash, PGA Tour: anytime one of your cronies does something that Carolyn Bivens would've signed off on, you need to recalculate and recalibrate."

Leader in the clubhouse for Quote of the Year!!
02.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF

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