PINEHURST, N.C. – I have had the privilege of covering a fair number of PGA Tour events for GolfChannel.com over the past two years – not quite as many as grizzled veteran Ryan Lavner, but a few.
This week, though, I’m working my first major.
Things operate a little bit differently when you’re on one of golf’s four biggest stages, and this week I will attempt to bring light to a few of those areas of contrast. For instance – while you might see ticket scalpers loitering within a few hundred yards of the entrance to various PGA Tour events, this week I saw my first scalper yesterday on my drive in from the Raleigh-Durham airport.
He had multiple signs, all professionally printed, and even had a full tent setup. Did I mention that 1) it was Wednesday, and 2) he was 35 miles from the course?
Once on the grounds at Pinehurst, the sprawl of the entire operation this week is simply immense. I attended the USGA’s media day here in April, and over the last six weeks the resort has undergone a total transformation, with corporate hospitality and merchandise tents seemingly sprouting from the earth. This week, my fellow scribes and I are not housed in a media center, we’re in a media village – which actually is not that big of an embellishment considering the structure.
The enormity of the operation was again on display today when fans and media alike were offered a stacked leaderboard early in the afternoon – and I realized that several of the world’s top 20 golfers hadn’t even teed it up yet. There are many reasons why the U.S. Open is played near the summer solstice, but one of them is because tournament officials needs every bit of daylight to get 156 players around an 18-hole pressure cooker.
Still with three days of competition to go, this much is clear: The majors stand out for a reason.