Am Tour Nationals: The better half


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Among the 500 competitors at this week's Golf Channel Am Tour Senior National Championships, some came with buddies or met other players here, while others brought their wives or girlfriends along.

For those participants worried that their gal may be bored while they do battle this week, they need not worry, especially on Tuesday morning.

That's because all the wives and girlfriends on hand were treated to a welcome brunch by the tour. Of the 150 who turned up in the Sawgrass Marriott atrium, they enjoyed mimosas, bloody marys, omelets, fresh fruit and more. Masseuses were even on hand to offer a brief neck massage.

'It's really nice that they take the spouses into consideration,' said Betsy Dayne, here from New York with her husband Doug. 'It's nice not to be relegated to waiting for them. The time goes by faster. 'Before you know it, they'll be back [from the course], happy or sad. And this place (Sawgrass) is magnificent.'

Between the time their husbands spend warming up before the round, competing over 18 holes (maybe having a 19th hole pint or two) and getting back to the hotel, that makes up the majority of the day. That's why the Am Tour makes a point to make the women feel welcome on Day 1.

Some lucky 'WAGs' of the 150 in attendance won a little swag: spa treatments (won by Cindy Gossett, pictured), shopping and dinner certificates were raffled off. The women were of all ages and from all over the country, but seemed to mingle instantly. After all, they all had a common interest: their golf-obsessed men and all the hole-by-hole, nightly recaps and midnight studying of yardage books in bed the night before competition.

The PLAYERS Stadium course is the big reason why many of the 1100 competitors in the national tournament signed up, but the Sawgrass Marriott's amenities is a big sell for the gals, who may be on their own during the day. But after asking what their plans were for the week, it'll probably fly by: spa treatments, shopping and trips to the beach are all on the agenda. They even said they'd try to get out onto the course to support their husbands.

'They're like kids in Disney World,' laughed Liz Bernard, along with Karen Acebedo and Dayne, who met each  at the brunch. 'There are some courses they just HAVE to play.'

Some Am Tour major hosts seem to curry favor with the wives more than others. Acebedo, here with her husband Lee, says they always look out for the Las Vegas events. On opening night, when many of next season's major championships were announced, the big buzz amongst the women was the revealing of the Hawaii Championship, which will be staged at Kapalua (and most gals probably know there is a Ritz-Carlton Resort onsite) this December.

'They haven't even put the registration up yet,' said Acebedo. 'But we made the reservation for the hotel and the flight. We're going.' 

I asked these gals if there was one destination in particular they would love to go to if they had their say, and each agreed: St. Andrews.

Gentlemen, you chose wisely.