Grill Room: Following the Tiger crowd at Valhalla


“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

That was my response to the thought of an inside-the-ropes badge that would allow me to follow Tiger Woods’ group on Thursday at the PGA Championship. I write for the Grill Room, a real blue-collar blog, a blog for the people, by the people.

Rookie move. Here’s what I encountered when I found the marquee grouping on the 13th fairway on Thursday. Pretty, huh?

Despite being 10 rows deep at most times while following the greatest golfer of his generation, I wasn't going to get down. I love being in close, confined spaces with strange people I don't know. If you didn't pick up on the sarcasm font there, you need to get your computer screen checked.

Anyways, here are some of the highlights lowlights of my day with with Woods, Phil Mickelson, a few thousand of their biggest fans from Louisville, and Padraig Harrington, or “The Other Guy,” as they so politely referred to him.

On 14, Tiger missed the green to the left. A wife complained to her husband that she didn’t see the shot. His response, “Honey, you have to watch the ball flight.” You think? She looked like a nice lady, who didn’t want to cause a scene, but there’s a good chance that conversation will have a thrilling conclusion on their ride home tonight.

I couldn’t make it over to the 14th tee in time to watch the trio hit - something to do with the thousands of people in my way - so I stayed back near the 13th green, about 200 yards away. Phil was up and pulled a club. The guy behind me stated emphatically that it was his Phrankenwood. I shot a look back to see if he was a hawk eating a bag of carrots, or if the man was just full of it. I’ll let you decide which it was.

While walking to 16, two men engaged in a back and forth of, “Go Tiger!-Go Phil!” because of course they did. But it was at this point that I noticed a complete lack of “Mashed potatoes!” and "You da man's!” I smiled briefly.

There’s quite a logjam after 16 and we were stopped for several minutes. Being the man of the people that I am, I didn’t (visibly) mind being trapped inches from all of these strangers. The Best Comment of the Day Award goes to a couple of guys stuck in the pack with me.

“This is like being stuck in Walmart,” one said.

“On Christmas,” his friend responded.

These people ... are the best people.

While waiting for the threesome to tee off on 18, a marshal came running over with her hands up, reminding the gallery to be silent and stay still. The cameraman, whose camera she just butted in front of, obeyed her rules by quietly telling her to get out of his shot. She was not heard from again.

By the 18th green, Tiger fans had enough of the stink … from their fellow fans.

One man backed away from the crowd while Tiger was lining up his putt saying, “I ain’t getting up in that stinkin’ a** s*** up there!”

But by the first hole, this group’s 10th of the day, the fans had moved on to Woods’ game.

“I’ve seen Tiger hit three shots today, and two of them have been awful,” one man exclaimed after Woods’ shot ended up way left and in the thick stuff.

Tiger went on to make bogey. Joe Dirt was not deterred.

I looked down, sweaty and gross, and oh so close to the media center. I decided that was enough for me. I would have to suffer through the rest of the round without the running commentary. 

I'm not exactly sure why anyone would choose to spend their day this way, but after just six holes, I've got to give some credit to Tiger Tracker. You're a better man than I am.