Tuesday, February 9

Tom on Tour: Northern Trust Open

The media fly. Tom drives. The media sleep in hotels. Tom sleeps in his car. The media sit in the media center. Tom walks the course. It’s the PGA Tour, seen and written differently. Following is an excerpt from Tom’s e-book on the 2010 Northern Trust Open.

By Tom Collins

WATCHING THE PRO-AM on Wednesday, I learned to duck quickly. I learned that some of the amateur participants had to spend $35,000 just to play. And I learned that there are actually people assigned to this tournament specifically to maintain the ropes around the golf course.

After one amateur took down three stakes just to clear a path through the trees, this young angry man drove up in a cart that read “Ropes Operator.” I can only imagine what was going through his head. “Aw, these gosh darn amateurs! They’re messing up everything!”

Then I found myself in a press conference with Corey Pavin. At first, I just thought that because Corey was playing this week, the media wanted some insights into his plans for the Ryder Cup. I had no idea that this would be the press conference where he would name his assistant captains. Corey carried his daughter up with him while he read from a prepared statement, and whenever his daughter interrupted him with a noise, Corey offered her the microphone, which seemed to silence her instantly.

I had no idea that Corey’s wife, Lisa, was sitting behind me until Corey started to acknowledge her, saying that he’s leaning pretty significantly on her right now. Doing what, I wasn’t really sure. I’m not knocking either of them—but like Corey said, the team won’t really start to materialize until May, so there isn’t a lot he can do right now to prepare, other than carefully watching every player in the field.

Then Pavin started announcing his assistant captain selections, of which he made four, so that each assistant could watch each match in its entirety on Thursday and Friday, to ensure that he knew who to pair up and select for the weekend. He selected Tom Lehman, Jeff Sluman, Davis Love III and Paul Goydos. After the introduction, Love and Goydos walked up from the back of the room to join in the discussion and to answer questions.

I don’t know what it was about that moment that gave me such a rush. The other golf writers asked their obligatory “strategy” questions for the Ryder Cup, and I just sat there, reveling in the idea that this was ground zero. It felt great knowing that in a few minutes word would disseminate from this room to all points on the globe via the Internet, and I was sitting right there on the front lines.

Plus, now I get cupcakes. That’s right: Lisa made red velvet cupcakes with that special cream cheese frosting and the phrase “USA 2010” to pass out to members of the media. As soon as the box was opened, I grabbed the first one. I felt like a piece of crap after doing so, however, because a professional photographer ran over after fighting through the crowd to snap a couple of shots of the spread. Now there was one missing.

Well, you know what? You snooze, you lose, photographer-lady.

I think the most important thing to remember from that press conference—other than how good the cupcakes were—was how well thought out Pavin’s selections were.

Tom Collins is a former caddie who is following the PGA Tour in 2010. Learn more about his original e-books at TheReluctantJamBoy.com.

1 comment:

ShriekingSheet said...

Great piece of writing! Looking forward to the book.