After years of planning, Ryder Cup week has finally arrived in Minnesota. It’s extra fun to see the golf world focus (again) on the local club that has so many great people connected to it – members and staff alike. The last time a major was held here (the 2009 PGA), I had a media pass and covered it for my old Golfing in Minnesota website. The major before that (the 2002 PGA), I volunteered for one of the charities in a food booth. This time I decided to just put my name in the lottery and ended up with Tuesday practice round tickets.
As I’ve mentioned before, the early part of the week is almost more fun than the competition days because the players are relaxed and will generally interact with the gallery. You can also take all the pictures you want, which is really cool considering how close you can generally get. This time I just used my new iPhone with the “zoom” lens and got some decent shots (see the full gallery after the jump). Tuesday also had the added benefit of the celebrity matches, which included Bill Murray and Michael Phelps playing for the U.S. side. I didn’t know they were doing that, so that was a fun bonus.
I went with the Miller brothers and we both parked our cars at the main public lot at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. The bus ride only took about 20 minutes, but traffic on 169 was terrible and overall it took much longer than I planned to get there. The busses dropped off at Chaska High School and people walked from there to the course. The entry was nicely designed and dropped you into the area at the opposite end of the driving range from the new clubhouse. The super gigantic store was impressive, as was the entire temporary village of tents, platforms and chalets.
We ended up looping around most of the course, as Brad hadn’t seen it before. I’ve been lucky enough to play Hazeltine six times over the years (only breaking 100 half of the time, never below 90) and love seeing how the very talented Chris Tritabaugh has prepared everything for the world’s best. It’s really too long and difficult for me, but should be a great time for these players with the much-lower-than-PGA rough and newly rebuilt fairways. Not a fan of the hole re-numbering, though.
In addition to the U.S. and European players (professional and celebrity), we also saw Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods and my friend Doug, who was the scorekeeper for the Phelps group. We also saw lots of familiar red U.S. Bank Stadium jackets on the Monterrey Security team members that did the mag screening. Many companies with suites at the stadium were represented with corporate tents, so I think there will be a lot of overlap between my two worlds this week.
Levy Restaurants bought Prom Catering last year and created the Levy Prom Golf subsidiary that is providing the food at this Ryder Cup. The tent I went to was out of burgers and chicken sandwiches and had a very long line. I ended up with a $5 hot dog, $3 bag of chips and a $3 salted nut roll. Can’t recall how much the bottle of Mt. Dew cost, but they had many different beverage options. Wish they would add a little variety on the food side, but overall it was fine.
We stopped at the store on the way out and I thought the selection was amazing and the prices were generally fair. Of course the two things I really wanted, the hockey jersey and daily player shirts, were the most expensive ($265 and $90, respectively). I did leave with a signed Michael Birawer print, though, that was only $35.
Getting home was a two hour exercise in patience. The lines at the high school snaked back and forth across the parking line in a queue that rivaled anything you see at Disney. It moved at a decent pace, but unfortunately a lack of busses meant waiting in a pen for 10-15 minutes before we were able to board. Traffic leaving that part of town was horrible, so I got home much later than planned.
All in all, though, very much looking forward to a return visit on Saturday…