These 5 PGA Tour Stops Are the Most Fun You’ll Have All Year
Some sports are better watched on television, and some are better in person. Hockey’s a great example of the latter. On TV, the game’s too phrenetic, and you can barely see the puck, making it hard to follow on your screen. Football’s the opposite: if you go to an NFL game, unless you’re shelling out a couple hundred bucks, you’re likely sitting in the nosebleeds with your binoculars glued to your face the entire time.
And although golf is unjustly deemed by the greater sports fan population as a snoozefest, us diehards know it’s the opposite: some PGA tournaments are the biggest parties you’ll go to all year. Although the game of birdies and bogeys has always been a gentleman’s sport, there’s no doubt that there’s ample opportunity to let loose when you’re at these five PGA tour stops.
5. Zurich Classic of New Orleans
A coworker, who’s a moderate golf fan, once told me, “If every tournament was like the Ryder Cup, I’d watch every weekend.” That is to say, the same individual stroke-play events played every weekend, save for some WGC matches, can get stale. That’s presumably why, starting this year, the Zurich Classic will go to a two-man team format, with two rounds each of Four-Ball and Alternate Shot. A few marquee teams headlining the event this year are Jason Day/Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, and long bomber extraordinaires Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes. Plus, the tournament takes place in New Orleans, where it’s been scientifically proven that you can never have a bad time. Beignets, street jazz, and the world’s best teeing it up – could it get any sweeter?
4. Travelers Championship
This pick is a deep cut, and it may come as a surprise, but the tournament at the lesser-known TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut has been previously voted the “most fan-friendly” stop on tour. There’s no shortage of activities during the long weekend in June: a 5K race, an outdoor concert series, military appreciation day, and a fully decked out fan zone. If some of the other venues on this list seem out of reach, financially, take solace in the fact that a practice round to this year’s Travelers is only ten bucks. Besides the fact that New England in the summer is exactly where you want to be, it’s an incredible feel-good bonus that all tournament proceeds go to charity.
3. SBS Tournament of Champions
If you have the means to fly out to Hawaii for arguably the most picturesque tournament of the year, then it’s a no-brainer. With a field that looks like the Masters’ most years, the Kapalua contest invites all PGA tour champions of the last 52 weeks. This past January, good vibe ambassador and bona fide rising star, Justin Thomas, picked up his second of three wins this season at the Plantation course. If you want to partially satiate your travel bug, do yourself a favor and check out the photos on the course’s website. Golfweek ranks it the number one course in Hawaii. I rank it the chillest tourney all year.
2. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Two words: Bill Murray. Sure, there’s an actual tournament after the fact, but there’s no question that the main draw at the coastal California tour stop is the pre-competition festivities, namely catching sight of the likes of Justin Timberlake, Peyton Manning, Condoleeza Rice, and of course, the life of the party himself, Mr. William J. Murray. Even if you can’t make it, make sure you put Skratch’s party anthem ode to the golf comedy legend on your next pre-game playlist.
1. Waste Management Phoenix Open
For obvious reasons, the Arizona staple is the clear winner of the vibe-off. There is no rowdier scene in the sport than the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. There’s no close second. Where else can you see caddie races, pros throwing shirts into the crowd, and Francisco Molinari getting showered with beer after a hole-in-one? Not only does the tournament attract the biggest names in the sport, it’s also the biggest and best party a golf spectator will ever attend.