“Man boys, how cool would it have been if that went in!?”
Sauntering over to an arm’s length reach from the ropes, Carolina Panther star Greg Olsen couldn’t contain his excitement after nearly recording a hole-in-one in Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am. He beamed with pride in the near miss, chatting back and forth with the reasonably sized gallery considering the “real” tournament was not yet underway.
It’s not common for players inside the ropes to address spectators, let alone pose questions and carry on conversations. It’s even less common when that player stands a towering 6’5”- 255 lbs. Well, that is, unless it’s Wednesday on the PGA Tour.
A few years removed from my last Wednesday Tour experience, I was quickly reminded why it’s a brilliant spectating day.
There’s a noticeable calm to Wednesdays on Tour. The stress of the tournament has yet to creep into players minds, making for quite a laid-back vibe. With the majority of tournament preparations complete, laughs are plentiful, jokes tend to fly, and seemingly everyone’s in a good mood. Crowds tend to be smaller than tournament days, too, meaning less standing on your tip-toes to get a reasonable view.
Wednesday’s traditionally are the big Pro-Am day, where pros play with three amateurs and tee times are drawn the night prior. So while you’re left guessing when Tour players will go out on Tuesday, you know exactly when your favorite players will be on the course Wednesday. Ideal for tracking down your favorite guys.
More Player Interaction
Perhaps the best aspect of Wednesday’s laid back atmosphere is the willingness of players to interact with fans. If your a parent looking to take your little one, ditch the hectic weekend chaos and opt for Wednesday.
High fives are dished out on just about every walk from green-to-tee, and I can’t count the number of players who gave signed golf balls to kids without being prompted. One brave 10-year old even bellowed out, “Can I have a golf ball please, Mr. Fleetwood!?” Though that request would have been ignored during the tournament, Tommy Fleetwood happily signed a ball and posed for a quick picture with this young fan. So cool.
It’s great to watch your favorite PGA Tour players tee it up, but it’s an added bonus to be able to get an up-close look at some other larger than life stars. While you won’t always be impressed by their golf games, you’ll be wowed by their willingness to take pictures, sign autographs, and interact with the fans.
On the same hole Greg Olsen nearly made an ace, fellow Panther teammate Luke Kuechly — who was caddying for Olsen — was signing endless autographs to kids on his walk to the next tee. This type of fanfare continued throughout the entire round, and with all due respect to Lucas Glover — the PGA Tour player in the group — it’s safe to say the crowds were most interested in following along for these Panther’s antics.
Next time the PGA Tour rolls into your town, grab the little ones and be sure to get out on Wednesday. Chances are, you’ll find it to be a spectators dream.