MUST SEE PGA TOUR EVENTS Mark Your 2018 Calendar and Make Travel Plans
PGA Tour events are unlike any other professional sports experience—pros give high-fives to the gallery and make small talk at the tee box. There are two primary fan experiences at tournaments—fans can walk the golf course with the players or can hang in the corporate suites and enjoy the hospitality (lots of drinks and good food). A combination of both is typically the most fun.
Not all PGA Tour events are equal. There are the four majors: The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia; U.S. Open, various locations in the United States; The Open Championship; various locations in Europe and the PGA Championship and various locations in the United States. Beyond the four major majors—some tournaments are more special such as The Players Championship near Jacksonville, Florida; The Memorial Tournament in Ohio and Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando. Start the planning now—here are some tournaments that promise to be a really good time in 2018.
January 25-28 | Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines GC (South) | San Diego, California
Torrey Pines is arguably the best municipal (city owned) golf course in the world and it’s loaded with history. The South Course was redesigned by Rees Jones in 2001 and as a par 72 it plays 7,698 yards from the back tees. Not cheap, but doable—Torrey Pines is fun to watch the pros play it and then you can return and tee it up for yourself—at almost 7,700—good luck breaking 90. And be sure to make the five mile drive up to Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racetrack, without a doubt one of the best horse tracks in the world.
February 1-4 | Waste Management Phoenix Open, TPC Scottsdale | Scottsdale, Arizona
Hole #16 at TPC Scottsdale is the most exciting hole on the PGA Tour. Typically, the crowd at golf tournaments are quiet, not #16 in Phoenix. Perhaps it was never louder than in 1997 when a young Tiger Woods arrived at the tee—he cut a 9-iron on the 162-yard hole, which was playing shorter on that Saturday. It landed softly, bounced twice, disappeared and insanity ensued. The Skybox 16 is $51,000, here is what is included: 34 Skybox badges per day (Tuesday—Sunday), complimentary breakfast and lunch buffet and open bar, 20 general admission tickets per day, two valet parking passes, 15 reserved parking passes per day and Skybox recognition in the Waste Management Phoenix Open souvenir program. This will be the best $50 grand you’ve ever spent!
April 5-8 | Masters Tournament, Augusta National GC | Augusta, Georgia
The granddaddy of them all—The Masters. Augusta National Golf Club is many things: the most prestigious private club in the world, the most perfect golf course in the world and one of the greatest spectator events in all of sports. Tickets to Augusta are going to run around $800 to $1,200 per day. Accommodations are tough to come by; a room at the Red Roof Inn is $500 a night or get a group and get a guest house at Champions Retreat and play three nine-hole courses by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Stay and play package at Champions start at around $3,500 per player and they can help with the ticket too. If this is a bucket list trip—do it right!
May 10-13 | The Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass | Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Often referred to as “the fifth major,” The Players Championship just might be the most spectator friendly. “TPC” stands for Tournament Players Club and they were built to be more spectator-friendly. The stadium-like golf course means that even short people can see all the action from tee-to-green. Perhaps the most exciting hole in golf is the #17 par three, an island green with an amphitheater-like feel. There have only been seven hole-in-ones at Sawgrass.
Rickie Fowler famously won the 2015 The Players with an amazing performance on the seventeenth—he played the hole six times and made five birdies—including a birdie in a sudden death playoff for his second win on the PGA Tour. More than 10,000 fans were there at the #17 stadium—they saw a show.
September 28-30 | Ryder Cup, Le Golf National | Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
Every other year the U.S. battles Europe in the Ryder Cup—the event rotates back-and-forth. Most events are individual events, but the Ryder Cup is about national pride and it is intense for the players and fans. The roars and chants coming from the crowd are louder than any other golf tournament—it feels more like a football game. Chants of “USA!” and “Europe’s On Fire!” will battle in the stands with the players going to war on the golf course—this event is war.
Golf tournaments are great vacation ideas—Phoenix, France and Ponte Vedra Beach are always fun, but when the pros are in town they’re even better.