Originally published June 16th, 2016.
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You know what wonderful issue I am often confronted with as a Pittsburgher? There are too many things going on at once. Sometimes, I have to put one awesome event over another.
Wednesday provided an interesting dilemma - the opportunity to watch the practice rounds at the 2016 US Open Golf Tournament at Oakmont Country Club, or to head downtown and watch the Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup victory parade. My extreme anxiety at the idea of having to compete for parking downtown with thousands of other fans made me pick golf over hockey.
For the record, the parade looked awesome.....
... buuuuutttttt I'm still thinking about how hard it would've been to find parking.
Instead, I drove to Oakmont Country Club and spent the afternoon meandering the course. Oakmont Country Club has held more major golf tournaments than any other course in the Country.
The course is also considered one of the hardest in the world. (Pittsburgh has many unforgiving slopes.)
I actually like hockey and played it for a few years. On the other hand, golf? Me? No.....
For that reason, I had a pretty unique perspective on the tournament. It's a privilege that I have freedom of speech. However, that right unfortunately allows me to speak about topics I have no knowledge about...... like golf.
So, without further ado, I bring you...
A timeline of thoughts as an outsider at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont Country Club:
12:00pm: Arrival outside of Oakmont Country Club. It is pretty confusing where to enter. I passed the admission gate twice before finding the correct place. One would think the guys selling $50 parking on their lawn across the street could have pointed me in the right direction, but no.
12:05pm: There is a lot of walking before I even get to the course. I think walking is a large part of golf. I love walking so my opinion golf has already improved within 5 minutes of arriving.
12:10pm: I have concluded that this is the uniform to spectate the tournament. I wish I had known.
12:20pm: The weather is amazing. I would golf if it meant getting to hang out for hours in weather like this. Why have I never golfed before?
12:35pm: It is really warm out. I am impressed with how many people are willing to stand in the sun for this. That is dedication. I admire that.
12:40pm: I have seen many people with beer.... are they VIP or something? Can I get one too?
12:50pm: I pause at a hole. I cant even tell the difference between who is hitting the ball and who is a caddy. The ball is hit 3 times and 3 times I miss the entire sequence and don't even see the ball once.
12:55pm: First concession stand I found does not sell alcohol. They encourage me to chase after some guy walking by with a beer and ask him where he got it. Thank you, but I am not sure I am so desperate for a drink as to flag down another guest (yet).
1:00pm: As I predicted, the beer found me! $7.50 for a Blue Moon is very reasonably priced. I have never been to a professional sporting event with such affordable alcohol. My opinion of golf is majorly improving (there is a great pun in this sentence).
1:10pm: A drunk man just told me I look great and tried to kiss me. I politely evaded him. First, refer to the time of this happening. 1:00 PM. I really wasn't aware that was the vibe at major golf tournaments.
1:15pm: Because everyone is wearing the same thing, I have already done four double takes because I thought I saw my dad, and two because I thought I saw my brother.
1:25pm: Initially I thought everyone was wearing visors and caps to achieve a "golf chic" look. As it turns out, they actually provide a lot of protection from the sun where otherwise your face would just be roasting for 6 hours.
1:40pm: I can't believe how many people are here for the practice rounds. So many people care about golf. That is really cool. I am having a really nice time spectating this event.
2:00pm: Everyone is talking in what I assume is a different language. I have overheard so many phrases that only exist in the "language of golf".
2:15pm: I have started using the other language to my advantage. When I have to make a choice in which direction to turn, I wait for someone to start talking about something I don't understand. I assume they know a lot about golf and go down the path they pick.
2:30pm: I want to get another beer but because of the heat I think I am dehydrated and not sure it would be a good idea... important life advice - always know your limits!
2:40pm: I am going to hang out at this hole for a bit to watch the golf.
3:15pm: This is really great. Not sure how much longer I can sit in the open sun. I am impressed with the thousands of people who withstand the heat for the love of the sport.
3:20pm: The more I watch the more I can say I don't understand anything but I can appreciate the skill. I don't want to say more than that because I will 100% make a fool of myself. Please go to anyone else on the internet for in depth golf analysis.
3:25pm: The man with these binoculars has the right idea.
3:30pm: Get up and start moving and wow, okay, we have to cross a bridge over what I assume is the PA turnpike? How did I not hear that before?
3:40pm: It is amazing when people recognize the clubs the golfers are using from a distance.
4:00pm: Okay, I want to see the famous bunker but I must throw in the towel on this heat. I hope to return this weekend and I need to save something for then.
4:10pm: I am exhausted. I have serious respect for those who continue this all day. The trek back across the course is a last hard for me.
4:20pm: It appears certain areas of the course will take a beating from the thousands of visitors:
5:00pm: Back home and immediately devouring a popsicle while rubbing an aloe vera plant on my arm. I didn't realize I was such a wimp in the heat!
The following day: In conclusion, I was very happy with my afternoon on the golf course. This was a completely new experience for me to the point where I felt like an anthropologist studying a new culture. I have deep respect for anyone with a passion - whatever it is, I think it is amazing when someone shows real passion. Being at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont Country Club allowed the opportunity to see so many people enjoying themselves watching professional golf, and that was my favorite part.
Additionally, I may start actually trying to at least understand golf a little bit...... baby steps.
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