One week from today, a golfer will stand on the shores of Lake Michigan, hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy after emerging victorious in the 2015 PGA Championship.
However, preparations for the tournament began long ago, and even more work was being completed at Whistling Straits this weekend. As the finishing touches were being put in place in advance of the arrival of thousands of spectators and 156 of the world’s best golfers, the public was able to take a sneak peek at the Championship Shops, and scores of volunteers began to learn more about what the week ahead had in store.
I arrived at Whistling Straits yesterday at 11 a.m., one hour after the Grand Opening of the PGA Championship Shops. Hundreds of people were already there, and live music and the smell of grilled bratwurst filled the air.
The walk up to the golf course grounds was lengthy; it took at least 10 minutes to get from my car to the entrance. But along the way, photos of past champions and current tour pros lined the walkway. The scene of a major golf tournament is truly something to behold.
A large grill could be seen almost immediately upon entering the property. My stomach was sending audible alerts of hunger, so I stopped at the stand and indulged on a $7.50 brat.
I then proceeded to head to the shops, which were filled with apparel and accessories from almost every golf brand available. Ralph Lauren is the official clothier of the tournament, and that brand’s presence was felt immediately upon entry.
Nike laid out the week-long outfits of their biggest clients. The exact outfit Tiger Woods is wearing on each day of the tourney was displayed, and carefully scripted. And the shelves next to each layout made it so you could easily purchase each look.
Other items for sale included large, foam golf balls, replica pin flags, plush sheep with the tournament logo on them and a putter cover made to look like cheese. Only in Wisconsin.
After shopping, fans could get their picture taken with the Wanamaker Trophy and the Ryder Cup, two of the sport’s most prized pieces of hardware.
Following my spending spree, I attended my first round of Laser Committee training at the course. It was a classroom session, held in the interview room of the media center. As an individual who went to school with aspirations of working as a sports journalist, this was quite a fun experience. Seeing the room where golf reporters would be asking contestants about their rounds was neat, and an opportunity that not many outside the journalism world get to experience.
The training focused on what laser positions we would be taking over the course of the tournament, as well as how to operate the lasers and manually grid locations of shots taken by the players. We will also be getting an on-course training on Wednesday, which should make each of the committee’s 200-plus members feel even more comfortable with the technology.
It was a really great initial day at Whistling Straits, and it got me even more excited for the upcoming week. My next time up at the course will be to actually watch some golf, as I will be at Tuesday’s practice rounds with my parents. I am really looking forward to spending the day with them at one of the world’s greatest golf courses.
What a week we have in store!