Speaking of sports, as I've been doing this week, today I went to the PGA's Accenture Match Play Opening Round at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain just north of Tucson in Marana.
I give Marana a shout-out because their police officers were patrolling the area around the clubhouse and the corporate tents (have to watch out for those tipsy business types) in long pants, long sleeves and protective vests (they couldn't all be the same kind of chubby, now could they?!?). To those of you in real winter let me remind you that here in the desert southwest we've been enjoying clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70's for the last week or so. I was warm in shorts and a polo shirt; those peace officers must have been broiling. So, thanks, Marana, for keeping us safe this afternoon.
Miss Marjorie and I joined the queue for the shuttle buses from the non-VIP parking lot at 9:15am. An hour later, we were deposited at the Clubhouse and were able to walk right in. We're still not sure why the screening process at the parking lot took so long, but any annoyance we felt was vanquished by the setting and the greetings and the ease of the viewing.
Without Tiger or Phil, there weren't very many people in attendance so we could walk right up to the ropes separating the greens and fairways from the spectators. Not being a golfer, everything was new to me. Miss Marjorie was a patient explicator (one of her many talents) and her delight in being 5' from Retief Goosen was contagious. I started to look for stars (okay, for names I recognized) and there were Els and Garcia and Sabbatini (throwing his club - what a brat) and Furyk and Kim and that was enough. We strolled and chatted with the Conquistadores about volunteering at the event and the weather and how much we all love Tucson.
And ultimately, that's what it was all about for me - a love fest for my new home town. Golf is boring, though I now have a greater appreciation for the skills required to send that dimpled sphere sailing through the air only to have it land on an undulating surface. TBG's been telling me for years that the balls don't land on the flat ground; today I saw what he meant. Some of this terrain was serious mini-golf-land.
The concession stands were line-less-ly serving up Nathan's hot dogs with a smile, and for $9.50 we filled our bellies and had 2 quarters left for the Mountain View High School Safe Grad Night donation jar on the counter. Though cameras and cell phones and bags larger than 6"x6"x6" were banned, water bottles were allowed. Properly hydrated by our own foresight and planning, we continued strolling, trying to find the back 9.
Eventually, we'd covered the entire course, seeing way too much of Stewart Cink and not enough of players sinking their first putts. While we never seemed to be at the hole from which the cheering was emanating it really didn't matter. The sun was out and we were smiling. The grass was fantastic - long and thick and uniformly green with individual plugs easily visible when the blades were pushed to the side (yes, I'm more of a gardener than a golfer...) - and the saguaros were plumped up from last week's rain.
There was a certain well-bred, well-fed, well-endowed smugness to the whole scene. I wonder if the crowd would have been composed differently had Tiger played? Not larger; that's a given. But there was a notable same-ness to the faces and the outfits amongst the spectators which might look more colorful had Eldrick been there.
In a way, it felt like a throwback to an easier earlier time in America..... and, I can't deny it, it was really really nice.