It's crowded in Pinehurst this week. Even more crowded if you're anywhere near Phil Mickelson. | Photo by Billy Liggett
It’s crowded in Pinehurst this week. Even more crowded if you’re anywhere near Phil Mickelson. | Photo by Billy Liggett

Look, everybody and his mother is writing about the actual golf going on down here in Pinehurst. The Rant would rather take you out among the good salt-of-the-earth people (those who can afford tickets worth more than a week’s groceries anyway) and offer up some random observations.

So here’s what we saw from Day 1 of the 2014 U.S. Open in Pinehurst … a great event on a helluva course.


TRAFFIC

We’ll start about 30 miles up the road from Pinehurst. Traffic this morning in the Tramway area of Sanford at U.S. 1 and Tramway Road was as congested as you’ll ever see it on a non-U.S. Open weekend. Even the new Bojangles was hopping this morning. If you’re driving that way over teh next three days, keep this in mind. If you remain on U.S. 1 after the 15-501 exit, the traffic does lighten up, as signage points spectators that way for parking lots north of Pinehurst. Long story short … expect a few delays this week.


FOOTWEAR

Despite “wearing tennis shoes and socks” being the No. 1 “do” on Pinehurst.com’s “12 Do’s and Don’ts” list for spectators, many many many spectators (a majority of them women and frat bros) chose to wear sandals to the U.S. Open Thursday. The course, of course, has been lauded for its retro look and feel this week, and part of that retro-ness is the lack of cart paths and lots of natural sand, grass and pine needles. It’s great for golf. Shitty for walking.

“Note to self, bring sneakers next time,” said Denise Cooper of Ocean Isle Beach. “I didn’t realize I’d be walking on the beach all day. My feet are feeling pretty gross right now.”

She wasn’t alone. Some women were even wearing the “wedge” sandals with elevated heels. While fashion obviously has its place in the golf world, wedge sandals are a horrible choice for Pinehurst No. 2.


BIG, FAT CIGARS

I was surprised to see smoking is still allowed at these kind of events, even though they’re outdoors and in the open.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see so many cigarettes in the heart of tobacco country, but I was a bit baffled by the regular stench of cigar smoke amongst the crowd Thursday. And the size of some of those cigars … I swear one was the width of a baby’s arm.


WELL DONE, PINEHURST
WELL DONE, RICKIE

I don’t pretend to know much about golf, golf courses or the renovations that went into making Pinehurst No. 2 not only a challenge, but a throwback to the good ol’ days.

I will say this though … it’s a beautiful course. Gorgeous.

I had the honor of playing No. 2 back in 2008 with a couple of old Sanford Herald friends during a media event, and I’ll admit, I didn’t appreciate the moment then. I didn’t appreciate the big names that played it … the Palmers, Woods and Stewarts … and even the presidents and celebrities who’ve walked those fairways in the past.

But I appreciate it now, and I’d love the chance to play it again some day. And that’s the great thing …. it’s a public course. I will have the opportunity to play it again some day. I’m looking at you, Alex.

And kudos to Rickie Fowler for breaking out the knickers, an homage to the late Payne Stewart. Fowler usually dresses like a tool (I cant’ stand the straight bill), but he got a pass today.


MEDIA TREATED LIKE ROYALTY

If you ever hear a sportswriter or member of the media bitch about covering a big event like the U.S. Open, the World Cup or anything on this level … slap them.

Media are treated like kings. Air conditioned media rooms with all the hook-ups and wi-fi you need. Hundreds of big screens. A few colossal screens playing non-stop golf (you really never have to leave the media room to report from here, unless you’re like the Rant and live to be among the massses). A great free buffet. Portable bathrooms that are nicer than my bathroom at home.

Again … slap them. They’re living the good life.


HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Finally, there are tons of fathers and sons out here. I talked to a dad and his twin 10-year-old boys playing the Thistle Dhu putting course for kids, and it was great to see the kids participating and the dads loving every minute of it.

The whole experience makes me want to buy a club for my soon-to-be 3-year-old son and his older sister … not just so I can share those kinds of moments with them … but also because the golfers here make a buttload of money.

I mean … damn. C’mon Drew … daddy wants an early retirement.

 

Billy Liggett is a former newspaper editor, shitty golfer and Rant editor. 

 

 

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