Why you need to go to the US Amateur at Erin Hills
I attended the US Amateur on Friday with my wife and friends. All of us happen to enjoy golf but we entered the grounds at Erin Hills with very low expectations. After all, we were just going to watch the amateurs, right? WRONG! This experience was anything but second rate and here's why:
1. It's free! Forget the Groupon of the day! This is it baby! I'm always one for a bargain and this one surprised me. You don't pay a dollar to get on the grounds. Nothing, Nada! You get to see some of the best young golfers in the world. You may not remember that Tiger Woods won this event 3 consecutive years and it was the last tournament he played before going pro!
2. Unprecedented access to the golf course. This is no behind the ropes event!
My party was amazed when we were able to walk out on the fairways and be right by the golfers as they prepared for their next shot. You shouldn't be on the tees or greens, but you can be right up on the fringe of the green while these guys are putting.
If you've ever been to a pro event you know how difficult it is to follow a golfer when he's on the other side of the fairway and you are stuck behind the ropes. If your guy goes right at The Amateur, you can walk over to see his lie and the view he has of his next shot. That is a mind numbing experience!
3. Kibitzing with family members. Most of these guys are using their dads as caddie. They also have family members following them in the gallery. It isn't difficult to figure out who the family members are. They are the folks that are agonizing over every shot of a particular golfer.
We followed a young man by the name of Max Bradley. His dad lugged his bags for 38 holes on Friday. I had the opportunity to talk to Max's dad and was amazed to find out that Max is not going pro! Dad said, "No, he's going to get a real job" to my question of whether or not Max was going pro.
We really became enamored with Max as we watched him blow a 2 UP lead in the first 18 hole match only to come back and make a long birdie putt to win on the 1st hole of sudden death.
During that match I also had the good fortune to meet his opponent's (John Peterson) dad. He had an LSU cap on and I heard him exclaim after the 16th hole, "This kid is killing me". I soon found out from him that John was trying to make the Walker Cup and would be turning pro in three weeks.
In the second match our good friends met the little brother of Max's opponent, Patrick Cantlay. When quizzed about how he knew Patrick, the 8 or 9 year old said, "He's my brother!"
As I right this article the morning after, I'm still feeling the tingle of excitement that this enjoyable day brought to all of us. The only disappointment was that our underdog dropped a 2 UP lead on the last two holes of afternoon play and lost on the 1st hole of sudden death.
I approached the tired dad/caddie who had just dragged a bag for 38 holes to congratulate him on Max's play. He thanked me for my encouraging comments, smiled and finished with, "It was a good run!"
A good run indeed!