When it is May in
Texas there are two dichotomies of golf. You have on one hand the Byron Nelson where the golfer to non-golfer ratio is out of ten people who attend the Nelson about 8 of them are non-golfers. And then you have the Colonial where out of every ten people who walk thought the main gates at the Colinas, eleven are golfers. That pretty well sum up the two different environments and styles of PGA events held within a week of each other and are about 20 miles apart.
The Nelson or ‘Byron’ as native Texans call it, (but as it is more commonly and formally known as the EDS Byron Nelson Championship), is where golf is not really promoted being played. And I think that the professional player field this year indicated that maybe the event has lost its golf tournament feel.
Why? Have you have been to the Byron? That use to be the questioned asked in every golf club in Dallas and Ft Worth during the Byron Nelson week. No matter where you lived you could jump in a car and get there in ten minutes, though the gates and out to the course and back to the office all within lunch. You use to be able to go to the event, grab a cold one and stand on the nearest green or TeeBox to watch your favorite golfer play. I mean you could WATCH them close up. The feel at the ol Byron was more of ‘come on out and watch and touch the pros’.
Now, to go to the Byron it you need to plan it would take all day just to get there and back. And once you get there you get herded around by the crowds of ever roaming non-golfers who are usually bored and only came to be seen by the people who have big bucks.
Your first adventure of going to the Byron today starts by paying $90 for a ticket that use to be $25, which use to be $5. Then you cannot find parking less than six miles away and that costs you $10 and they bus you in like cattle by people who look like they herd cattle. They let you out of the bus so everyone has to walk through the Walk of Fame and then the Hike Through Hell, where vendors or everything act like Midway Hockers grabbing and shouting at everyone to look at them and buy something that has been 400% inflated in price. Then after you have walked almost a mile you finally get to the 18th green where there is a stadium seating set up for those who paid big bucks can seat in front of the people who paid even more big bucks who all paid big bucks to watch the players putt out on 18th. Now for us who paid $90 to watch the people with big bucks watch the pros putt out we have to stand in the fairway about 100 yards from the 18th green to watch who we think are the PGA players putting out. From that distance it is hard to tell if it is players up on the green or David Feherty and Gary McCord filming a commercial.
It use to be that those people who got to the Byron early to pick out a place where ever they wanted on the course and watch the players walk by so close they could shake your hand to thank you for coming out. Now, the guys in the red britches lined the fairways and greens so thick that if you reach out past the line they call in the people who directed you onto the buses to use the cattle prods on you.
Now, as far as the Colonial, it is night and day comparison with the Byron being in the dark of night. The Colonial is in the shine of the day and has held tradition and continues to be the professionally run golf tournament that Mr. Hogan wanted to be held. His vision holds true today that the Colonial would match the elegance and organization of the Masters which it used to gauge its quality. You walk into the gates and you are in golf’s arena where golfers play golf and golfers watch golfers play golf. If someone walked in with an evening gown and high heels she probably was one of the Professional golfers wife’s. The only downside of anything negative about the Colonial is that it is in Ft Worth. Everything is golf and it is for golfers. A non-golfer would carried out and would never last at the Colonial.
No what has happened to the Byron and the Colonial that has made them so different. Well, unfortunately, the thing that is a negative for the Colonial is what is causing the Byron golf tournament to quickly become a golf tournament, it is in
Dallas. And the mission of the Byron has changed from being a golf tournament to being an event run by men who only want to raise money. Yes, they claim it is all for charity and I assume that all of those millions do go somewhere for charity or we would have read in the headlines that the IRS says other wise. And what takes place when there is money to be raised? The game of raising money outshines the golf tournament. And each year the new chairman of the event wants to outdo the previous chairman on how much money they raised. So, you don’t want to be the chairman who did not exceed the previous chairman’s fundraising, they would run off to Ft Worth if they did. So what do the event planners do to insure they make the millions? They promote the event to the non-golfers. They open up the Pavilion. The nightclub that is open during the day. The only place you can get a beer at 9AM. Now, anytime there is a very large gathering of people and a large gathering of people with a large amount of money there is going to be someone who wants to market to that large crowd of people. Now, to also control the way the event organizers make the millions they close off any promotions of any other commercial venue unless they pay the event planners big bucks. So how do small businesses who can’t afford the big bucks market to these people? Well they resort to the only thing that non-golfers can communicate with and that is to saddle up a cute little blonde wearing a skimpy tee-shirt to stand around in the pavilion for a week so everyone in the pavilion will see her wearing their tee-shirt. Let the organizers of the Byron try to ban that and they will have a riot…
Another way to raise the funds is to charge a premium to sit at any of the greens or tee boxes within one mile of the clubhouse. And there are more tactics used to insure that money is made every year. So, is it a golf tournament where you get to see the best of the best in golf who came to play for Lord Byron, or a carnival where the PGA members are just other there so the fundraiser can be called a golf tournament.
Now the professional golfers who come to play come for two reasons. They want to pay homage to the last of the original gentlemen golfers. It is pretty special to these guys to get a hand written note from Mr. Nelson inviting them to come play in HIS EVENT. And they also come because it has one of the biggest purses to win.
I know Byron is getting up there in age and he use to run the event with a stern hand towards the focus of the event be for the golf, but it looks to me as the organizers are all playing ‘Hot Potato’ with who is going to be the chairman of the event that Byron passes away. Because that chairman will be the chairman that rides a sinking ship down. I am afraid that once Lord Byron is no more so will the golf tournament. He is the only reason the pros come and once they go there will not be a tournament thus goes the money making machine…
Does anyone need a ride to Ft Worth?