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Attending Golf’s Masters (Bring on the U.S. Open already!)

Attending Golf’s Masters (Bring on the U.S. Open already!)

Attending Golf’s Masters (Bring on the U.S. Open already!)

pinehurst-resort-logoimagesA first-time patron’s observations of the PGA’s greatest Major and, sort of, what to expect at Pinehurst U.S. Open Championships in a week.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s been more than a month since the PGA’s greatest Major, which is actually a USGA event, and we’re still exactly a week away (June 9-15) from the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina

It’s been almost two months between Majors and seems even longer someone in this up-and-down (and not in a good pun) 2014 golf season.

So what’s it like to attend a premier PGA Major, like the U.S. Open or Masters?

First off, let’s not be misleading. You definitely need them — badges — or tickets, that is.  However, you definitely DO NOT need to have them in hand before you head down to Augusta or Pinehurst Village, for that matter.

For instance, at Pinehurst No. 2 Course (The club has eight courses.) and online a limited number of remaining tickets for the general public will become available on the U.S. Open Championships on June 9 (Official play begins June 12.).  The prices for tickets directly from the U.S. Open range from $60 for a a practice round to $750 for a full-week VIP pass. That’s not, of course, including what scalpers are demanding for guaranteed tickets today. However, as of today, Stubhub.com has fairly reasonable U.S. Open tickets available, even for Sunday ($87.50 to $104 each for two to four gallery seats.).

The 2014 U.S. Open Championships schedule at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina. Tickets are still available.

The 2014 U.S. Open Championships schedule at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina. Tickets are still available.

We learned a ton about Augusta Country Club on this first visit. If you’ve been to the Masters before, you will undoubtedly nod your head in agreement with what I share, or better yet, fondly recall your own memories from past visits. If you have never been to the Masters, well, you just need to figure out how to make it happen. It is that spectacular.

(We’re not so sure the same can be said for the U.S. Open, but Pinehurst most definitely has its own mystique at one of the greatest courses on the entire planet Earth, too. And Pinehurst Village isn’t very far from the Carolinas’ famed beaches. For example, Pinehurst Village and its 18,000 population, is about 2 1/2 hours from Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

The good news about the Masters, though, is it absolutely is not the toughest ticket in sports to get. Tickets are accessible and plentiful. The price is all that vacillates obviously. So, as with many sporting and other great cultural events in our lifetimes, it comes down to a matter of what we are willing to pay for that particular experience.

Pinehurst's own famed hole, No. 5, or Tobacco Road, home to the 2014 U.S. Open in a week. It will be Pinehurst Resort and Country Club's third time hosting the year's second Major. Tickets are still available, too.

Pinehurst’s own famed hole, No. 5, or Tobacco Road, home to the 2014 U.S. Open in a week. It will be Pinehurst Resort and Country Club’s third time hosting the year’s second Major. Tickets are still available, too.

Securing badges

We departed Minneapolis on a 5:30 a.m. direct flight to Atlanta. The early flight put us in Atlanta before 9 a.m. After grabbing a bargain-brand rental car, we were on our way. August is about 2 1/2 hours from the airport, or straight up I-20.

Unsure of what to expect in Augusts for food options, we stopped off 10 miles short of town, only to be greeted at the top of the ramp by a couple of ticket brokers. Game on!

The negotiating began at $400 a piece for the day. After working it down to $220 a piece, we grabbed the tickets, figuring a bird in hand is better than two in the bush. (We doubt it will be much different or cost nearly as much in Pinehurst. Charlotte, N.C., also is the closest large city and only two hours away.)

Furthermore, we weren’t completely sure of what to expect on Washington Road. I had heard and read in more than one place to beware of undercover officers near The National (Augusta National Golf Club) if you tried to purchase within a certain perimeter of the grounds.

At any rate, we had our tickets and were pumped. Time to find the course. 

Augusta National's famed No. 13 hole prior to this year's Masters. The U.S. Open -- finally after almost two months between Majors -- is up next in a week at Pinehurst in North Carolina.

Augusta National’s famed No. 13 hole prior to this year’s Masters. The U.S. Open — finally after almost two months between Majors — is up next in a week at Pinehurst in North Carolina.

Washington Road 

Possibly the most surprising aspect of the Masters is what surrounds it. The golf course is no more than a mile or two off of I-20 — which is a major Interstate. No winding country road to a pristine area of town. No gated community.

The golf course itself sits behind a collection of franchisee finest — Wendy’s, where we parked for an incredibly kind $10, Hooters, Advantage Auto Parts, Jiffy Lube.

If you imagine Augusta and Washington Road, as any mid-sized, Middle-American town, you’ve nailed it.

It’s said it’s not much different in the Village of Pinehurst. Game on, again!?

Pinehurst was built in 1895 and will host its third USGA U.S. Open Championships next week.

Pinehurst was built in 1895 and will host its third USGA U.S. Open Championships next week.


 


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