La Quinta, California: When there is a golf tournament in your town, go! Actually, there are many golf tournaments in the Coachella Valley, but the AMX is a good one, and it is so close to our house. We bought one-day general admission tickets with Marcia and Red and spent the entire day. It was cold (okay, a relatively cold 62°), but sunny. Warm enough if we stayed in the sun. Our $40 ticket included admission and shuttle buses to any/all of the three courses utilized for the tournament. (Parking was $20 per car.) Red wanted to go to the La Quinta Country Club course, so we all went there and spent the entire day following golfers, walking between holes, up and down, back and forth. (The other courses played this week are Nicklaus Tournament Course and the Pete Dye Stadium Course.) The players change courses daily.
After arriving via the shuttle bus, we figured-out the lay of the land and first visited the driving range, where we watched Tony Finau, Ricky Fowler, and Jon Rahm hit a few balls. There was a frost delay, so everything was behind schedule. We just waited, people-watched, and enjoyed the ambience until the Big Boys began teeing it up. An interesting day for the contestants as this old course is short for pros (and can't somehow be made longer... even for a tournament?). Today, I saw golfers teeing-off with irons and rescue clubs!
You can find the daily pairings here, but we mostly followed Sahith Theegala (SoCal favorite), who was paired with Tom Kim. One of the amateurs with this duo, Chip Rini, was hitting as far as the pros. His game was magnificent. Theegala's family were following him, and were very engaging and fun.
We took a break at noon for pre-made sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs at the clubhouse. Anything purchased with an American Express card received an automatic 20% discount. Yeah! (Not much help on an $18 burger or $10 hot dog!)
It was fun watching the pros working. We were reminiscing about the olden days, when the pros were a bit... stocky?... overweight?... and they smoked! No longer. Most of the current players are slim, trim, and well-toned. Along with hours at the driving range, most players spend hours in the gym. Tiger's influence?
We saw so many golfers and so many beautiful drives today. All dizzying and so impressive, and solid confirmation I should not quit my day job and join the pro circuit. It was nearly dark when we returned to our house, and we were tired from standing/walking seven hours. I had 14,000 steps by the time I reached home.
Until my next update, I remain, "we will watch the next few days of the tournament on television" correspondent.