I covered the Turning Stone Resort Championship for six days, and I had a great time.
For one thing, I got to walk in inside the ropes, which is one of the perks of being a sportswriter, except it isn’t much of a perk because you are only like two inches closer to the action. I don’t even know how far you’re allowed to stray inside the ropes, so I didn’t. A couple of other guys would run over to the fairway now and then to check yardages on sprinkler heads, but I didn’t want to get hollered at. I remember the first time I covered a PGA tournament was at the B.C. Open. I was following Wayne Levi, standing right behind his caddy, looking in his bag. An official came over and told me I wasn't supposed to be there. Geez, I was embarrassed.
But, I’ve got to tell you, while covering Turning Stone is a lot of work – that’s what I told one guy who said he’d love to have my job – it’s a terrific time, too, and not just because the food in the press tent is excellent. I enjoy the banter and cooperation with my colleagues from the Observer-Dispatch, and trading barbs with Nick Sardina and Mike Doherty from cnygolfhome.com, Chris Wagner and Mike Waters from the Syracuse Post-Standard, John Kekis from the Associated Press, Marilu Lopez-Fretts from the Oneida Indian Nation and a few other people who don't understand my sense of humor. Everyone worked hard, and everyone- well, some of us - goofed around a little, too.
The Atunyote Golf Club is just sensational and terrifically maintained, even in terrible weather, by Matt Falvo and his crew – just ask the players – and the Oneida Nation staff and the people from the PGA Tour are extremely helpful. The amount of information the PGA provides – Mark Williams and Mark Stevens were on site - for each round could fill a sport section every day, and they always have an answer to your questions.
And the golfers? Terrific. Whether any of them are Top 30 money winners or not, they are incredibly gifted, tremendously professional and almost universally good-natured. The guys in the playoff, Vaughn Taylor and Matt Kuchar, were exceptionally cordial – maybe I would be, too, if I had a chance to win more than $1 million and knew if I lost I’d still get $648,000. Kuchar, who looks like a tall 16-year-old, was like an extremely polite kid next door. And it was great to see how much he loves to play, rain, cold or whatever. He had an almost constant smile on his face for 78 holes, and that grin went ear to ear after he won.
Let's hope the tournament does get moved to a better date, or pray that the first week in October will be sunny and pleasant for the next 100 years. This is a very classy production, and, yes, it is a great thing for Turning Stone, but it is a great thing for the Central New York Community in general.