by Jeff Skinner
With the start of autumn this Sunday I can’t help but reflect on this past summer and all the golf I was privileged to see. Summer of ’13 was a grand season for me as I spent days on the road traveling the northeast following the world’s best golfers.
This past August I had the good fortune to see plenty of golf as I ping-ponged from tournament to tournament catching both professionals and amateurs alike.
I started August with a trip up to Rochester for the PGA Championship. Friday was a long wet day with rains that threatened to stop play. But Oak Hill remained playable and all we needed was a good umbrella and a little patience. Saturday brought absolutely perfect weather and some amazing golf. Watching Jason Dufner break the course record with my son was one of the highlights of my season.
The following week I shot up to Brookline Mass. and the U.S. Amateur. I spent a day with my brother walking the course at the historic Country Club. The Amateur is a special event that captures so much of what makes this game special. The sportsmanship, camaraderie and reverence displayed by competitors and fans alike was captivating. Walking the fairways of The Country Club you had the feeling that this was the true essence of golf. It was my first amateur and it surely won’t be my last.
My third trip in August was down to Liberty National and The Barclays. The FedEx Cup first playoff event brought a new excitement to the field and I watched them up close but I have to be honest, with all the access I was granted I spent a fair amount of time watching play from the bar in their over the top clubhouse. Hey, I have to make like the privileged few when I get the chance. The most difficult task of the week was focusing on the players because the view from that course is addicting: The Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline form a backdrop that you can’t help but get locked into no matter where you are on the course.
The next week I headed back to Massachusetts and the Deutsche Bank Championship. Back in the great company of my brother again we spent Monday watching the final round, dodging the rain and drinking Dark n Stormy’s. But it was Thursday of that week when I was able to spend the day in the media center and got to sit in on the pre-tournament press conferences. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Barclays winner Adam Scott all spent some time sharing their thoughts with the media. And I was finally able to ask Tiger a question and he gave a thoughtful and thorough answer. Then I had Adam and the press rolling when I pressed him about his Player of the Year chances. Listening to Scott you can’t help but see what an open, honest and thoughtful man he is. He’s all class all the way.
So four tournaments in four weeks and I had the chance to make it five for August but I couldn’t get up to the Dicks Sporting Goods Open due to my schedule. But more disappointing was my having to miss the Walker Cup during the first week of September. I had credentials to the Walker Cup but was unable to make the trip back to Long Island and The National Golf Links of America. Missing out on that course was the most disappointing moment of my Summer of Golf.
It has been a hectic summer as I was determined to get to as many tournaments as I could and I enjoyed every moment and mile of my trips. For the record it started in June with The LPGA Wegman’s Championship. Next I spent three days with my brother and son down in Philly for the U.S. Open at Merion. The following week I hit the Travelers in Connecticut and followed that up with a trip to Sebonack for The U.S. Women’s Open. After a month off, August had me on the road again to the PGA, U.S. Amateur, Barclays and the Deutsche Bank.
Over those weeks I had many crazy, fun and frustrating moments but all were memorable. I got rained out at The Wegman’s but ran into Catriona Matthew (literally). U.S. Open week was great with Merion stealing the show and playing some golf of our own was awesome. The Travelers is always a great party and has grown into a very popular tour stop. And spending time at Sebonack among the best women golfers of the world was incredible. The PGA was thrilling and Oak Hill and Rochester shine like few other golf communities. The Amateur and walking the course where Francis Ouimet changed the game of golf in America was surreal. Standing in the shadow of Lady Liberty at The Barclays was inspiring and chatting with the top golfers in the world at the Duetsche Bank had me flying high for a week.
Over my Summer of Golf I got to sit in at the press conferences and talk to Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Jordan Spieth, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Chris Stroud, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott. I also had the good fortune of chatting with Tom Doak as he walked Sebonack, his design with Jack Nicklaus, and for a golfing geek like me it was a little bit of heaven. My apologies to Tom for stalking him.
All told I put close to 4,000 miles on my car, played 189 holes of golf in between and wore out my shoes.
I am sorry to see this summer come to an end because I don’t think I’ll ever have the chance to see so much golf in one summer again. But hope is not lost. I still have one trip left as my brother and I will be heading out to Jack’s place, Muirfield Village, for the Presidents Cup in October. It is sure to be an exciting week and will put an exclamation point on my magnificent Summer of Golf.