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Golf Season Tees Off Early

By Matt Hombach 

Daylight Savings Time normally begins the first Sunday in April, but as an energy-saving measure, the federal government mandated that we “spring forward” three weeks earlier and “fall back” one week later, starting this year. The powers that be predict this will save Americans 100,000 barrels of oil every day.  

The start of DST is usually a catalyst that magically cures people of their seasonal affective disorder and jump-starts them into getting outside more after work and taking part in traditional springtime activities like hiking, biking and, of course, golf.

One unforeseen benefit of the new time change schedule is the extra daylight for late afternoon and twilight golf. Several area courses have seen a change already. 

“It’s been great for us. We’ve noticed even with the so-so weather we’ve had in the past 10 days that we’re getting more play than we normally do this time of year, thanks to the early time change,” said John Lazzell, head golf professional at Longview Golf Course. “A lot of golfers have commented they’re enjoying the early switch and that they love the late sunset."

The veteran pro of 47 years also noted that play is usually slow on late-winter mornings with low temperatures and frost delays. The time switch allows golfers to start playing when temperatures are warmer. In addition, people usually have more flexibility in their schedule later in the workday to cut out early and tee it up. 

Lazzell expects to see an even more dramatic increase in afternoon play with the extra hour of daylight for an additional week in the fall. DST doesn’t end this year until Nov. 4.

“Fall is the best time to play golf in the mid-Atlantic,” Lazzell said. “If the weather cooperates, I think we’ll see a lot more rounds during the last week of daylight-saving.”  

PANEL AT DUKE TO EXAMINE TIGER WOODS' CULTURAL IMPACT

No, this is not an early April Fool's joke. One of the leading universities in the country is actually hosting an event to discuss the question, “Is Tiger Woods an athlete, a multicultural symbol or a global brand?”

The event, called “Tiger Woods: American Empire, Global Golf and the Making of a Megacelebrity,” will be held later this month on the campus of Duke University. 

There are some legitimate heavy hitters on the panel, including Michelle Wie; Selena Roberts, a New York Times sports columnist; and Edward Wanambwa, the editor of African American Golf Digest.  

If cultural anthropology and golf are your two passions in life, this sounds like an ideal way to spend the afternoon. 

MAKING PLANS FOR THE MASTERS

If you’re pining for a trip to the Masters this year (April 2-8), you still have a little more than a week to make plans and get tickets. 

At this point, the best bet to get passes is on eBay or through a ticket broker. While the Augusta National Golf Club strictly prohibits ticket scalping, there are still plenty for sale on the popular site.  

The most affordable and, in many golf fans’ opinions, the best way to see the Masters is during the early-week practice rounds. A recent check of the online auction house showed that Monday and Tuesday practice round passes were going for about $200 apiece. The more highly coveted Wednesday passes are selling in the $300 range. The highlight of Wednesday afternoon is the annual par-3 tournament that attracts all the big names and legends of the game.

To see the Masters on the cheap, a great strategy is to head down to Augusta without passes during the practice rounds. Most hardcore and first-time fans bust through the gates when they open at 8 a.m. They spend five or six hours walking the course, watching some play and buying souvenirs. By about 2 p.m., many are tuckered out and ready to leave.  

Don’t stress out and try to scalp a ticket at 6 a.m. They’re harder to find and you’ll pay an arm and a leg. Instead, enjoy a restful morning and sleep in for a bit. Hit the local Waffle House (trust me, they’re not hard to find) and then make your way to the course by early afternoon.  

Stand outside the gates and chat up the exhausted, but happy golf fans as they march back to their vehicles. Most of them are willing to part with their badges for a pretty low price. The badges are only good for one day, so they are essentially worthless to folks who are heading home. 

If you can score a badge for a few bucks, the grounds of the course stay open until at least 6 p.m. -- leaving plenty of time to soak in some Masters magic and tour the grounds.   

Issue 2.12: March 22, 2007