A Day at the Travelers Championship ProAm

As the Breaking Eighty East Coast Correspondent, I was really excited to get the chance to cover the recent Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT.

From Occasional Golfer to Golf Reporter at The Travelers Championship

travelers championship greens

A lot of short game work going on around here.

Although I might be only a sometimes golfer in real life, I am an avid reader of golf news and watch as many of the tournaments as I can on tv, so when I had the chance to attend a tournament as a golf reporter, I was so excited to get started.

I couldn’t wait to make the drive to Connecticut to see what an actual professional golf event was all about from beyond just the fan’s perspective.

Lucky for me, the day I was available to go was the Travelers ProAm event, which was cool because ProAms are typically a lot more relaxed and casual than the typical tournament.

The Travelers Championship was no exception.

Let’s Get Reporting

I started the day by heading right to the practice greens.

travelers practice greens

Yea, I actually got much closer!

The practice putting and driving areas were the perfect places to start off the day by taking some photos and even chatting with a few of the golfers and celebs who were available. This gave me a chance to get a lay of the land before I started following a few of the foursomes.

From there, I started the day by following the group that included PGA Pro Brad Faxon, former professional football players Doug Flutie and Andre Tippett and famous ESPN personality Chris Berman.

berman and tippett

Chris Berman and Andre Tippett strolling from the tee.

It’s interesting seeing a tournament in this light, the interaction between the professionals and the celebs, who is actually pretty good and golf, and who spends most of their time signing autographs.

Teeing Off

My first experience with reporting at the Travelers Championship was nearly getting my head chopped off by a Brad Faxon practice swing.

Whoops.

brad faxon

Now a safe distance from the back swing.

Ironically, I was actually outside the ropes because I was looking for a great angle to take a shot of Brad’s follow through swing. As he walked up to the tee he took a huge cut, which left the head of his driver zipping past my nose, really giving me an inside view of his swing!

So although I’d love to say my first interaction with Brad was asking him about his strategy for winning the Travelers Championship, instead it was assuring him I was all good.

Once Brad did tee off for good measure it was incredible to see just how much better professional golfers are than the rest of us. It’s hard to judge, even when attending an even in person just how much better a style of play these guys have, because they are all at such a high level.

Watching them play in a group with three mere mortals really gives you a first hand look at their skill set.

Brad spent a lot of time chatting with fans on most of the holes as Andre Tippett (sorry, Andre) seemed to huff and puff and hack his way to the green.

After a while of watching Brad’s group, I decided to wander the course to catch up with some of the other groups playing.

The Back Nine

As I made my way up from the front nine of the course, I was able to watch a little bit of play by the groups helmed by Vijay Singh and Lee Westwood.

Initially, I was curious if Vijay would find any hecklers (a la Sergio Garcia style)  in the crowd after all the controversy from his recent lawsuit issues, but everyone was polite.

But, the guy who put on the real show was Lee Westwood. As the second to last group teeing off in the morning session, I was able to follow the group for a few holes by early afternoon.

lee westwood

Lee Westwood teeing off on the 12th after a birdie on the 11th.

Lee was certainly on his game during the ProAm, unfortunately, not so much during the actual Travelers Championship event, though. I watched at the par 3 11th hole, as Lee dropped in a perfect shot about 3 yards from the pin on his first shot, and then the rest of his group mightily struggle to follow suit.

It made me think twice about ever accepting a ProAm invitation, unless I get a lot of lessons….a lot of lessons.

The Highlight of the Day

Just around noon I hustled back to the first tee in order to catch the start of the afternoon groupings. The highlight, of course, was the Justin Rose group. His appearance was a pleasant surprise for many, considering he had just won the US Open at Merion only a few days before.

I’m not sure who these guys paid off, but Justin was paired with three business executives, who mostly played in awe of his skills during play.

justin rose at the travelers championship

Justin Rose discussing his shot on the par 3 8th.

I was lucky enough to get right into the mix on the 8th hole since the group in front of Justin was lagging a bit in play. For about 5 minutes, Justin chatted excitedly with the crowd, mostly answering a lot of questions about that now famous shot he had at the US Open.

It was fun to listen to him to talk about how he was wavering between clubs and said he went back and forth twice before hitting his shot only a few feet from the famous Ben Hogan plaque (and yes, he totally noticed it as he approached).

Perhaps even more entertaining was that he chatted so much with the crowd, the other three guys in his group had all taken their tee shots and were waiting on Justin, they turned around to motion it was his turn.

And maybe it was that he felt rushed, but he had one of the worst tee shots I saw all day!

8th hole at the travelers championship

The par 3 8th hole where Justin held court with fans.

He totally swatted it right into the woods, whoops.

After laughing out a, “s**t,” the crowd began yelling for a do-over.

“Really?” He asked to the group of us standing around.

After a couple of the more enthusiastic fans convinced him we promised we wouldn’t tell anyone, he teed off again. This time, he zeroed in on a bullet of a shot that sailed over the water hazard and landed about a yard from the pin.

The crowd erupted with cheers, and a satisfied Justin headed down to the green, after he signed everyone’s caps, flags and scorecards.

I spent the rest of my day with Justin and his group for the most part, stopping here and there to watch Ben Crane, who was the group right behind Justin’s.

ben crane

Ben Crane gets in some practice with his trainer.

Mission Completed

After a few hours of watching the Travelers Championship ProAm and taking a ton of photos, I was really excited to have spent the day as an official reporter for Breaking Eighty.

I had a great time spending the day out on the course and seeing some great golf, which, let’s face it, is always a fantastic way to spend a day.

Hopefully, this won’t be the last you hear of me reporting directly from the links!

Did you like this report? Is there someone else you want to see on any of these behind the scenes days on the golf course? Let me know what you’re looking for and we’ll make it happen!

 




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