Behind the Scenes at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic
After covering the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, I followed it up by heading to a local event, the CVS Caremark Charity Classic at the Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, Rhode Island.
A Perfect Host: The Rhode Island Country Club
The Rhode Island Country Club is really nice!
Granted it’s no Pebble Beach, but it stretches out from the crest of a hill down to the sparkling blue waters of Narragansett Bay. It made for a perfect backdrop to spend the day wandering the CVS Caremark Charity Classic.
The CVS Caremark Charity Classic has been going on since 1999 and is considered an unofficial tour event. It was started by Rhode Island natives and professional golfers Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade in order to bring about 18-20 big name golfers from the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours to Rhode Island to raise a little bit of money for charity.
Thus far, the event has raised over $16 million for charity, so I was happy to head down to Rhode Island for the day and support a really great cause.
Navigating the Ropes
Although the CVS Caremark Charity Classic does have a pot, it is a little bit more relaxed than a sanctioned tournament event, it’s still more professional than a ProAm event, like with the Travelers Championship. So, it was nice to cover an event that a bit more of an event feel and featured a field of all pro golfers.
Since Rhode Island is so small, you don’t encounter nearly the large crowds that you might at some other events. So it allows for you to really get up close and personal with the golfers, I’d certainly recommend the event for a fan at attend.
This year the big draws in the tournament were Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, both of whom came up from the Travelers Championship a few days before.
The tournament planners knew who their bread and butter would be, so they made sure to pair Rickie and Bubba together in a foursome. Not surprisingly, there was a pretty thick crowd that made sure to follow the group at each hole.
I was able to get inside the ropes on the 17th as Bubba and Rickie were getting prepared to tee off.
The best course of action for a good angle, I figured, was to follow a local news crew, so we all huddled together on the far side of the green as the group teed off.
Having Bubba Watson tee off on a 145 yard par 3 while you are positioned directly behind the green is a little bit disconcerting, especially once I discovered I’m not very good at keeping the ball in my sites following a drive.
But, everyone in the group landed their tee shots softly on the front edge of the green.
Once they got to the green, I noticed that Rickie spent a good amount of time advising Bubba on his short game. Since he had been struggling of late, as evidenced by that little meltdown a few days before at the Travelers, it was interesting to see Bubba really following Rickie’s lead.
My First Eagle, Sort Of
The other highlight of the day at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic was the eagle by eventual tournament winner Steve Stricker. Paired with Bo Van Pelt, Steve launched a beautiful 2nd shot on the par 4, 400 yard 16th that plop, went right in the cup.
The crowd erupted with wild cheers and huzzahs.
In fact, they were so loud that I could clearly hear all of the excitement from where I was, on the freaking 17th!
Yup, I missed the eagle, I am confident it won’t be my last.
Steve was on fire the entire day, and finished the first round an incredible 25 under par! 25 under par! I’m sure that co-host Billy Andrade was pretty confident that his and Billy Haas’ score of 21 was pretty damn good, until Steve and Bo came through.
Unlike all the events and entertainment for the crowd at the Travelers, the scene at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic was much more subdubed, there were no bands, putting and chipping games, and not much in the way of people giving away any swag.
This was highlighted by the fact that I only spotted two fun fan oriented things, and they were more of the look, don’t touch variety. The first was a massive bright orange inflatable Puma hat, clearly a nod to Rickie Fowler, that was tucked into the corner of the course by the 10th hole.
The second was the famous Oakley Bubba Watson hovercraft. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem interested in giving any sort of demos. The hovercraft itself, was huge, but sat on a trailer basically right in the middle of the course between the 15th and 18th holes. I noticed a few people gathering around to take some photos, so of course, I did too.
End of the Day
Since the tournament was much smaller, only 36 total holes, I got ready to head home after a few hours at the event.
But, between the beautiful Rhode Island Country Club, and the fun relaxed atmosphere of the CVS Caremark Charity Classic, it’s an event I would absolutely recommend attending in you are in the area next year.
Have you been to either Rhode Island Country Club or the CVS Caremark Charity Classic before? Would love to hear about your experiences in the comments!