Thursday, May 05, 2005

Chasing Tiger

Tiger Woods smacked the ball, teeing off at hole #10. A crowd of people huddled near the ropes and they were at least four deep. All I saw were backs and bottoms. I headed down the fairway hoping to get a better spot for Tiger's next shot.

I spotted Observer photographer Patrick Schneider jog-walking down the fairway. Schneider wielded a camera with a giant lens and an even bigger tripod, but he brushed past fans as if he were empty-handed. I dipped in behind Schneider hoping I could angle past fans for a closer glimpse of Tiger. Schneider broke into a jog-sprint. I'm too cool for that. I'll see El Tigre on television.

Well, golf fans. I'm out of here.

Frozen drinks anyone?

(TONYA JAMESON, Charlotte Observer)
Come and get it.

Kevin Corley looked lonely standing behind the frozen lemonade stand behind Green No. 3. Bystander scurried past his stand as if looking at the yellow monstrosity would make them colder. Not a prime assignment for Corley, a first-time volunteer, but he didn't mind.
"I'm not selling ice cream," he said. "I'm selling tropical dreams."
The people who were selling ice-cold Buds and Michelobs selling more. Ooh, I gotta go. A couple of guys said Tiger Woods is here and they're going to find a good spot on the putting green. (Actually, I have to find the putting green.)

No. 1 salad maker baby

salad making(This ain't no bag salad: Tonya Jameson hooking up the buffalo chicken salad in the clubhouse.)

Okay, I wasn't that great but at least Chef Lou Piuggi didn't kick me out of the kitchen in the Quail Hollow clubhouse. If you eat the buffalo chicken salad at the tournament today, chances are I hooked it up for you. I put my foot in it. (Not really health inspector people, that's just a term for saying a I did a good job.)

Actually, the real cooks did all the work, I simply dumped the salad onto the platters and tried to make it look pretty. It wasn't easy. I had to pile the salad just right so it didn't fall on the tomatoes grimacing the outside of the platter, but I couldn't mold the salad because it needed to look natural. Plus, I had to be careful not to touch my salad plastered fingers on the edge of the platter because it would take more time to wipe the edges off. All this to the soundtrack of clanging pots and loud-talking staffers. (Note: Chef Lou doesn't yell, he talks loudly.) Chef Lou was like the Phil Jackson of the kitchen, imploring me to relax. Apparently, I was gritting my teeth and holding lettuce in a death grip. At home I empty the lettuce mixture from the bag into a bowl and in the words of Chef Emeril "Bam!"

After my salad-making adventure I chopped pineapples with a knife that my Wal-Mart steak knife look like that little blade in a grooming kit. Chef Lou schooled me on the art of cutting. I thought I knew how to work a knife since I'd recently watched "Kill Bill." Chef Lou showed me how to relax my wrist and coax the knife through the pineapple instead of forcing it. "There is no knife," I mumbled to myself.

Get out the way

(TONYA JAMESON, Charlotte Observer)
Corey Hayes blocks off the walkway as a golfer crosses. Wish I could get that kind of service on Tryon Street.

A stickup at Quail Hollow?

Get this. I'm walking along trying to figure this golf thing out when a bunch of volunteers throw their hands up in the air near hole #10. I freeze. Is someone behind me with a gun? Where's Mr. Incredible when you need him? Then I realize the volunteers want us to shut the heck up because a golfer was getting ready to hit the ball. I slowly reach into my pocket and pull out my pen.

Back up off me

salad days
Chef Lou (right) sneaks a peek at Tonya Jameson's salad-making skills inside the clubhouse kitchen.

Breathe and stop

Compass Chef Lou Piuggi (center) teaches Tonya Jameson to become one with the knife in the clubhouse kitchen.

Rebel planet

The area in front of the clubhouse at Quail Hollow looks like the rebel base on the planet Hoth in the "Empire Strikes Back." Golf carts, media trucks, shuttles and other vehicles zoom in and out of the parking lot like X-wings zipping into a hanger. Play has started and volunteers in bright yellow jackets are making last minute preparations, grabbing water, jackets and anything else they'll need for the day.

Stickup: Photographic evidence

caddie and woods
Quiet! Someone's hitting the ball. (Tara Dellinger)

(TONYA JAMESON, Charlotte Observer)

Rain rain go away

It's cold and drizzling. Boo. Still, fans are already sitting in the stands watching golfers practice and waiting for the 7:15 a.m. start.

Unleash the lasers

(TONYA JAMESON, Charlotte Observer)
Jim and Betsy Malcolm and Russ Settles (right), volunteers for three years, man the laser at Hole No 2. Shot Link uses those lasers to record ball statistics. The information is then transferred to the media and television announcers.

I can do that

Ugh! I just missed seeing Tiger and Vijay Singh at the putting green, but now that I'm here I really don't understand the big deal. This dude was telling me that Tiger only stayed out there for a few minutes, but Singh was out there for a half-hour hitting the same putt over and over again. He even used some kind of contraption to keep his putter straight. I don't get it. The putting green is a small green field and it's flat. Miniature golf has hills and obstacles, now that's challenging.

Go Wizards!

I know, I know this blog is supposed to be all about golf, but I just got home from the Wachovia Championship media party and saw my hometown team the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls with a buzzer beater. Yaaayyyy.
Okay, back to golf. If you haven't been to the Belle Acres Golf and Country Club on South Boulevard, I suggest you find a friend who has a membership. The 14-year-old pub is deceiving. It doesn't look like much from the outside and the inside looks like a junky sports bar, but that's what makes it cool. There's all kinds of sports memorabilia and photos on the walls and ceiling. (No, the Mellow Mushroom in Noda wasn't the first place to hang cool stuff on the ceiling.) The place feels like a neighborhood diner -- for the ballas only.