Do the U.S. Open In Style
The U.S. Open just came to an end out on Long Island, drawing enormous crowds of fans who were undeterred by the unfavorable weather. Even if it hadn't rained, they would have struggled to enjoy the experience, as the event's organizers designed it in a way that made attendees earn their pleasure. And, the complaints were many. I heard one guy complain about $9 hot dogs, and the lines were awful. Trying to drive to the Bethpage golf course was a nightmare, as some had to park up to half an hour away and take buses to the tournament.
Many mused that there had to be a better way. And, there was. If you want to enjoy the U.S. Open next year, keep the following tips in mind. Plan ahead, and you can engineer a fantastic experience, even if the United States Golf Association is trying to prevent it.
1. Stay in the city
This may not be applicable next year, since the open isn't held at the same golf course every year. But, if the event is taking place on Long Island (and this goes for anything, not just golf), stay in Manhattan. You will have a bit of a hike in front of you in the morning and evening, but you'll also have the city at your disposal – which is definitely worth the trouble. I stayed at 60 Thompson down in SoHo, and I'm now more than happy to recommend it. The stylish hotel offers a great contrast to the attire worn by golfers (and golf enthusiasts).
2. Don't drive: ride
You could always take the train out to Long Island and grab a shuttle to the course, but then you're at the mercy of the Long Island Railroad's schedule. Driving is a recipe for disaster, given the cost to park and the planned inconvenience of the lots. Instead, hire a car. I caught a chauffeured lift in a new hybrid Lexus (thanks to Lexus, a U.S. Open sponsor), and the results couldn't have been better. I was dropped off at the entrance, and when I was ready to leave, I called when I started walking to the exit and found the car waiting for me. This didn't sit well with all the people fighting to cram onto hotel shuttles, but that was their problem.
3. There are tickets ... and there are tickets
You can pay for proletarian access, which can cost $100 or less, but you get what you pay for. While the masses shove against the rope to watch the "action," choose to enjoy the comfort of a hospitality tent (especially if it's raining). You may need to shell out some serious cash or look for a hookup, but the experience is worth the effort. As the rain began to fall on Bethpage, I retreated to the Lexus hospitality tent, ate, drank and stayed dry. There are plenty of sponsors – and plenty of hospitality tents. Find your way into any one of them, and your U.S. Open excursion will be vastly different.
4. Choose your cigars carefully
I saw a lot of cigar smokers at the U.S. Open ... and I smelled a lot of bad cigars. Too often, guys who smoke one or two cigars a year overspend for low quality just for the look. They are trying to buy an aesthetic and never fail to screw it up. Stop by a cigar shop and ask the tobacconist for a recommendation. Even if you're just trying to look the part, do it right.
5. Don't go alone
If you're committing to the full event, you'll spend several days on the golf course. Bring a guest who will entertain you during the (many) breaks in the tournament. Be sure your guest can make you laugh – you'll need it.
Disclosure: Lexus brought me out to the U.S. Open, but I made the decision to write about it. While I appreciated the company's hospitality, it didn't influence the story I decided to write. Any mention of Lexus above is genuine and at my own discretion.