Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard

The 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard    

     The stars aligned for us this year and we finally made it to Bay Hill.  Advised by friends that the early-week events are favorites among the locals, we took advantage of the Monday-Wednesday pass and absorbed as much as we could hold, including Arnie's March Against Children's Cancer

Arnie's March
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
     Practice Day was perfect.  Under blue skies, surrounded by friendly volunteers and following savvy fans, we made our way from the Will Call trailer back by Hole 6 to the Lodge where just about everything happens except the game itself. 

The Golf Channel Studio
 ,     Everyone seemed to be there - The Golf Channel, equipment reps, players on the putting green, players on the range, fans in the pro-shops, fans at the concessions -

Bay Hill Lodge and Putting Green

Jason Dufner (far left) on the putting green

Brandt Snedeker

Mr. Palmer and Hunter Mahan interview on the range
and grounds crew attending to all details, including last-minute touches to the Trophy Tent.

Trophy Tent and List of Champions
      After a good lunch alongside the 18th green, we decided to walk the course backwards and surprise ourselves with who we might meet.  It was as if we were strolling through a highlight reel.  There's not enough space to describe it all and so we'll just lay out a photo tour here and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

A Garden Variety Golfer at Bay Hill's 18th

18th approach, and if it isn't Arnie's house, it should be!

18th Tee Box

Angel Cabrera kicking a mini soccer ball to his caddy
Snedeker on the 13th tee
Ryo Ishikawa on the 9th tee

     If you play golf, you'll understand when we say that you can recognize a player across 3 fairways whether it's a friend or a pro by the way he walks, swings or wears a hat.  This next picture is labeled but you probably already know that it's Phil Mickelson by his step and his visor.  Out of camara shot is his gallery that followed him everywhere, even during practice rounds. 


Johnson Wagner (blue shirt) followed by the divot crew!

New Bay Hill Residents
     And after several trips around the course, we made our way back toward the 6th.  At the far end of the range sit the equipment barns and even a greenhouse that serves the course, the clubhouse, and the event venues.  Spring seemed to be all around us.  It was a great day to be a garden variety golfer.

Spring comes to the range.

Wednesday, March 20th

     Pro-Am Day, where laid-back meets tournament, where playing with your buddies is nothing like this!  Whatever the charitable contribution is to play with the pro's, it has to be worth it.  It's worth it just to be a spectator.
     Again we entered by the 6th hole, which at Bay Hill is the place to be.  The junction of 3, 4, 5 and 6 showcase so much at one time that you don't know where to look.  Tiger's group was first off that morning and so by the time we settled in he was coming down the pike. 

Tiger on the 4th tee

Tiger and gallery
Tiger and Ams on their 4th tee
    As Tiger's group hit off the 4th, Bubba's came in to the 3rd green,

Bubba Watson on the 3rd green
Bubba, 4th tee

and soon after that came Ricky Fowler.

Ricky Rowler and his Ams on their 4th Tee

     This section of the course loops up and back to the perilous 6th tee shot across a HUGE lake.  It was the perfect spot to watch these heavy hitters bomb away.  Spectators speculated on what they would aim for.  Bubba must have aimed for the camara tower giving him weeeellll over a 300 yard drive.  We think we saw him come out of his shoes, too!
     It was by no means the end of the day, but our last shot is of Graeme McDowell.  His Irish Brogue enchants you.  Much of the gallery had started to move along with the earlier starters and the opportunity arose to ask for an autograph.  After he teed off on the 4th, he sprawled his Sharpie across our pairings sheet.  We were taking home a trophy!

Graeme McDowell and Ams on the 3rd green