Sightseeing just is not part of the itinerary for professional golfers when they are in town for a tournament, as they are this week for The Barclays at Bethpage Black. For the most part, they leave the hotel, go to the course, grab a quick dinner and sleep. If they really want to do something adventurous, they might play a little extra golf.
“Monday, actually I might go and visit Garden City Golf Club. I heard that’s pretty good and I know a couple of people out there. I might do that,” said Rory McIlroy, one of the world’s top golfers and winner of four major championships. “But apart from that? Catch up with people, eat in nice restaurants. Generally have a good time.”
Golfers playing in The Barclays will be scattered around Long Island this week, staying in hotels and private home rentals.
Zac Blair, who will tee off at 1:28 p.m. Thursday, got here a week early for a golf vacation that his wife arranged as a birthday present for him. He played some of Long Island’s most respected courses: Maidstone, Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links of America, Friars Head, Westhampton Country Club, Southampton Golf Club and Piping Rock.
He tweeted superlatives about every one of them, for instance: “Maidstone was so awesome! I was expecting it to be good and it went above and beyond!”
Mostly, though, the pros eschew other attractions such as beaches and malls. Bill Haas, former winner of the $10 million season-long FedExCup competition, said, “Sometimes we play in Hawaii, we play in other beautiful parts of the country. But we go to work every day. Today, I was here this morning, I will play from 1:30 to 6:30, I’ll try to get dinner and then I’ll want to go to bed. But I do enjoy coming here. The fans are great I always look forward to coming up this way.”
Jim Herman, a former assistant club pro in New Jersey who is now a successful PGA Tour player, knows the area well. When he was at the University of Cincinnati, he won the St. John’s University Invitational at Bethpage’s Red Course, then, when he worked at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., he and fellow pros often drove over to play the Black.
This week is all business. “You’re here to work and then get late lunch or early dinner, then it’s back to the hotel,” he said. “It’s not as glamorous as you might think.”
Jason Day, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, said, “I’m the most boring person alive. Literally, I’m like a hermit. I’m inside my [SUV] and I don’t leave. I get more excitement out of my family going and doing stuff in New York City.”