My dad, brother and I attended the first Competition Round at the Travelers Championship in 2008. We made a good decision to follow the threesome of Bubba Watson, Tom Pernice, Jr. and Kent Jones for most of the first nine holes: All three played well. And we had planted ourselves at the ninth hole before Tag Ridings shot an Eagle there, but my brother was napping and I was shopping when the crowd roared, so my dad was the only one who saw his shot go in.
If you're heading to the Travelers Championship in 2012 (June 18-24), here are a few tips based on my 2008 visit that may help you navigate the tournament and make the most of your spectator experience:
1. Be sure to wear sunscreen. There aren't many shady spots near the tees and greens at the TPC River Highlands.
2. If you have not purchased parking in advance, consider parking in the open field lot right on Golf Club Road. The price is comparable to the official lots, and you'll have a short walk to an entrance gate, a shorter wait to buy tickets than at the Main Gate and no need for a shuttle bus when it's time to return to your car.
3. Cameras are not allowed Thursday through Sunday during the competition rounds. Cell phones, PDAs and other electronic devices, which were banned from golf club grounds in previous years, will be permitted on site all week in 2012, but they must be set to silent and used in accordance with posted policies limiting the use of mobile devices.
4. Ladies: Unless you have a fanny pack or really tiny purse (no bigger than 6x6 inches), you won't be allowed to bring it inside the Travelers Championship grounds. So, you'll want to wear pants or shorts with pockets, and be sure to bring your ID with you if you plan to purchase beer.
5. A variety of beer and food items is available for sale at concession tents. In 2008, most beer was priced at $5.25 per can. A bag of popcorn set us back $3. The Chicken Caesar Salad I had for lunch, which was a little soggy but decent and large enough for two, was $9.25. My dad had the crab cake sandwich, which he said was "tasty but messy."
6. Chairs can be carried in, but they must not be inside carrying bags. I'd only recommend that you bring chairs if you plan to pretty much camp beside one green for the day. If you plan to follow a group of golfers or watch the play at several locations, you probably won't want to tote chairs. A blanket would be a good alternative, especially if you're attending the early morning rounds when the grass is dewy. Mostly, we just sat right on the grass to watch.
7. To really experience the course, you'll need to do quite a bit of walking, so wear comfortable shoes. The TPC River Highlands does not allow golf shoes with metal spikes. If you want to station yourself at one hole for most of the day and watch the groups as they come through, holes 5 (a par 3) and 9 (a par 4) are both good locations.
8. While the golf starts early in the day (usually 7 a.m.), we didn't arrive until 11 a.m., and we still saw plenty of golf.
9. It's not always easy to spot the ball when it's hit hard off the tee. My brother taught me the trick that it's easier to follow the ball's trajectory if you stand behind the golfers while they're teeing off.
10. Hard-working volunteers contribute to the success of the Travelers Championship. You'll see them dressed in red golf shirts, and when they hold both arms up in the air, it means you need to stop walking and stay silent while a golfer is taking his shot.
11. Plan your restroom stops strategically. Port-a-potties are not available at every hole, and you may find that the nearest facilities are quite a walk from your location.