Finally, the Greater Hickory Classic is here.
After months of “swing into summer” commercials and promotional electronic billboards, the much anticipated PGA Champions Tour event arrived in Catawba County.
But before hitting the links to catch your favorite player, it might be a good idea to scout out the most optimal way to enjoy the week’s festivities.
Die-hard Classic fans were already out in force Tuesday to watch the Dale Jarrett shootout and had their own ideas of what the “best” way to enjoy the tournament truly is.
Carrie Russell, of Winston-Salem, has been coming to the Classic for about four years and always gets a week-long pass.
“It’s always really fun to meet the players and get their autographs,” said Russell, who sported a GHC replica flag that was covered with signatures of various celebrities and sports superstars like Dale Jarrett and Billy Casper. “It’s fun, in general, to see the super seniors because they have been the prime ministers of golf.”
As for watching the tournament, Russell said it’s good to see different holes.
“I try to take the tram and go around all over the course,” Russell said.
The tournament offers an abundance of shuttles to and from different holes on the course. But Russell said it’s a very beautiful course to walk, depending on weather conditions.
Terry Miller, of Morganton, visited the Classic the last six years and said he has a particular routine he follows. Miller said he watches the golfers tee off on the first hole and then moves to a par 3 on the interior of the course. As the day winds down, Miller said he then goes to hole 18 to watch the players finish their round.
“Watching the good golfers is my favorite part,” said Miller, who plays golf often at the Glen Oaks golf course in Maiden. “They hit shots that the average duffer don’t hit.”
Russell and Miller agree that the food available on the course is “pretty good” and “reasonably priced for a sporting event.”
The Classic provides a refreshment stand and picnic-style benches for attendees near the No. 18 green, with food ranging from chips and crackers to hamburgers and fries.
There is also a merchandise tent near No. 18 that has shirts, flags and other souvenirs for sale.
Dee Ballerini and her father, Bill, have come to the Classic for six years. While Bill said that fans have to watch the players finish on No. 18, Dee said her favorite part of the tournament is meeting different celebrities.
“I got a kiss from Joe Theisman a few years ago,” Dee said. “I told him I always pull for the Redskins and whoever is playing the Cowboys, and he said ‘I’ve got to kiss you.’”
While opinions differ on how to “best” enjoy the tournament, all three fans recommend that citizens come out and enjoy the fun.
“Rock Barn has some of the friendliest people I’ve been around,” Russell said. “If people don’t come to their home state events, then they are missing out.”