The stands behind the first Tee at Medinah on Sunday just before Bubba Watson and Luke Donald teed off.
Usually LinksNation trips are planned months in advance, occasionally spur of the
moment, but this particular journey to Chicago was talked about for 2 years.
Experiencing Chicago during the fall is an absolute must for anyone who likes the
change of seasons, as well as Golf, Baseball, Football or really anything to do
with the great outdoors.
The fourteenth at the Glen Club
Two years ago, I traveled with the same accomplices to Wisconsin, where we did
features on Erin Hills, Whistling Straits and then watched our Dolphins defeat the
Packers at Lambeau.For much of the past 25 years, many of the trips that
involved sporting events have been with these same two guys: my brother
in law Bruce Superman - yes, that's actually his name (and my wife's maiden
name) and accomplice #2, high school buddy Scott Eric Baker, who has joined me
on many golf excursions, both near and far.Let me describe these two characters
I often travel with.The Man of Steel is actually an analytical type who works
for Sirius/XM, is a complete NFL junky, and sports nut in general, a bit on the
compulsive side with bouts of anxiety, and although not a golfer, his integrity is
perhaps his best trait, and is as genuine a human being as they come . . . what
else would you expect from a guy named Superman (25 years ago when I out
kicked my coverage and landed his sister Shari as my wife, I was equally
fortunate to get another true brother in the deal).Mr.Baker has been the
constant friend in my life for the last 30 years, who has really has supported
me through most everything, everybody deserves someone like Scott in their
life.A fellow golfaholic who runs his own aviation parts company, he rarely passes
up an opportunity to tee it up.It was our trip to Wisconsin in 2010, that inspired
this sojourn . . . the lure of the Ryder Cup, and for me, Wrigley Field was high on
my to do list.
If you like Autumn weather, then the Midwest is a great place to be in late
Sept/early October.We stayed in the Midway Airport area, it wasn't our our first
choice but a few hookups fell through to stay in the city (but we won't mention
any names).The Holiday Inn Express certainly was not a condo in downtown, but
it was adequate (aside from one very important element, which I'll mention later)
. . . certainly better then the Meth lab I stayed in at the King of Prussia in Philly
last summer with PC.
After arriving and settling in, we headed to the new Comiskey, aka Cellular Field,
to see the White Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays (I still call them the Devil
Rays, hate all this politically correct or religiously correct nonsense).Kudos to the
folks with the Sox, the New Comiskey (as I will always call it) has a great blend
of new technology and old school vintage ballpark.The (Devil) Rays won the game
3-2 on an Evan Longoria blast in the ninth, which all but ended any realistic
hopes the White Sox had of making the playoffs.Since the ballpark on the south
side is considered the "Mean Streets" of ChiTown, we booked it to the "L" and got
back to the lodging spot.
Notice the large hedge in deep center field, located there is an eatery and
statues of past Sox greats.
Day two was marred by some bizarre allergic reaction I STILL have from a recent
surgery, it thwarted any plans of going into the city for the day . . . but I always
longed for a day where I can go away and do absolutely nothing and not feel
guilty about it, so Friday was that day.My only regret was not going to eat at
the Billy Goat Tavern with Superman.
Day three (Saturday) was a LinksNation course review day.The venue was the
Fazio designed Glen Club, the full review will be in the Course review section in
November, but let me just say that the place is worthy of any golf trip to the
Chicago area.Located in the beautiful town of Glenview, west of the city.We
were paired up with two other golf nuts Robert and Lucas, who were in town from
Austin, Texas to see the Ryder Cup.The beauty of the landscape at the Glen Club
really enhanced the experience.The service, and food are also worth sticking
around for after the round.The club does a nice job of honoring those who have
contributed greatly to the Chicago golf scene (with plaques describing each
honorees accomplishments).I can't express enough how impressive Kemper
Sports is at managing golf course and resort facilities, just first class.Later that
evening we went to the nearby rival Holiday Inn to watch some west coast
college football and to fill Clark Kent's need for fuel, after all even a guy named
Superman must eat.
Robert, J.B, Baker and Lucas at the Glen Club
The sweet par 3 fourth at the Glen Club
Day four was the Ryder Cup, the event like no other in Golf, that all American golf
fans wait for every two years.This edition was at Medinah, the first ever Ryder
Cup in the Windy City.Just as all American sports fans should make it to Augusta
for the Masters, I would put the Ryder Cup as next on that list.The Masters could
actually teach the PGA a few things about running an event, the PGA is
extremely corporate and that seems to be the way all big events are headed,
they gouge the patron at every turn.Food and beverage at the Masters is the
most reasonably priced at any major sports event.The Green Jackets get beat up
for many things, but not for price gouging and excessive commercialism.
Once again, I digress.
First tee Sunday at Medinah, that's Bruce Superman on the right, aka: The Man
If you don't like crowds, don't go to a Ryder Cup, it's oceans of people
everywhere . . . but that's what also makes the atmosphere and vibe so
strong.In fact, when the fans chanted "Central Time Zone" to Rory as he arrived
just minutes before his singles match, it felt like a Bears game . . . unlike any
other golf event there is on earth.
The drama was second to none on Sunday, I was standing beside the 17th green
as Phil nearly chipped in and ended the European momentum, but seconds later
Justin Rose dropped an unlikely 40 ft bomb that felt like a punch to the solar
plexus to all fans of the home squad, it was just too strong to fight off.The blue
& yellow side and the Ole chants felt Seve driven, and the Euro's took the Cup
back across the pond again, what a stunning comeback on the road. All I could
say as we made our way thru Medinah with 40k disappointed yanks, was wow.
Before the event I always said I just want to see the Cup get hoisted at the end,
no matter who wins, but that was pure folly . . . we left in a hurry like
everybody else, in a rush to get outta there . . . wish we would of stayed around
to watch the celebration.I wanted to experience my first Ryder Cup with the
masses, not in any sort of working capacity, this way, my feelings wouldn't be
inhibited or neutralized . . . there will be time down the road to be a spoiled
snobby scribe, this was my maiden voyage to this arena, best it be unjaded.
I wanted to watch afterward on TV what we had just experienced, like an
amazing victory of epic proportions, this was epic as well, just in a tragic sense.I
couldn't watch it at our Holiday Inn, they didn't carry the golf channel, are you
BLEEPING kidding me!!?? Everywhere around the world they're watching
commentary, interviews, highlights, the closing ceremony, and 20 miles from
Medinah we can't get any coverage at all.Don't get me wrong I love Chicago,
but that's a major fumble at the goal line for the people in charge of such things,
and don't even get me started on Chicago Pizza.My apologies, to those who like
deep dish (don't even try their version of thin pizza, total dreck), an inferior
brand of soft drink, and no Golf Channel, but I had to get that off my chest.I
offer up solutions for the next traveler to the Windy City: D'Agostino's
Pizza, Billy Goat Tavern (of SNL fame, Cheezborger, Cheezborger,
Cheezborger . . . No Pepsi - Coke!) highly recommended by B.Superman, and
any hotel chain that carries more than one sports channel.
One thing that ChiTown nailed perfectly (est.1914) was Wrigley Field, I'd wanted
to go to Sheffield and Waveland for as long as I could remember.I'm not a Cubs
fan (but my nephew Luke, who joined us for the game and is a Chicago transplant
is), but no matter who you root for, You can't hate the Cubs.Wrigley and
Lambeau have become my two favorite ball parks of all time (along with the old
Luke Garbarino looks out at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, home of his
We sat in the right field bleachers and when the night was over we collected 6
baseballs from BP and the game.Since we're Marlin fans we managed to sneak
over towards the third base side and sit in the Bartman seat (see 2003 NLCS) for
half an inning.
At the end of the game (Cubs lost 3-0) the elderly gentleman (photo above)
behind us held up a large flag with the "L" signifying a loss, it was the Cubs
100th loss of 2012, and the first time that two 100 loss teams were on the field
together (the Astros had previously lost their 100th a week or so earlier).As we
were exiting the bleachers, one of Cubs employees - Joe, asked us if it was our
first time here.We admitted it was, and he proceeded to explain why they hang
the "W" or in this case "L" atop the flagpole above the centerfield scoreboard . . .
that banner lets everyone know on the train passing by who won the game.
I thought, what a unique and cool thing.Then Joe said, you know what tonight is
dontcha? We shrugged no, he said, "guys, today is the 80th anniversary of Babe
Ruth calling his shot in the 1932 World Series here at Wrigley".Very Cool!We had
lost all three home sporting events on the trip, but as we walked out of the
stadium onto Sheffield Ave, I looked up at the "Flying L" waving atop the stadium
and thought, maybe Cubs fans are the most fortunate of all . . . after no series
titles in over a century, Wrigley teaches you that the outcome is less important
than the journey.As my close friend P.C back in West Palm Beach would say,
"Amen to that".