IMG_0068

Ann Arbor, Michigan. About 40 miles from Detroit, it’s home to the University of Michigan, their gorgeous stadium aptly named “The Big House” (its quite large), and this week, Ann Arbor plays host to the LPGA’s Volvik Championship. The course hosting, is Travis Pointe Country Club.

Full disclosure, it’s my first time covering an LPGA event, and I really was not at all sure what to expect. To make matters worse, Monday was essentially a rain-out. Being here all alone, I tried to make the best of it by finding some good local bars and restaurants, but as it turns out, Monday’s aren’t the ideal night to attempt to have a good time. I tried four bars and I’d venture a guess that the most populated one had ten people in it.

Thankfully, I’m staying in a really nice hotel (shoutout Weber’s) so I picked up some beverages from the closest convenience store (a Rite Aid), and went back to the hotel. Side note, I still love how in the U.S. you can pretty much get alcohol at any time, at any place, and it’s super cheap.

So basically, my Monday night consisted of Bud Light, Cheetos Puffs, and flipping between the Cavs/Celtics game, and the Lightning/Capitals game. Did I mention I’m staying in a nice hotel? Because my bed was massive! I could legit lay across it if I wanted  to (not a big deal).

Today went much more according to plan. It did rain, but that didn’t stop the golfers so it wasn’t going to stop me.

Check out how we get shuttled to the course:

img_0075.jpeg

It’s sooo Michigan, and I love it. Also,  there was a guy waiting for the shuttle that saw it come up and let out the most exasperated gasp I’ve heard in years. It took me a minute, but once I saw his Ohio State cap, I started to get it. This man, no word of a lie, refused to get on the bus and took an Uber instead. College ties run deep in the States!

My first impressions of the course and the property were very positive. The set up is of course much different than a PGA Tour event; mainly much more laid-back, but everything was very professionally done.

Now, if you read any of my stuff from the RBC Heritage PGA Tour event in Hilton Head I covered last month, you’ll know I have a certain affinity for Media Centre food. Not only because its free, but the peek into local cuisine it gives you is always quite interesting one way or another. Much to my chagrin, there was no food for us on this day, but I’ve been informed there will be later in the week. So stay tuned!

After taking a bit of a stroll to get my bearings of the place, I checked out the practice facilities at Travis Pointe. Top-notch, as expected:

Before I get into the interviews I did today, I want to take a moment to point out how nice the culture around the LPGA is. I mentioned it being a lot more laid-back, but it’s so much more than that. From the tournament organizers, to the other media members, to the caddies and equipment manufactures, to the golfers themselves. There is a sense that they’re actually happy to have the media there, and the way the ladies treat the fans is wonderful. Case in point, as I was waiting by the 18th green to speak with Ryan O’Toole, her and her entire group walked off the green and stopped to sign autographs for the five or so kids waiting there, gave each of the kids a ball, spoke with them about how their days were going, and really made the kids feel special. It was really nice to see. Another thing; if you’re standing beside the fairway or green just watching, the vast majority of the girls will say Hi and ask how you’re doing. This isn’t to say the culture around the PGA Tour is bad, but they treat everyone as equals here, and the egos on the female golfers are next to none. It is very refreshing.

After Ryan was done talking with the kids, I was able to speak with her. Her LPGA bio said she thinks she would be a “major hedge fund investor” if not a golfer. I had to find out where the confidence came from:

After speaking with Ryan, I saw two Danes teeing off on the first hole, so I made my way to the green. Upon seeing them approach, I recognized Emily Pederson’s name from my research (I had to do extensive research on the field because I just don’t know LPGA as well as the PGA, to be honest). As she walked off the green I approached her with a proposal of just a few questions. She was kind enough to oblige.

Suffice to say she’s good buddies with her playing partner. As I wrapped that up it started to rain, so I begun walking down the adjacent 18th fairway on my way back to the club house. The rain let up for a few minutes so I stopped to watch a shot or two

Love the camaraderie after she almost hit some fans. That stray shot also led to a five-minute lecture from what I assume to be her swing coach, about dispersal of shots and the risk/reward of going for a green in two. It was pretty interesting, and the back and forth was very serious, but also very civil. It was a cool moment to listen in on.

After the rain stopped about 30 minutes later, I was back out to the first tee. A loud group of three ladies and about 10 other people were starting their round, so I tagged along. One of the ladies was Mel Reid. She was another one I had done some research on, and although as you will hear, some of my research was wrong, it was still a pretty good chat:

She also had a strange tattoo I had to ask about. Here it is:

Once again the rain started coming down pretty heavily, but Christina Kim was in the group behind Mel, and she also agreed to speak to me, while standing in the rain:

I didn’t expect backlash on the money question, but she raised a very fair point. All in all, another pretty good chat.

Wet and tired at this point, I made my way back to the Media Centre in search of food and shelter. Still no food, but I got myself dried up, loaded up my pictures and interviews onto my computer, and at that point, decided to call it a day. It wasn’t the longest one, but getting my bearings for the course and the grounds, while getting a couple interviews under my belt, was a positive step for day one.

Also, once i got back to the hotel to write this up, I headed to the lounge area to indulge in an adult beverage. Once there, to my surprise, was a buffet of chicken wings and meatballs. The cost? Free with any beverage purchase. Sign me up!

IMG_0076

Jealous? They look absolutely delicious. I cannot stare at them any longer without digging in, so with that, I conclude Day 1 at the LPGA Volvik Championship.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow with another one

Follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram @RJMcCullough

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s