As the summer moves into its dog days, some of us may begin to get frustrated with our golf games. When the devoted practice doesn’t seem to pay off, it becomes harder to take out the wallet and splurge for a round that makes us even more miserable.
Luckily for us Western New Yorkers, the PGA Tour schedule has been very kind to us this year in terms of providing reasonably accessible places for us to go watch the best of the best. In the next few weeks, this accessibility is at its peak. Kicking off with this week’s RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey outside Toronto, leading into next week’s WGC event in Akron, Ohio, and then finally of course the PGA at Oak Hill, the pros will give us a chance to take our minds off our own games and show how truly easy the game can be.
If you go:
RBC Canadian Open | Glen Abbey GC, Oakville, Ontario | Par 72, 7,253 yards | rbccanadianopen.com
It’s always tough to attract the top players the week after the British Open, but a $5.6 million purse can work wonders, especially when you add a well-respected course that was one of Jack Nicklaus’ original designs. I went to the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in 2008 when the area had experienced torrential rains prior to the event, but this year should be a little bit drier, and the course setup is mostly fan-friendly aside from a severe walk into and out of a valley on the back nine.
Field highlights include Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Charl Schwartzel and Luke Donald, as well as the traditional contingent of Canadians headlined by Mike Weir (who has struggled recently on Tour but whose form has improved of late).
Good news, bad news as far as tickets are concerned. A daily grounds pass will cost an adult $80, but all juniors 17 and under are admitted free. Glen Abbey is just under 76 miles from downtown Buffalo.
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational | Firestone CC (South Course), Akron, Ohio | Par 70, 7,400 yards | worldgolfchampionships.com/bridgestone-invitational
No shortage of star power here, during the middle event of the three-week swing near the Buffalo area. This is the longest drive from Western New York, but the field is plenty worth your while once you get there. With a ridiculous $8.75 million purse and the World Golf Championships label, the event draws one of the best fields in golf as the players fine-tune their games for the next week’s PGA Championship. With the PGA already sold out for most days, Firestone gives last-minute planners the opportunity to see the same type of quality golf in a reasonably nearby location.
The field is not official yet, but is set to include the likes of Woods, Mickelson, Els, Scott, Rose, McIlroy…you get the picture. The best. Barring injury or last-minute emergencies, the top players in the game will be in Akron as they prepare for the PGA. The course is easily walkable and well-suited to spectators, and it always draws a solid crowd from the Northeast Ohio area.
Ticket prices are much more reasonable than the Canadian Open, as well. A daily ticket can be purchased at the event website for $35, or at the gate for $48. Kids 18 and under are free. In addition, all active, reserve and retired military and their dependents are admitted free with a valid Department of Defense-issued ID. Weekly grounds tickets are available for $95 as well.
The best deal, but the furthest away. Firestone is 222 miles from downtown Buffalo. If you are looking to make a weekend out of a PGA Tour event in the coming weeks, this looks to be your best bet.
PGA Championship | Oak Hill CC (East), Rochester, NY | Par 70, 7,163 yards | pga.com/pgachampionship
As most of us now, the year’s final major is returning to Western New York, to the well-respected East Course at Oak Hill in suburban Rochester. The course last hosted the PGA in 2003 and also hosted the 2008 Senior PGA in the interim. Having hosted past PGA Championships and Ryder Cups, the club clearly has a sound relationship with the PGA of America.
No debate here. If you’re healthy and able and eligible, you’re playing the PGA. As is true of Firestone, expect the All-Star lineup of golfers to tee it up at Oak Hill. A new wrinkle this year is the PGA of America’s online hole location challenge, where fans can go to PGA.com before the tournament and select one of four hole locations for the par-3 15th, with the winning location to be used for Sunday’s final round.
Unfortunately for the late thinkers, tickets are sold out for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Practice round tickets are still available – $25 for Monday and Tuesday, and $35 for Wednesday, at PGA.com. At the moment, Thursday (first-round) tickets are available at $75 online, but this could change in the next few days (or hours). Up to four juniors 17 and under are admitted free with each ticketed adult. Active, reserve and retired military and their spouses are admitted free with valid Department of Defense ID.
Oak Hill is located 81 miles from downtown Buffalo, on the southeastern side of Rochester.