Cue the calliope, the circus is coming to town–in golf tournament form!
Sorry. Comparing the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic to a mere circus may be the worst kind of smart assery, but on the other hand: there will be exhibitions by a strong man; there will be a midway, sort of; many, many (parking lot shuttle) rides; and chances to watch the show while seated under big sheets of canvas or polyethylene.
Don’t miss this. I can’t wait to watch Mr. Muscles, the defending US Open champion, the world’s third-ranked player, whose thunder off the tee may have you scanning the sky for lightning. With each full swing, the man’s lats and delts and pecs test the tensile strength of his Nike brand Zonal Cooling polo shirt and Flex pants. We’re talking about Brooks Koepka, who finished second at the Nelson in ’16, losing in a playoff to Sergio. Since then the stoic, heroic Koepka has won two US Opens (the last two) and finished second by one at the recent Masters. Koepka has crossed over into social media superstardom, too, with help from his photogenic and super-fit girlfriend.
“Life is what happens between coffee and wine,” asserts said girlfriend, Ms. Jena Sims.
The other must-see performer at the Nelson is Dallas’ humble hero, Jordan Spieth. Trinity Forest caddies testify that Jordan is so nice that he says “thank-you” each time they hand him his putter or his driver, neither of which have been working well lately. Jordan had flurries of great play at Augusta National, a course he’s dominated in his short career, but the flurries melted before they hit the ground. Will our classy and beloved Jordie end this slump for once and all by winning in his hometown?
No. Although he killed ‘em in Fort Worth three years ago when he won at Colonial, Spieth’s high-water mark in the Nelson was his first Nelson, when in 2010 at age 16 he finished T16. Perhaps being the nominal host of the event has been distracting, what with house guests and all. Also, Jordan has a big AT&T logo on his bag, and AT&T’s HQ is in Dallas; maybe being the golf face and name for the communications giant adds still more taters to an overflowing plate.
And let’s not forget the sub-plots and minor players. You’ve never heard of the third guy I want to watch unless you’re from Arizona, like he is. He is Charlie Beljan. During the second round of the 2012 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic – the final event of the year – the walls closed in on the big man form Mesa, a panic attack so crippling that he required hospitalization. Advised not to play, Beljan played rounds three and four anyway – and won the damn tournament. He’d been about to lose his card; the win gave him sudden nice money and a two-year exemption. Now that is a comeback.
Beljan’s caddie at Trinity Forest will be the club’s caddie master, Jonathon Willis, who knows the course, of course. “Hit it there, Charlie,” he will say. “Breaks left, Charlie.” Charlie wins and we’ve got a Disney movie.
Another category of things to enjoy this year will be what the Salesmanship Club chastely calls “spectator enhancements.” You cannot help but notice many enhanced spectators at any Nelson or Colonial, of course, especially if it’s hot. Not what they’re talking about. They mean improvements.
The Salesmanship Club runs this expensive show to fund its expensive charity, the Momentous Institute; they are a bunch of go-go-go CEOs and entrepreneurs who are not afraid to spend money to make the thing work. One “maybe next year” idea comes from Roman J. Kupchynsky, the well-known Dallas lawyer and TFGC member, where he is known as The Last of the Great Shotmakers. Kupchynsky suggests turning the big temporary building out by number fourteen into a night club when play is completed. It’s in staggering distance of the exit. Could work.
For this year’s Nelson, they’ve set up a rideshare lot across the street from the main entrance, and a Katy Trail Ice House replica by the fourth green, and I’ll have the mushroom swiss avocado burger, please, medium rare. Whatever else the Salesmanship Club has done – bigger drinks, springier turf – it’s gonna be good.
See you at the Nelson, a great show for a good cause. Not a circus.