So I was fortunate enough to attend the Traveler’s Championship on Friday at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. I had never been to a PGA tour event, or any golf tournament for that matter, and I was definitely surprised at what I saw.
Instead of stuffy old men with ascots and pennyloafers, I saw everything from high schoolers to tattooed bikers. And every single one of them was slamming beers and/or smoking cigars. There were concession stands (also known as liquor stores) set up every 20 feet and I’d be surprised if all of them didn’t sell out of aluminum Budweiser bottles.
Oh yeah, the old men were there too, but they certainly weren’t stuffy. As a 70-year-old man purchased yet another beer, I heard his wife whisper to him, “that’s enough….you’re gonna get sick!” Isn’t that what you picture when you think of a golf tournament, old men getting hammered and puking in the hole at the 17th green?
Since I had no idea where I was going (at one point a security guard saw me wandering around and said, ‘Sir, are you ok?’ …and I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol), but when I eventually made it to the 8th hole, I discovered that I was watching Stuart Appleby’s group. I had heard of him, so I decided to follow them around. I had no idea what I was in for.
So after Appleby took his tee shot, Olin Browne stepped up and took his. Then, out of nowhere, came this clown in pink tuxedo pants, a visor with perfectly-gelled hair sticking out of the top, and a black polo shirt with a surprisingly unpopped collar. He pulled out his orange “big dog” and proceeded to crush the ball down the fairway. I gotta know who this guy is.
I look at my list of groups for the day and I see that this guy is named Eric Axley. And this is not the first time he’s dressed like this.
I don’t really follow golf (if Tiger’s not playing, I’m probably not watching), but apparently he’s pretty good; he tied for 9th at the US Open last weekend. That certainly does not excuse the behavior I saw from him over the ensuing couple of holes.
Highlights of Axley’s tournament:
8th hole: Getting pissed after missing a put and throwing his putter not once, but twice. Then, after finally making it, throwing the ball at 82 miles per hour towards his bag, leaving it for his caddie to pick up.
10th hole: Axley instructing his caddie to tell the spectators 200 feet away to stop moving so that he can concentrate on making his two-foot put (he made it…good thing there was no movement).
11th hole: Axley missing another putt and leaning over in disbelief, refusing to move for about 45 seconds while Appleby is trying to line up his putt.
13th hole: Axley stopping in the middle of the backswing of his chip shot out of the rough, turning to the crowd and yelling, “Come on guys! We’re trying to play golf here!” His caddie then points out a few adolescents in the crowd an tells them to leave. Axley proceeds to hit the chip shot over the hole and down a hill on the opposite side of the green. Of course as he’s walking he turns around and shakes his head at the spot where the “disturbance” happened.
Appleby and Browne, on the other hand, were consummate proffesionals, joking with the kids in the crowd. Appleby’s caddie politely asked some spectators to relocate when a drive went into the gallery.
By the way, Appleby finished the day with a 66, Browne with a 69. Axley, despite his theatrics, finished with a robust 76, failing to make the cut….by a lot.
I tried to talk to Axley afterwards, but unfortunately he couldn’t hear me over his pants.