The famous "difficult course" sign on the first tee at the Black might also apply to the freeways on Long Island. I went bright and early to Bethpage this morning to pick up my media credentials, managing to beat most of the crowd and avoiding the lines, probably for the last time this week.
It was fun watching a little of today's practice rounds. I also hung around the practice tee for awhile, then went over to the practice green, where at least half the spectators on the course were gathered to watch Tiger. He wasn't practicing, you understand, just standing there chatting with Steve Williams and Hank Haney and a couple of guys I didn't recognize. As far as the crowd was concerned, though, he was putting on a show. You could see them just drooling for him to walk along the fence and shake a hand or two, which was the furthest thing from his mind, of course.
I had to get home, however, so I walked back to catch the shuttle to the media parking lot where I'd left my car. Considering how far away it was from the course, I might as well have parked at home. When I asked one of the helpful USGA volunteers where to catch the shuttle, they directed me to a trailer. When I told the even-more helpful volunteer inside where I wanted to go, she hopped right to the task, called a driver over, and handed him the keys to a courtesy car!
The volunteer driver, an older man from Farmingdale, drove over an orange traffic cone in his eagerness to be of service, told me he knew exactly where I had parked, and we were off.
As we left Bethpage State Park, nothing looked familiar to me, but the driver assured me he knew where he was going, so I sat back to enjoy the ride. Thirty chat-filled and wrong-way minutes later, we pulled into the wrong hotel parking lot. Finally, I convinced him to follow the directions I'd been trying to give him all along. Eventually we got there.
Next time, I'll wait for the shuttle.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo