For most of the 150,000 golf fans who ventured out to Crooked Stick Golf Club for the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship in early September, half the battle was just getting to the course. They had to negotiate the often-congested roads of 116th Street, Ditch Road, and Towne Road. Then they had to find a parking place in Coxhall Gardens or the alternate parking area near 116th and Pennsylvania. And finally, they had to hop on the shuttle bus to the course.
But for a fortunate few, the commute to the gallery ropes was as easy as walking out their back door. These are the people who live in the Crooked Stick neighborhood with homes bordering the course. Bill Bonner has lived in his house near the number three green since 1994. He said tournament organizers had few, if any, restrictive rules for the residents that live adjacent to the golf course property.
“Just put off cutting grass between certain hours and make sure you let your dogs out when nothing’s going on,” said Bonner. Cleaning up after the dogs was a given – the high rough and deep bunkers were enough of a hazard for the likes of Tiger and Phil without also having to dodge a pile left behind by Sparky.
Scott Prince has a home on 116th Street that backs up to the teeing area of the fifth hole. He and his family and friends were sitting in lawn chairs lined up just to the left of the cart path. In addition to the mowing and dog-walking rules, Prince explained that residents were not allowed to put up tents featuring advertising nor could they make any direct solicitation of the golf patrons. Despite the luxury of being able to watch the tournament for free from his backyard and walk anywhere on the course, Prince chose to purchase a grounds pass good for the entire week of the tournament. “I just wanted to be compliant,” offered the six-year Crooked Stick homeowner.
On Saturday during the third round of the tournament, Muffi James was sitting at the top of a small hill to the left of the seventh hole anxiously waiting to see Tiger Woods’ group play through. James, a 36-year resident of Crooked Stick, has access to perhaps one of the best vantage points on the course. She lives on Prestwick Lane, a cul-de-sac that forms something of a peninsula that extends into the small lake on the eighth hole.
“We can see here seven, the tee on eight, we can see them play three, and we can watch them all the way down eight,” said James. She has lived in Crooked Stick long enough to see the 1991 PGA Championship, the 1993 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2005 Solheim Cup, and the 2010 U.S. Senior Open. James has also been a volunteer for each of those events.
Traffic in and out of the neighborhood was mostly a non issue for the residents. Leaving his house on 116th Street, Scott Prince found it “easy” to go west, away from the glut of cars headed to the Coxhall Gardens parking. Muffi James said she had little problem using Ditch Road, as long as she only wanted to go south. “If you wanted to go on up to 116th, it was terrible,” she said.
While Prince and James relaxed in their strategically-placed lawn chairs, back at the third hole, Bill Bonner seemed happy to stand in his back yard with drink in hand watching the action through an unusually-large space in the trees that ring the course. “I got a diseased tree that had to come down,” he explained. “So it worked out well.”
With talk of the BMW Championship returning in 2016 or even another PGA Championship in 2020, Bonner, Prince, James, and the rest of the Crooked Stick residents could once again have the best seat in the house.