Pro-Ams offer unforgettable experiences
You're excited for the day. You’ll be doing something you love. But man, there sure are a lot of people watching you – and cameras clicking. Playing the historic Sedgefield Country Club is a thrill on any given day, but playing the Pro-Ams next to an actual PGA Tour player is on a whole other level.
The Wyndham Championship offers two Pro-Am experiences, the first presented by BB&T on Monday and the second on Wednesday benefiting the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Z. Wos Family Foundation. While you are treated like royalty with the Wyndham’s high-end customer entertainment, it is the closest feeling you will ever get to actually playing on the PGA Tour.
On the first tee, where you get to meet the tour player you are paired to play golf with the next 18 holes, nervousness sets in. “Wow, I am really about to play golf with this guy?” goes through your head while you take photos with him.
The PGA player is introduced by the starter to the surrounding crowd in the stands. After he hits his tee shot down the middle and receives applause, your anxiety really kicks in. Your name is announced next to tee off. You must hit a great shot down the middle in front of everyone like the Pro... but you’re shaking. Some people thrive under this pressure, but others find it difficult to just tee up their golf ball.
After the first drive, a sense of relief takes over as you begin to walk away from the crowd and really get to enjoy your day. It is so much fun as PGA Tour golfers are very personable and give you all of their time. The atmosphere gets more relaxed from hole to hole as vendors serve small bites of high-end dishes from their restaurants. Even though you’re burning calories walking the course with a caddie, your stomach remains full at all times.
The caddies fuel themselves for the additional energy needed to carry the golf bags but also get in on the golf action. The par 3 on #16 brings extra excitement as the caddies get their chance to win a free car displayed next to the tee box if they hit a hole-in-one.
After you make it through your day up to the elevated #18 green, everyone shakes hands with the spectators viewing from the luxury platforms. It’s an event where everyone wins, as more than half of the Pro-Am sponsorship goes to charity.
Back Nine Banter
The first year McConnell Golf hosted the Wyndham Championship in 2011, John McConnell was paired to play with Webb Simpson in the Pro-Am. Webb struggled throughout the day, landing in bunkers and missing putts. On the back nine John McConnell turned around and whispered to his sons, “There is no way this kid is going to make the cut.” Four days later Simpson captured his first PGA Tour win with McConnell, his new biggest fan, looking on.
One of McConnell’s favorite memories interacting with a pro came in 2015 when he played with Ollie Schniederjans in the Monday Pro-Am. He told the rookie that his low ball flight was perfect for the windy conditions in the Open Championship where Schniederjans finished in the top ten a month prior. Schniederjans confidently responded by saying, “My game is good anywhere,” as he struck the ball low over Sedgefield’s fairway.
That Wednesday, McConnell played with Tiger Woods, who asked him if anyone had hit the drive into the creek on #18, to which he said, “No.” Well, McConnell was sure sweating it when Tiger teed off on 18 that Saturday, tied with lead, as he came up just 15 yards short of the creek.
In 2017 Wyndham winner Henrik Stenson was also paired with the McConnells during that week’s Pro-Am.