Ranking the 10 Tournaments Every Hardcore Golf Fan Needs to Attend
Let's get this out of the way early.
The PGA Tour doesn't play on golf courses that look like your local muni, they only play the best layouts in the country and, in the major championships, in the world.
So every week, fans get to see the best players in the world playing on big-boy golf courses, manicured to the most minute detail.
But there are some tournaments that absolutely have to be on the bucket lists of the most hardcore golf fans. There are those that have great history, great individual moments and great champions.
Here's my top 10 in that category, starting with the Masters, which has evolved into the kickoff of the golf season for many fans.
There are far too many reasons to list here as to why this is the No. 1 tournament every hardcore golf fan needs to attend.
In part: the history, the course, Amen Corner, the azaleas, the pimento sandwiches, the tree outside the clubhouse. Augusta National Golf Club is golf.
You'll never seen greens and greens complexes like the ones there. You won't believe just how steep it is from the 10th tee to the 10th green.
Think that approach shot on 15 looks easy. Think again.
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
The combination of Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula (Shore) make for what might well be the most picturesque experience for any athletic event.
Pebble Beach Golf Links was once called “the most felicitous meeting of land and sea in creation” by Robert Louis Stevenson. And he was absolutely correct.
The short par 3 seventh hole is one of the most photographed holes in the world. The 18th is a great par 5, bending around Carmel Bay, creating a great finisher.
Spyglass Hill is more of an inland course, but has peculiar challenges of its own.
And the Monterey Peninsula course is something of an unknown jewel, but because of the tournament, is becoming quite popular. All in all, a must-see.
Regardless of where the oldest championship in the United States is held, you have to attend at least one U.S. Open.
Whether it’s Merion, Pinehurst, Bethpage, Shinnecock, Oakmont or Winged Foot, Pebble Beach, the U.S. Open is without a doubt the most complete test in golf.
If you like to see the best players in the world struggle, the Open is the place to see it.
Careers are made at the U.S. Open and you’ll see no more difficult conditions than in this tournament.
Is there anything any better than watching golf on some of the most historic and interesting courses in the world?
How about golf on some of greatest courses in the world with some of the most unpredictable and ferocious weather ever seen on a golf course?
Walking the fairways of St. Andrews, Muirfield, Turnberry, Carnoustie?
Now that’s watching golf.
The Players Championship
The Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass is a tribute to Pete Dye and his truly innovative design style.
Home of the historic island green 17th hole, the Stadium Course is challenging, picturesque and is one of the best courses in the world, especially in terms of spectator views and accessibility.
Get out on one of the many mounds around the course and watch the best players in the world try to make it around this monster without blowing a gasket.
The Memorial Tournament
On the course that Jack Nicklaus built, Muirfield Village Golf Club is one most spectacularly conditioned track on the PGA Tour.
It’s a true Nicklaus layout with enough slight and not-too-slight fades off the tee to remind you of that.
It’s not the easiest walk on tour, but it’s definitely one of the prettiest.
The par 3 16th is a brute and the 18th is one of the great finishing holes on tour.
The greatest to have ever played is always around, giving the event an even more elevated feel than other PGA Tour events.
Farmers Insurance Open
Birdies, bogeys, views of the Pacific Ocean, hang gliders out over the beach, fighter jets heading out to the ocean for training flights.
All part of the experience of spending time at a resort course you can play but turns into a stout test that will test the best in the game.
Torrey Pines has a pair of courses, the North and South, that are used for the tournament. The North is the more tame of the two, but has its moments as well.
It has some holes that run along the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. But the greatest of the views are saved for the South, which is the nation’s foremost municipal golf course.
The par 3, 149-yard third is reminiscent of Pebble Beach’s seventh, although much longer in length.
The 18th is a risk/reward par five that makes players decide about going for the green in two, which includes carrying a pond that guards the front of the green.
Tiger Woods’ annual event at Congressional Country Club in suburban Washington, D.C. is usually held over the Fourth of July and always features a strong military theme.
It’s another one of the must-plays for the best players in the world and part of the reason for that is the golf course.
Plenty of length, plenty of long holes that require big tee shots and precise long irons go a long way toward winning.
As an added bonus, you’re close enough to the nation’s capital to check out some of the history after the golf is over.
Hyundai Tournament of Champions
First of all, it’s Kapalua, Hawaii in January. How bad can that be?
The event has kicked off the PGA Tour season for many years, but this will be the last year for that with the season starting in the fall in the 2014 schedule.
The Plantation Course is hilly, features a bunch of funky lies, wide fairways and allows the winners from the previous season to hit the ball a long way, post some low numbers and make a chunk of money.
The 18th is probably the most familiar hole. The tee is perched on a hill and the drive is launched down into a valley that scoots the ball forward a long distance.
Players can draw their approach into a very welcoming green where birdies and eagles are a possibility.
Wells Fargo Championship
This tournament, previously known as the Wachovia Championship, has been played for 11 years and has become another of those must-sees.
The Quail Hollow Club has emerged as one of the best layouts on the PGA Tour, featuring one of the most feared finishing stretches on the PGA Tour.
The par 4, 480-yard 16th, the 217-yard par 3 17th and the par 4, 478-yard 18th are both challenging and dangerous.
The 18th has earned the nickname “Green Mile” because of its difficulty with a bunker on the right side of the dogleg left and a creek that runs the entire length of the fairway.