ST. LOUIS, MO- After all the hype and buildup, the golf shots made out at Bellerive will start to count for real when the opening round of the 100th PGA Championship tees off in Town and Country.
Players have gone out of their way to tell the assembled media how impressed they’ve been with the atmosphere in the gallery for practice rounds. Practice!
“The atmosphere yesterday was almost like a Saturday. All the majors are similar, but this one in particular seems to have a great atmosphere all the way through the week.” –@TommyFleetwood1 pic.twitter.com/nKZpEmsHI5
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 8, 2018
Unfortunately, thanks in part to the rain, and as KFNS/InsideSTL’s Tim McKernan speculated in a Wednesday podcast, course conditions and possibly a need to fill time until the tournament started, some in the national media have been taking some chip shots at Bellerive.
From @ESPNCaddie on @TMASTL: I love St. Louis. It's the 100th @PGAChampionship, and whereas the @usopengolf is at Pebble for the 100th and @TheOpen is at St. Andrew's. Nothing against St. Louis. It's just Bellerive isn't in that category with regard to history.
— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) August 8, 2018
From @ESPNCaddie on @TMASTL: If you're a St. Louis golf fan, don't get mad at the people criticizing the course. Be mad at the people who brought the tournament here at this time. Can you imagine how great it would be if the @PGAChampionship were here in May.
— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) August 8, 2018
From David Duval on @GolfChannel: The PGA deserves better than what's been going on this week here. With the severe heat like they've had here, the course can only be so firm. Add in an inch plus of rain, and they'll be throwing darts. And it's not quite what everybody wanted.
— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) August 7, 2018
The criticism was a bit too much for Anna McDonald, a “retired National MLB writer, who went online to defend the region she calls home:
I knew the narrative of, “Why are we even in St. Louis for the PGA?” would become a thing. A few years ago I thought about reaching out to the PGA to write some copy for them in preparation for this week in St. Louis, but decided against it. So here is what I would say about and to anyone mocking St. Louis for hosting the PGA.
It takes an audacious vision to imagine the possibilities for a story about a boy, a raft and a river, such as Mark Twain did. It takes a bold ingenuity to envision a world with inclusiveness, such as Maya Angelou did. St. Louis has no oceans, no mountains, no lakes. We have rivers, and muddy, ugly rivers at that. We don’t have the opulence of Vegas, or the ease of the south. But we are a city founded by explorers, dreamers, ingenuity and grit. Our heart and pride go deep, and our old money pockets even deeper.
To the PGA players, staff, and national media, you are not going to impress anyone in St. Louis, or get any sympathy from us, asking why you are even here, and complaining about the heat, the humidity, the lack of crystal clear water and sandy beaches. We get it. We ask these same questions all the time. Yet we stay. We sweat and we freeze, and we play in the rain. We love our city, because we know our strength is found in our pockets of community and our resolution that anyone can become anything they imagine. Try making something of yourself in LA or New York and you have an easier launch pad, but come to smack dab in the middle of the country, and yeah, it’s not easy. But if there’s one thing that everyone loves about sports, it’s that you have to prove to world what you are really made of. As much as professional athletes today vie for any advantage with their personal chefs, trainers and over the top comfort clothes, you still have to show you can make it when it matters most. It matters most this weekend. So deal with what you’re given here in St. Louis, and show us what you’ve got. There’s literally no place in the country that can test the core of who you really are, and what you are going to accomplish, like St. Louis.
It’s fitting that ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ is playing this week at the Muny in celebration of 100 years at the Muny, while the PGA is hosting its 100th PGA Championship. My favorite shot of the Muny isn’t the actors and actresses on the stage, but the massive amounts of people that pack the entire opera house to come out each night in the summer – hot, rainy, muggy and miserable at times – to watch and support art and theater under the summer sky nestled in the center of the city. St. Louis will do the same thing for the PGA this week, we’ll come out and support the PGA Championship and give it everything we have. It’s what we do here. We expect a lot. Hopefully the narrative of the 100th PGA Championship will end the same way as Meet Me in St. Louis: “There’s never been anything like it in the whole world. I can’t believe it, right here where we live, right here in St. Louis.”
Again, this should all be forgotten in a few hours when the golfers start playing for keeps. In an interview with FOX2 on Wednesday, CBS’s Jim Nantz was able to rattle off St. Louis’ greatest hits in golf history place in golf history, something he’ll be passing onto viewers this weekend.
“It’s a pretty complete portfolio, and it’s pretty cool that on this occasion St. Louis gets to say Loud and proud, let people know they’ve got the 100th, it’s a big deal.”