The first professional golf tournament I ever attended was the Amana VIP-Classic way back in the early 80's while growing up in Iowa. I don't remember a thing about the golf except that somehow I got picked to be one of the bat boys at the celebrity softball game which accompanied the tournament and while performing said task I was able to secure the autographs of Johnny Bench and Ernie Banks on the back of my baseball glove. If you look real hard you can still see them now some 20 years later.
Fast forward to 2002 and there I was, 30 years old and in the stands of my second-ever professional golf tournament, the PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota. It was a Friday and the weather was turning foul but my friend Brit and I were willing to tough it out to see Fred Funk come up the 9th fairway, making an early charge at the Wannamaker Trophy that would eventually be snatched up by Rich Beem. We were the last two spectators ushered out of the stands, I'm proud to say, regardless of whether lightning was headed our way or not.
On our walk out to our car I couldn't help but notice all the other spectators amongst us who were wearing their golf shoes. Smartly attired in their favorite golf shirts and pleated shorts, yes, but why the golf shoes? To this day I still don't understand it. At least 25% of the people I saw on the grounds were wearing golf shoes and less than 1% of those people were playing in the tournament. Did they think after the last group came in they might be bribe their way onto the course to play a few holes before the sun went down? Did they think the traction was going to be that dicey between the bleachers and the beer tents? Like I said, to this day I still can't figure out the reasoning behind it.
Two years later I decided to do some more research on the subject so I went out for an afternoon of the Nationwide Tour's Scholarship America Showdown at Troy Burne in Hudson, WI. Unfortunately there were only about eight other spectators there that day (one of which was my insurance agent, oddly enough) so I can't really say I got much good data. Maybe a couple of other people had their golf shoes on but for all I know they worked in the pro shop. I guess I'll just have to wait until this summer when the LPGA holds their Women's U.S. Open at Interlachen to confirm or deny this phenomenon. As always I'll be sure to keep you posted.