SBD/March 3, 2014/Events and Attractions

Honda Classic Draws Strong Attendance, But Some Players Critical Of Course Condition

Heavy January rains caused fairways to be thin on grass at this year's Honda Classic
PGA Tour Honda Classic Exec Dir Ken Kennerly expects a 12% "increase in attendance at this year’s event at PGA National," crediting a "strong field, great weather and powerful publicity," according to Bill DiPaolo of the PALM BEACH POST. A 12% increase would "bring the tournament to about 188,000 spectators." It attracted 167,800 spectators in '13, a total that "marked an increase above the 161,700 who attended" in '12, when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy "staged a memorable duel." Attendance was 111,950 in '11 and 101,200 in '10. Full parking lots, "packed shuttle buses and long lines at the entry gates at PGA National Resort & Spa were hints that this year’s attendance was booming." Once "off the buses, the fans had to wait in lines sometimes up to 100 people long." The wait in line was "about 10 minutes to get into the tournament." There also were 1,570 volunteers for the event, the "most ever" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/3). DiPaolo noted most volunteers "work four-hour shifts, but some work more." Each volunteer "takes a 90-minute training course and pays $65." Volunteers get to "keep the hat and teal tournament shirt they wear during the event," and get tickets for "themselves and two friends for free admission to Honda when they are not working the event." Volunteers who "work at least three four-hour shifts also receive coupons for two rounds of golf at PGA National Resort & Spa" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/2).

GRASS IS GREENER? In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane writes the "weather was great, the crowds were fantastic and the field was the best on the PGA Tour this season." But there was "one major problem with this year’s Honda Classic: The fairways were extremely thin on grass." Golfer Rickie Fowler said, "If the golf course was like this every year, I wouldn't be playing." Heavy rains in January "damaged the fairway grass on the Champion course at PGA National, and there wasn’t sufficient time for it to recover." But golfer Adam Scott said, "It’s still a hell of a tournament venue, and look at the field it’s produced this year. It’s just getting stronger and stronger. It sits at a great date on the calendar, and if they can replace the fairways everyone will be very happy to come back” (PALM BEACH POST, 3/3). 
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