Leisure: Above and Beyond Par: Going Pro
When selecting a pro-am tournament, you should consider the obvious (quality of course, strength of field) and the not-so obvious (three rather than four amateurs per pro, walking and caddies, tee times rather than shotgun starts, additional special events). Individual spots typically cost between $4,000 and $10,000 and may include VIP passes and extra tickets to the main event. Following are a few of Robb Report’s favorite pro-ams.
FBR/XEROX PRO-AM AT THE WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
Held in late January or early February, the Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale course is known as "The Greatest Show on Grass." It attracts the most spectators of any PGA Tour event, including a gallery of thousands for the FBR/Xerox Pro-Am, creating an atmosphere that is the closest to an actual professional tournament. The pro-am features four amateurs per group, walking, caddies, and tee times. The $9,500 fee includes a lavish gift package. 602.870.0163, www.wastemanagementphoenixopen.com
ZURICH CLASSIC, NEW ORLEANS, LA.
This event in late April at the TPC Louisiana course has been called the best pro-am by the PGA Tour. The tournament is a favorite of the professionals, who come for the pre-event fishing and the incredible food. Top chefs including Emeril Lagasse play in the pro-am, while others, such as Paul Prudhomme, cook in person. (Food from leading New Orleans restaurants is offered on the driving range and at various holes.) Three amateurs play in each group, at a cost of $5,500 per player. 504.342.3000, www.zurichgolfclassic.com
TRANSITIONS CHAMPIONSHIP, INNISBROOK, FLA.
Held in mid-March on the challenging Copperhead course, this tournament also attracts a strong professional field. The pro-am’s format features tee times and three amateurs per group. Entry fees are $6,000 per player. 727. 942.5566, www.transitionschampionship.com
MISSISSIPPI GULF RESORT CLASSIC,SAUCIER, MISS.
This Champions Tour event debuted this April on Tom Fazio’s fabulous Fallen Oak course. The nearby Beau Rivage Resort & Casino is the host hotel for the tournament, making this a great destination event. The tournament plays four amateurs per pro, with spots sold only to teams, for $15,000 per group. 228.896.6365, www.mississippigulfresortclassic.com
RBC CANADIAN OPEN, CANADA
Canada’s biggest national championship with a pro-am, the Canadian Open has been held in mid-to-late July for the past three years on a premier course (St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto in 2010). The pro-am is $20,000 per three-person team and includes caddies. 800.263.0009, www.rbccanadianopen.com
MAYAKOBA GOLF CLASSIC , RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
This mid-February tournament is Mexico’s sole PGA Tour event and, given the beach-resort setting, features an exceptionally relaxed atmosphere with elaborate parties. Groups consist of four amateurs and a pro, with spots costing $4,000 per player. +52.984.877.2380, www.mayakobagolfclassic.com
BMW CHARITY PRO-AM, GREENVILLE, S.C.
This celebrity-heavy event on the Nationwide Tour is the closest thing to the fabled AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Held in mid-May, the four-day tournament takes place on three different courses, including the Thornblade Club. The top 14 pro-am groups also play a fourth tournament round on Sunday. The $9,500 fee includes three days of unlimited practice rounds and unlimited food and drink for two for the full event. 864.297.1660, www.bmwcharitygolf.com