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Published: Monday, 6/28/2010

5 tips to get started at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg has covered all 25 Jamie Farr Classics dating to 1984, which means two things - he is old and he knows the Farr. So with the 2010 version of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, presented by Kroger, set to begin with preliminary events Monday at Highland Meadows, Hack offers five tips to watching the tournament:

Not the fish, the vantage point. Did you know that the Meadows' nines are reversed for tournament play? It's because of limited space for grandstands and skybox seating at pretty No. 9, which is No. 18 during regular member play. It's too bad, because while back-to-back par 5s to close play can create some interesting developments, the Farr's 18th hole, where there is vast seating, is a three-shot par 5 and, frankly, pretty boring.

Our favorite spots to watch the action include the grandstand behind No. 2, a nicely bunkered par 3 with an elevated tee over water, which comes into play only with a skanky shot, to a receptive, undulating green that produces a surprising number of good results. And if you like to watch while on your feet, there is a great area between the No. 16 green, where golfers face a blind downhill second shot, and the tee at No. 8, which is a picturesque par 3. Take a quick jaunt from there up a hill and watch chip shots to the green at No. 7, a par 5 and the longest hole on the course.

Before they are pros, before they are collegians, golfers sharpen their skills at the high school level. A few years back, the Farr Classic began a junior girls' pro-am on Mondays, and it is my favorite of all the preliminary events. There is a relaxed interaction between pros and the top prep players in our area. And the girls hold their own too. They are there to show their stuff.

Unfortunately, they play before a gallery pretty much comprised of moms, dads, siblings, and boyfriends, and they deserve better. So, if you're free this afternoon, the young ladies have a shotgun start at 1:30. Who knows? Maybe you'll spot an LPGA star in the making.

This is the 26th Farr Classic, meaning that for the 26th time bad weather is very possible. Hey, it's July (almost), and it's the Midwest. Stuff happens. And sometimes it's dangerous stuff. Keep an eye on the leaderboards. At the first sign of bad weather, warnings will be posted, and it's probably not a bad idea to find your way to the holes closest to the clubhouse. If and when the siren sounds to stop play, be in a position where you can easily and quickly evacuate the course.

Highland Meadows is a great course for the ladies, but one drawback is that it is a very compact venue, especially in the area of the clubhouse. Shuttle buses empty and load near the ninth green, the main concession areas are very close to the 18th green, there is considerable foot traffic near the No. 10 tee, and the clubhouse patio, which is usually SRO, is mere feet from the No. 1 tee.

A lot of Farr fans are not necessarily golf fans; they are there to see and be seen and they never wander far from the Bud Light Lime coolers. Remember, the golfers aren't necessarily there to have fun. They're making a living. Be sensitive to where they are and what they're doing.

This rears its head every year, so don't laugh. We're offering serious advice. I might be old, but I'm not dead, meaning I appreciate a short skirt and stiletto heels as much as the next guy. I just can't imagine they're very comfortable - the heels, that is - while walking a golf course. So, ladies, if your date offers a day at the Farr, remember, he ain't taking you to Metropolis or Avalon. Opt for sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or flats. Think comfort. You can thank me later.



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