Winkeler: PGA practice round an odyssey | Prep, College & Pro Sports

Tuesday’s trip to the PGA practice round at Bellerive Country Club in suburban St. Louis was an exercise in delayed gratification.

Delayed gratification — you know, like poring over hundreds of pages of history notes, then getting an “A” on the final. Or, taking hundreds of short-hop ground balls and then making a big play in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve a win.

Just getting to Bellerive Tuesday was a chore worthy of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Covering prep football has been fraught with excitement, laughter and missteps over the past…

We left Harrisburg at 6:30 a.m. for the 151-mile drive. Everything went according to plan until we crossed the Jefferson Barracks Bridge in south St. Louis. A traffic jam snarled traffic about two miles east of the off-site parking lot.

It took roughly two hours to travel that final two hours — a speed that is likely equivalent to days Lewis and Clark had traveling up the Missouri River.

The relief upon reaching the parking lot was palpable. Our joy was misplaced. We had barely reached halftime in this game of interminable delays.

After walking about a half-mile across the parking lot — not complaining, the exercise was welcome after four-plus hours in the car, we joined the security screening lines. Again, not really complaining here, because the clouds opened up just as we reached the magnetometers. While others were getting drenched, we stayed bone dry.

Finally, we joined the queues to board the shuttle busses. This was a relatively brief process, and soon we were herded into a dry, comfortably air-conditioned bus.

Streams of unconsciousness from the world of sports:

Finally, the end of our trek was in sight … at least, that’s what normal people would think.

Unfortunately, shortly after taking our seats, someone entered the bus, grabbed a microphone and announced that inclement weather had caused the PGA to suspend practice. As a result, no fans were being admitted to the course.

For the next 45 minutes, we sat on the bus. Again, it could have been worse. We were dry and comfortable.

Sometime during that 45 minutes my usually cheery outlook began to sour, figuring the PGA would probably cancel the practice round, or, if the bus ever started moving we’d probably get a flat tire.

Dear High School Athletes,

The panic proved to be premature. The bus finally left the parking lot and dropped us off at a church parking lot across the street from Bellerive. Then, it was just a matter of standing in line to have our tickets scanned.

That process ended sometime around 1:30 p.m. — nearly seven hours after backing out of the driveway in Harrisburg.

The good news … and, there is plenty.

The rain held off during the nearly four hours we spent at the course. Bellerive is a breath-taking course. The fairways are lush, the greens large and undulating and the bunkers are deep. You can play Jumanji for a month and not face that much danger.

We did get to see Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh on the driving range. We watched Adam Scott, Davis Love III, Charley Hoffman, Xander Schauffele and Gary Woodland play a couple holes.

And, watching the telecast this weekend was more enjoyable because of the sense of intimacy. In retrospect, the 7.5-hour trek was worthwhile.

LES WINKELER is the sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at les.winkeler@thesouthern.comor call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.

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