At least that's what I always thought. Visiting last weekend's Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club may have changed my mind, however. No other sport allows you to get so up-close and personal with the athletes, especially now that NASCAR is cleaning out the riff-raff. For instance, after watching Tiger Woods hole out a 10-foot putt on Friday, I saw him pull a banana out of his golf bag. A nice big yellow banana, which had a small brown area near the top of it, which Tiger pulled off with a flourish and then threw to the exquisitely manicured grass below. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a sport for the masses, a game that even a Marxist could be proud of.
All except for the fact that it's so damn exclusive, of course. Most of the houses lining the fairways of Quail Hollow fall into the "mansion" category, especially the behemoths owned by local magnates Johnny Harris and Felix Sabates. Many areas of the golf course were off-limits to most of the crowd, leading to exchanges like the following. Man: "Excuse me, do you happen to know where the bathrooms are located?" Other man: "Over there, right past the privileged man's restaurant." Also included in this were a number of air-conditioned skybox-type contraptions, which one needed a special pass to get into.
But what's the point? Sports, especially those that are outdoor-based -- golf, football, baseball -- are better experienced out in the midst of it all, not stuck in some hermetically sealed icebox. From a clubhouse, you can't feel the exhilaration when Tiger Woods blasts a cannon-like drive just a few feet past your face. From a clubhouse, you can't yell "you the man!" (Unless, of course, Johnny Harris happens to walk in.) From a clubhouse, you can't...get hit in the shoulder blade by a golf ball.
Standing beside the green on the peninsula-like par-3 17th hole, I watched as a trio including pros Vijay Singh, Scott Hoch and Steve Flesch took to the tee box. Flesch lined up, took a mammoth swing, and launched a lazy fly our way. As in, coming this way. As in, coming right this way. As in...duck!
The errant tee shot struck a man to my left smack-dab on the left shoulder blade. The man look stunned for a second, rubbed his arm and then, with a smirk, pronounced himself OK, uttering the line of the Tournament:
"A mere Flesch wound!"
This weekend saw CityFest Live return to its old stomping grounds in and around the area contained within College and Brevard streets.While still full of the kind of acts -- Hootie, Jupiter Coyote, Sister Hazel -- that make me bemoan the fact that I've ever worn khaki shorts or drunk a Bud Light, the CityFest folks upped the ante this year with their inclusion of the NBA Rhythm "n' Rims stage, which featured some of the festival's more entertaining acts (see: The Roots, Nappy Roots, and Little Brother, to name but a few).
Late Sunday, I ventured back to see another top-notch Rhythm "n' Rims act, former Goodie Mob belter Cee-Lo Green. Green's performance was as full of energy as I've ever seen from such a heavy man, with the possible exception of Charles Barkley and Fatty Arbuckle. As Cee-Lo himself says, "How can I possibly be inconspicuous/When my flow is (so) ridiculous?"
After a time-out to go see a bit of Medeski Martin & Wood, I came back to the NBA stage to play a little PlayStation II (all you video game players out there, I apologize for all the bad things I've ever thought about you. If I had one of these at home, I'd never leave my PJs).
I was finally drawn back to the stage area by Mr. Green, who was closing his set with a mini-cover of Outkast's hit "Hey Ya!" Few people have enough charisma to effectively pull off such a cover, but our man Cee-lo, the Round Mound of Get Down, is one of them. Call him Andre 30,000.
A note of thanks to the folks at Charlotte Magazine for their nice words about this column in their latest issue. In naming Creative Loafing "best weekly," the magazine went on to opine that Scene & Herd is "consistently among the most entertaining writing in the city." What that says about the writing in this city is open for debate, but we appreciate the mention. The check's in the mail! (Note for newspaper conspiracy theorists: I'm kidding.)