Balls to golf!

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

THORNBURY, Ont. -- Mark James, the friendly media guy at the Ford Wayne Gretzky Golf Classic here at the Raven Golf Club at Lora Bay, suggested that I grab a bite to eat in the clubhouse if I was hungry.

And I was famished, but frankly, I couldn't be bothered. I decided that I'd rather starve and drink water out of a ditch than try to get back into the clubhouse.

The thing was, I didn't want to be yelled again or be swarmed by another group of golf course secret police i.e. the volunteers.

But that's professional golf for you. The people running pro golf tournaments, including the volunteers, who think being around professional golfers is like being next to God, are a pain in the ass.

I arrived at the Raven at Lora Bay (yet another pretentious club name) on Thursday, hoping to interview the Great One. And, thank goodness, Gretzky was his usual gracious self.

But I couldn't get out of the joint fast enough.

Covering golf tournaments always leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and from the moment I arrived at the Raven, the place gave me a bad vibe, or at least the people running the tournament.

After receiving my media pass, I was told that a media room was set up in the main clubhouse. But as I walked up the stairs toward the clubhouse, I was immediately surrounded by volunteers, those retired bank managers and insurance company executives who wear their official tournament shirts like they're Victoria Cross medals.

One guy looked like he was going to spit when I told him I was only trying to get into the media room.

"It's over there," he said, waving toward a smaller building. No smiles, no hellos, nothing but a look of contempt.

Then, after entering the smaller building, I asked a lady sitting in a room with computers and papers if it was the media room. I was assured that it was, so I placed my computer bag on a table.

After conferring with young Mr. James, who couldn't have been more co-operative, I went back into the room to drop something off and as I walked out again, some guy in yet another official tournament shirt yelled: "Excuse me, can I help you?"

It was not a friendly tone.

"No, I'm good thanks," I replied, walking away.

"Excuse me, can I help you?" he repeated, as if I was some kind of moron.

"No, I'm good," I repeated.

"No, I don't think you are," he said.

At that point, I figured something was amiss.

"Isn't this the media room?" I asked.

"No it's not," the guy said.

"So I can't set up my computer here?" I asked.

"No you can't," he said. The scorn was overwhelming.

You know, if there's ever a revolution in this country, and the way the world economy is going I predict there will be, I hope the angry masses with their pitch forks and flaming torches overrun golf courses as a first order of business.

I've covered a few pro tournaments in my day, including five or six Canadian Opens, and never really enjoyed it, never felt comfortable.

A few years ago, I was walking the course at the Canadian Open when I accidently veered a little too far from rope lining the side of the course. Immediately, a volunteer and a TV camera guy ran up to me yelling to get back to the side.

Another time, I made the mistake of clearing my throat as a group of PGA players were warming up before teeing off. The thing was, they weren't actually getting ready to tee off, but a course official jogged over and planted himself in my face like a Stasi Lieutenant manning the Berlin Wall.

As I sit here at the Raven, I'm deathly afraid that I may be typing too loud. I don't want to offend anyone. I also don't want to make any sudden movements, or untuck my shirt or let my note pad hang outside of my back pocket untowardly. I kid you not, but when I walked downstairs to go the bathroom a volunteer gave me a look.

"I drove by a farmer's field some miles back," I wanted to scream at the dude. "Should I go take a leak there?"

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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