Sharpie for autographs? Check.
Bathing suit? At a golf tournament?
In an attempt to enhance the spectator experience at TPC Summerlin, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is taking a page from the Las Vegas club scene and will be looking to have a dayclub vibe for those who need a break from golf.
Six pools will be strategically placed around the final three holes. The Hill, which has been a popular place to meet, drink and watch football the past few years, will add a new element of sophistication thanks to Hyde, which runs a successful nightclub at Bellagio and will bring that service to this year’s tournament, set for Oct. 16 through Oct. 19.
“I think it’s changing how we look at creating entertainment opportunities,” tournament director Adam Sperling said Tuesday at the media day to promote next month’s tournament, at which Ryder Cup member Webb Simpson will defend his title. “It’s going to be a different event for our spectators, and it’s going to make everything come alive.”
The Shriners Open experimented with a viewing area last year at the No. 15 green, where fans could literally touch the players. The close proximity to the green proved so popular that the tournament has expanded the idea to holes No. 16 and 17, where fans can sit at no extra charge and enjoy beverages sold through sponsors of those holes.
As for the pools, there will be lifeguards and security so things don’t get out of hand, and complimentary towels will be available. Two of the pools are part of the Zappos Fan Experience, which will include a nine-hole miniature golf course and other interactive golf activities.
The other four pools will be sponsored by Hyde and located near The Hill. All will be close enough that fans still can watch the tournament without compromising the integrity of the players.
Gary Dunwoody, the chairman of the Shriners Open, isn’t likely to take a dip. But he supports the changes and thinks the community-themed days will fit in nicely with the Shriners’ mission for holding this event, now in its seventh year.
“I always say, if you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes,” Dunwoody said. “I think change is a good thing, and I can tell you this tournament is the lead dog in the fall.”
Ticket prices will remain the same as last year — $30 in advance, $35 at the gate — and will include admission to The Hill. Advance tickets can be purchased at shrinershospitalsopen.com.
The prize money has gone up from $6 million to $6.2 million, and the size of the field has increased from 132 to 144. Sperling said that with the Shriners Open now part of the FedEx Cup series, the talk about trying to land a spot in the spring has all but abated.
“I think we’re well positioned where we are,” he said, adding that details on the field will be announced in the next few weeks.
Dunwoody said the Shriners, who are committed to the tournament through 2017, feel the same way.
“We achieved our goal of getting in the (FedEx) rotation,” he said. “You’re going to compete with something no matter what time of the year you play. We understand that.
“For us, this isn’t a fundraiser. This is an awareness event. We hold this tournament to create an awareness of what the Shriners Hospitals for Children do. We have 22 hospitals and a $761 million operating budget, and we’re getting great exposure through this golf tournament for our hospitals and the kids. Our donations are up. We’re building three new facilities in Montreal, Pasadena (Calif.) and St. Louis. We’re getting our money’s worth.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.