After a dark year followed by a decidedly modified version last summer, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open are in celebration mode for their return to supposed normalcy this week at the En-Joie golf course.
The stars of the Over-50s group line up in good fashion to compete for a $2.1 million prize pool on a city course that hosts PGA Tour-sanctioned under-51 golfSt Time.
The competition is scheduled to start on Friday morning, with the end of the game – if all goes according to plan – around 5:30am on Sunday.
Aside from the use of digital tickets, which are becoming increasingly popular in the sports and entertainment industries, there will be no holdovers from last year’s ticketing model. For 2021, when capacity was capped at 5,000 per day in deference to ongoing COVID precautions — including Friday’s Old Dominion concert — there were no exceptions to the $500 all-inclusive package for that actual tournament.
A particular setting for Dick’s Open, but a far better alternative to 2020 when the pandemic was the cause of Broome County’s most prominent sporting/social event being scrubbed.
“There are some things that we learned last year that we can bring forward this year and we’ll see how they go and from there we’ll adapt. Just like every other year, we aim to get better and better every year,” said Tournament Director John Karedes. “I think our fans, who couldn’t be there last year and were last here over 1,000 days ago in 2019, I really think they’re going to have a great time.”
And you might notice a few improvements when chow time comes, including the addition of onion rings to the menu, the new and improved Philly Cheesesteak, and familiar dishes being offered at first-time locations.
“Someone who just comes to people watch and enjoy a sandwich and a cold drink has an opportunity to do so in a beautiful setting here at En Joie Golf Course,” Karedes said.
The Zac Brown Band will be making their second appearance at Dick’s Open for a concert that will begin around 8pm on Friday. The band first performed in Endicott in 2014.
“En-Joie The Day on HH&K” returns on Saturday, with free admission for all courtesy of the law firm Hinman, Howard & Kattell.
Only one previous final round of the Dick’s Open has been played later in a calendar year as this week, August 21st, approaches. That happened in 2015 when Jeff Maggert clinched a two-stroke win over Paul Goydos on August 30 for his fourth win in a 10-start span, as one savvy columnist wrote, “…pretty good Langerian, or formerly Irwinian.”
A pre-competition treat is the UHS Golf Expo, featuring World Golf Hall of Fame member and PGA Tour Champions legend Bernhard Langer. That takes place on Wednesday, with Langer’s presentation sometime in the range of 6:15 a.m. on April 18th green.
The event is free, but pre-registration is required (dsgopen.com).
“With our partners at UHS, we’ve had some great health shows over the years — Donna Caponi, Nancy Lopez, Peter Jacobsen, Annika, Jack Nicklaus,” Karedes said. “When I had a conversation with John Carrigg, CEO of UHS, I said to John, ‘Look, this is a health fair, we might have had the ideal person right here under our noses.’ “Look at Bernhard, look at his age (64) and what he has achieved.”
In a slightly unfortunate turn of events, the two giants of Southern Tier sports entertainment will unfold simultaneously about 60 miles apart.
Watkins Glen International and its famous 2½ mile street course will be the scene of NASCAR’s Go Bowling at The Glen, the facility’s premier event, with a green flag start at 3:00 p.m. Sunday. There, the grandstand will offer around 40,000 seats, and there are countless more on site.
“If we were closer, I would probably see it as direct competition,” Karedes said of the conflict. “What’s disheartening is that people in upstate New York are always looking for something to do and you hate ever having a conflict. It would be great if we could have our own individual weekends and we could all benefit accordingly. “I know for some people there is a crossroads and they have to make decisions, have to be in one place one day and be in another day. I hope that at the end of the day we both get along well.”
Also in terms of scheduling, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open falls in the third of four consecutive weeks of the Senior Tour, between the Boeing Classic outside of Seattle and the Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Challenge to assemble the field of players?
“For a number of years players have been leaving Endicott and going to Seattle, and this year it’s the opposite, they’re going to Seattle after they were in Calgary,” Karedes said. “You know that planes fly west to east the same way they fly east to west. I think as an event we’ve made a name for ourselves here as a community and as a tournament so players know they want to come to Endicott.
“The other thing, for the first time that I know of in the history of professional golf, you can fly from our event straight to the next event. You can fly from Binghamton to Detroit.”
The Dick’s Open field certainly has stars at the top: Steven Alker, Doug Barron, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, Miguel Angel Jimenez to name just a few.
Come time to host a marquee event like the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, experience counts. Karedes leaves nothing to chance.
“This is the first major event we’ve held in three years, so there’s a lot of excitement,” he said. “There’s a bit of a ‘did we forget something?’ Because three years is a long time. I went back and looked at a few more pics just to make sure we buttoned everything up.”
Open Dick’s sporting goods
When: 19-21 August.
Where: En Joie Golf Course.
Wallet: $2.1 million ($315,000 for the winner).
Defending Champion: Cameron Beckman.
Tickets: See dsgopen.com.
Schedule: Tuesday _ Event Qualifiers (Links at Hiawatha Landing). Tuesday _ practice rounds. Wednesday _ Pro-Am, side-by-side starts at 8am & 1:30pm; UHS Golf Expo with Bernhard Langer (he speaks at around 6:15 p.m.). Thursday _ Pro-Am, Side-by-Shot Starts at 8:00am & 1:30pm Friday _ First Round; Zac Brown Band concert. Saturday _ Second Round; Guthrie Health & Sole 5K; Family Fun Night (film “Sing 2” on Jumbotron, 8 p.m., followed by fireworks. Sunday _ Sunrise Yoga; final round.
TV (Golf Channel): Friday _ 8pm-10pm; Saturday _ 7-9pm; Sunday _ 5-7pm