Dick's Sporting Goods Open back to normal

·6 min read

Off one dark year followed by a decidedly modified version last summer, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open is in celebratory mode for its return to presumed normalcy this week at En-Joie Golf Course.

Stars of the 50-and-over set are aligned in fine fashion to compete for $2.1 million in prize money on a municipal course that will host PGA Tour-sanctioned golf for the 51st time.

Competition is to commence Friday morning, with conclusion of play − if all goes according to script − to come roughly 5:30 Sunday in Endicott.

Aside from utilization of digital tickets, which has become increasingly popular in the sports and entertainment industries, there’ll be no remnants of last year’s ticketing model. For 2021, when in deference to lingering COVID precautions capacity was capped at 5,000 per day − including for Friday’s Old Dominion concert − there were no exceptions to the $500 all-inclusive package for the tournament proper.

A peculiar Dick’s Open setting for sure, but a far superior alternative to 2020 when the pandemic was root of Broome County’s highest-profile sporting/social event being scrubbed.

“There are some things that we learned last year that we’re able to bring forward this year and we’ll see how they go and we’ll adjust from there. Just like any other year, we want to get better and better each and every year,” said tournament director John Karedes. “I think our fans who were unable to join us last year, and the last time they were here was over 1,000 days ago in 2019, I really think they are going to enjoy themselves.”

And they may notice a few enhancements come chow time, i.e., addition of onion rings to the menu, new and improved Philly Cheesesteak, as well as familiar fare offered at first-time locations.

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“Someone coming to just people-watch and enjoy a sandwich and a cold beverage, they’ll have that opportunity to do it in a beautiful setting here at En-Joie Golf Course,” Karedes said.

Zac Brown Band will make its second Dick’s Open appearance for a concert to begin near 8 p.m. Friday. The band first performed in Endicott in 2014.

Saturday will mark the return of “En-Joie The Day on HH&K,” with free admission for all courtesy of the law firm Hinman, Howard & Kattell.

Just one previous Dick’s Open wrap-up round has been played later in a calendar year than will be this week’s Aug. 21 closer. That came in 2015 when on Aug. 30, Jeff Maggert completed a two-stroke win over Paul Goydos for his fourth victory in a 10-start span − as an astute columnist wrote, “ … fairly well Langerian, or back in the day, Irwinian.”

A pre-competition treat comes in the form of the UHS Golf Expo featuring World Golf Hall of Fame member and PGA Tour Champions legend Bernhard Langer. That’ll be held Wednesday, with Langer’s presentation to come some time in the 6:15 range on the 18th green.

The event is free of charge, but advance registration is required at dsgopen.com.

“With our partners at UHS, we’ve had some great health expos 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 expo, we may have had the ideal person right here under our nose.’

“Look at Bernhard, look at his age (64) and what he has been able to accomplish.”

The Dick's Sporting Goods Open champion will hoist this on Sunday.
The Dick's Sporting Goods Open champion will hoist this on Sunday.

In a mildly unfortunate twist of scheduling, the Southern Tier’s two giants of sports entertainment will unfold simultaneously 60 or so miles apart.

Watkins Glen International and its famed 2½-mile road course will be site of NASCAR’s Go Bowling at The Glen, the facility’s highest-profile event, to be green-flagged 3 p.m. Sunday. There, grandstand seating will accommodate 40,000 or so, with countless others on site.

“If we were closer, I would probably consider it more direct competition,” Karedes said of the conflict. “What is discouraging is, people are always looking for something to do in Upstate New York and you hate to ever have a conflict. It’d be great if we had our own individual weekends and we could all benefit accordingly.

“I do know for some people there is an intersection there and they’ll need to make choices, be in one place one day and another place another day. I hope at the end of the day that we both make out well.”

Likewise on the scheduling front, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open falls on the third of four consecutive weeks of senior tour activity, between the Boeing Classic outside Seattle and The Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Challenge assembling the field of players?

John Karedes, Dick's Sporting Goods Open tournament directors, addresses media members April 15, 2021 at En-Joie Golf Course.
John Karedes, Dick's Sporting Goods Open tournament directors, addresses media members April 15, 2021 at En-Joie Golf Course.

“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 being in Calgary,” Karedes said. “They know planes fly west-to-east same as they fly east-to-west. I think as an event, we have made enough of a name for ourselves here as a community as well as a tournament that the players know that they want to come to Endicott.

“The other thing, for the first time that I know of in professional golf history, you can fly from our event direct to the next event. You can fly from Binghamton to Detroit.”

The Dick’s Open field most certainly has star power up top: Steven Alker, Doug Barron, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, Miguel Angel Jimenez, to name some notables.

Come time to stage a marquee event such as the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, experience matters. Karedes, while a been-there/done-that leader, is leaving nothing to chance.

“This is the first big event we’ve done in three years so there is a level of excitement,” he said. “There is a little bit of a level of, ‘Have we forgotten anything?’ because three years is a long time. I have gone back and looked at a few more pictures just to make sure we’ve got things buttoned up.”

Dick's Sporting Goods Open schedule, tickets, TV

When: Aug. 19-21.

Where: En-Joie Golf Course, Endicott.

Purse: $2.1 million ($315,000 to the winner).

Defending champion: Cameron Beckman.

Tickets: Go to dsgopen.com.

TV (Golf Channel): Friday − 8-10 p.m.; Saturday − 7-9 p.m.; Sunday − 5-7 p.m.

Tuesday's schedule:

  • Event Qualifier (Links at Hiawatha Landing, Apalachin).

  • Practice rounds.

Wednesday's schedule:

  • Pro-Am, double shotgun starts at 8 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.

  • UHS Golf Expo featuring Bernhard Langer (he’ll speak at about 6:15 p.m.).

Thursday's schedule:

  • Pro-Am, double shotgun starts at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Friday's schedule::

  • First round

  • Zac Brown Band concert

Saturday's schedule:

  • Second round.

  • Guthrie Health & Sole 5K

  • Family Fun Night (movie “Sing 2” on Jumbotron, 8 p.m., followed by fireworks.

Sunday's schedule:

  • Sunrise Yoga.

  • Final round.

This article originally appeared on Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Dick's Open back to normal on PGA Tour Champions schedule