WATCH ABOVE: Kevin Smith and golf analyst Robert Thompson discuss the benefits of playing in one of the pro-ams at the Shaw Charity Classic.
They come dressed to the nines, outfitted in their finest golf apparel. They sport caddies and tip it up on the same course where the pros will battle for the Shaw Charity Classic this week.
But once you see the shots, it is easy to distinguish the amateurs from the Champions Tour players at the pro-ams that kick off the tournament this week.
Take, for instance, one unfortunate player on the first tee during the Thursday pro-am, an even that pairs four amateurs with one Champions Tour golfer.
The amateur, clearly spooked by playing in front of a crowd near the clubhouse at Canyon Meadows, snap hooked a ball that went 50 yards forward and lurched left, narrowly missing spectators milling around before striking a food counter. It ricocheted off the building and hit two trees before coming to rest not more than a few yards from where it started.
READ MORE: 5 players to watch at Shaw Charity Classic
And that’s common at any pro-am, where amateurs hit balls into trees and spectators, while the pros find fairways and make birdies.
Despite their occasional struggles on the course, each team of four players pays $20,000 to hang out with a legend over four—or more likely five—hours.
That means players tee it up with golfers like Champions Tour stars like Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer or Rocco Mediate. On the PGA Tour pro-ams, the stars, who have to play in the pro-ams, often see the events as opportunities to practice, occasionally ignoring the amateurs who have paid to chip and putt with the game’s best.
WATCH: One of the highlights of the Shaw Charity Classic is the pro-am held at the Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club. It’s chance for local amateurs to tee it up with a legend of the game and raise money for charity. David Boushy reports.
Amateur golfers pick their playing partners at pro-am parties, though the top players are often assigned to key sponsors who support the tournament.
Unlike many of their PGA Tour counterparts, the Champions Tour players, who play two pro-ams each week leading into a tournament, are often outgoing and chatty with their playing partners, as if their personalities change when they hit the senior circuit. The players often sign autographs during their rounds.
During Steve Elkington’s pro-am today, for instance, the PGA Championship winner told stories about his caddie and his website, Secretinthedirt.com, while other Champions Tour pros read putts and gave swing tips.
Given the lofty price tag, it isn’t surprising to see many of Calgary’s biggest business names in the field, like oil and real estate entrepreneur Guy Turcotte, and Allan Markin, chair of Canadian Natural Resources, while Shaw Communications CEO Brad Shaw teed it up with Fred Couples and Packers Plus president CEO whacked it about with Scott Hoch.