Sports Tourism – PGA Tour BMW Championship

Lately I’ve been getting invited to some events from friends with free tickets, which has allowed me to go to see things I never would have paid for on my own. Earlier this summer I went to a NASCAR event at Gateway speedway in Illinois. That was a lot of fun and was well worth the time and energy of driving there and sitting and watching it. I highly recommend the experience and under the right circumstances I’d even pay to go see another race. It is loud, energetic, and there is always something going on while the cars are in motion.

On Friday I had another opportunity to see another sporting event which I never would have dreamed I’d see – the PGA tour! The event was hosted at the Bellerive Country Club in Ladue, Missouri.

First, the good news is that the event itself was pretty cool. We walked a portion of the course and saw a lot of the bigger names in golf today (no Tiger Woods, alas he was injured). It was pretty interesting to watch them play through a hole, see the crowd react to their shots, and generally see first hand all the oddities which you normally see on TV as you pass the Golf channel on the remote (I don’t watch golf, and haven’t played the game for 15 years). It is amazing to see a crowd of hundreds huddled around the green, all becoming perfectly quiet while these guys make their putts. The game of golf, as a sport, would hardly entertain someone who isn’t interested in golf as our day was mostly spent walking from hole to hole and if you didn’t watch carefully you wouldn’t even know who the big names were (they were however usually surrounded by the most people). On that score, golf is a hard sport to actually watch for the uninitiated.

The day itself was a bit of a downer though as the course parking lot was washed out which forced everyone to park at Riverport (miles away) and my friend and I literally spent 4-5 hours of our day either waiting in line for the shuttle bus, walking to or from the bus stops, or sitting on the bus. It was totally and utterly crazy to expect that many people to ride shuttles to the event (the bus ride was almost 30 minutes!). Imagine a line of people a quarter mile long and about 10 people wide! Bad form!

If I had free tickets again I might be pursuaded to go to another PGA tour event (we even had the high dollar tickets for free lunch, snacks, beer, etc which still didn’t help much) but I would never pay to go see another event. That said, if it did have one positive side effect I actually do feel the urge to get my clubs out, clean off the 15 years of dust, and go to the driving range. Golf is just one of those sports which is fun to play, but is a struggle to watch from the sidelines.


BrickBreaker on the Blackberry

After owing a Blackberry Curve for the better part of a year, I finally got involved in the one game that ships with the device after I had some free time during a recent game convention. The premise is simple enough, being like any number of block/brick games which require you to bounce a ball with a little paddle and break through bricks on the screen.

The game is frustratingly addictive, especially once you realize that everything either comes together or blows apart on Level 16. For many months of play (casual play, I’m not playing it around the clock!) I would do well on all the levels up until the dreaded 16th. No matter how many lives I accumulated, it usually sapped them all. However, one day I squeaked past the level only to be greeted with the strange land on the other side – and I wasn’t mentally prepared to overcome them.

Now though, I’ve made it past 16 with enough lives to make a serious run at completing the whole 34-level game. I have one life left, I’m on level 27, and hoping to take these fumes in my tank the whole distance. I’ve realized though that once you’ve gotten past the “hard” level at 16, the game really opens up and becomes easier. It becomes more about ball control as you go along…which usually means just getting the ball where it needs to go and then it follows its own path the rest of the way. Easy!

The secret to level 16 is to get the ball as vertical as possible when it goes over the top brick. For untold games I would shoot the ball sideways up the chimney so that it was shooting across the top and coming back down the other side over and over. If the balls is vertical it mostly does all the work for you. If you are really lucky you will get the gun power up, which allows you to remove the bottom row of indestructible bricks and hit the rest of the bricks from the bottom.

BrickBreaker continues the addiction which is inherent with Blackberry. Play with caution!

UPDATE: I was stopped at level 31. Now I have to start all over!

UPDATE 2: I reached level 33, had one ball left, and only a few bricks left to clear. Bricks were pretty low on the screen but I was feeling confident–until the ball did one of those crazy things and fit perfectly on the diagonal and dropped before I realized what had happened. So close! Oh yeah, in some games I waste 8 lives on level 16, while others I get through without losing ANY! Crazy game…

UPDATE 3: Victory! While some may see this as the ultimate time waster – I feel like I’ve accomplished a heroic feat by getting through all 34 levels.  It happened so fast I barely had time to appreciate it – and I whizzed right through level 34 and back to do level 1 again (it repeats the same 34 levels, but the ball moves faster now).  I told my wife that once I beat it I could finally quit playing it, but it turns out the game is actually more enjoyable now that I’m not stressed to make it to the end.  If I die on level 16 for the 1001st time, no big deal!  At least now I know that victory is possible.