At the Byron Nelson, Golf Is Merely the Foreplay To the Real Action
Overheard at last week's HP Byron Nelson Classic: Jesus effin' Christ, didja see those?
In other words, screw Tiger Woods.
You, I and the tipsy woman with the low-cut top, high-rise bottom and oscillating morals know the truth:
As long as it has The Pavilion, The Nelson doesn't need Tiger. Or Sergio Garcia. Or Padraig Harrington. Or, let's be honest, golf.
While the dorky male patrons in the polyester slacks, uncomfortably formal shirts and ridiculous metal spikes whine about golf's biggest names skipping our stop on the PGA Tour, The Pavilion continues to make The Nelson golf's highest-grossing charity tournament by expanding its phenomenon as the metroplex's largest outdoor meat market.
Most golf tournaments are about birdies. This one is all about chicks.
"None," says 30-year-old Uptown resident Kyleigh Cope when I asked her at The Pavilion last Friday afternoon how much golf she would watch at The Nelson. "Golf? No, this is a big party. I buy tickets every year, but not for golf. It's just a fun place to be. Look around!"
Oh my God, did you give him your number?
Ironically, Byron Nelson—one of the most pristine and principled characters in the history of Dallas sports—initially cringed at the thought of allowing his tournament to sell alcohol, much less host a decadent sideshow just off the No. 1 fairway. Nonetheless, for years, booze and boobs have fueled The Nelson. But now, after Byron passed away and the greens died and the field deteriorated into all the pizzazz of a Saturday morning foursome at Tenison, it's as if the golfers themselves are anonymous extras, left to meander in the background of a raunchy, R-rated flick.
Last weekend's leader board included almost-famous champion Rory Sabbatini and a gaggle of nowhere-near-familiar nobodies named John Mallinger, D.A. Points, Dustin Johnson and James Nitties. (I said Nitties, not...) This from a tournament whose legacy boasts such recent unheralded champions as Ted Purdy and Brett Wetterich.
"My husband's out watching somebody or another play golf," says Cheryl Montague, 42. "I let him have his fun, and I get to have mine in here. We look around. We talk. Do a little drinking. It's all fun. All harmless fun."
Gently elbowed by a female friend giving her that raised-eyebrow, pursed-lip look of "Shut up and come here, stat," Cheryl adds a fleeting punctuator.
"Well, most of it's harmless."
Sadly, the tournament at Las Colinas' Four Seasons Resort and Club—despite recently topping $100 million raised for The Salesmanship Club of Dallas—has shriveled into a warm-up act for this week's bulked-up field at the Colonial in Fort Worth. The event may not be relevant in the global golf world, but in the local social scene, it's a perfect, intoxicating mix of exhibitionists, voyeurs and margaritas.
The Nelson was broadcast on CBS. The Pavilion would kill on Skinamax.
You're on Ashley Madison? What's that?
On this sun-drenched, 85-degree day, The Pavilion has officially made the transition from sneak preview to main attraction. Once a diversion, it's now the destination. Born as a modest white tent covering a couple of the club's tennis courts, it's matured into a giant structure along the lines of the Cowboys' recently collapsed practice facility.
Open to anyone with a ticket to the tournament, The Pavilion these days has numerous bars cleverly named "This Bar" and "That Bar" and "Your Bar," its own stage and "Pavilion After Dark" concert series, and a 75-foot video screen displaying "Live at the Pavilion" feed taken by roving cameramen.
The film crew seeks out extroverts, hands them a grease board and allows them their 15 seconds of fame.
One girl smiles, preens and pouts as she seductively displays her message to the thousands watching:
"I'm Melody Hudson! Single and Ready to Mingle!"
Betcha 16 coupons she didn't buy another drink the rest of the day.
Dude, grow a mustache. I'll grow a beard. They can't turn us both down.
The thing is, at The Pavilion ogling and flirting are not only accepted, they're expected. It's perfectly perverse, this intersection of boys wanting to look at girls wanting to be looked at.
"Well, duh, I didn't come here to be ignored, did I?" says Veronica, a slender brunette wrapped in a gauzy orange dress so tight you'd swear it was body paint. "The men know what's going on here, and so do the women. That's the fun of it. It's a big game."
Around 4 p.m. The Pavilion's main entrance organically morphs into a faux red carpet. The men line up to gawk. The women waltz in to be gawked at.
One small problem. Nothing funnier than a girl trying to be sexy in 6-inch eff-me heels only to realize she must navigate a red carpet that isn't actually a red carpet but more so a gravel, uneven, half-assed path. If I had a drink for every girl who stumbled, I'd...oh, who am I kidding? I did have a drink for every girl who stumbled.
Nipple! And panties!! Oh man she is wast-ed.
Over there a girl gently—no, make that forcefully—massages her breasts and, just like that, is handed a frozen margarita. In walks a woman on crutches, her leg in one of those very serious halo casts to protect a spiral fracture suffered in a motorcycle accident. There are girls in everything from modest, stuffy sweater sets (in case November makes a surprise appearance?), to white short shorts (all seemingly creeping for a place to hide), to skimpy, flimsy tube tops (their owners a hiccup away from public nudity).
The winners? A Charo wannabe outfitted in a gold Bebe shirt and matching shiny spandex pants stretched tighter than your budget, and a man wearing—swear—an orange T-shirt, blue athletic shorts, beach sandals and a snappy gray sports coat.
Read between the lines and see through the sex and it's apparent all this bad is helping the greater good. One booth—operated by very ambitious Southwest Airlines flight attendants—sells beer to help an autism fund. And everywhere you look there are volunteers in red pants, a warm 'n' fuzzy reminder that most of the proceeds will be funneled to the Salesmanship Club, a beneficiary sponsoring camps and centers for at-risk youth experiencing behavioral problems.
Cuban will go bankrupt before I buy that bitch another drink.
As night falls, the volume escalates. A local band called Joker's Deck appropriately belts out its first tune: "Runnin' With the Devil." Over the week, the stage will host Emerald City, Professor D, Jack Ingram and hundreds of thousands who thoroughly enjoyed the Byron Nelson Classic without seeing a single shot.
Live music, green grass, abundant alcohol and horny men. What we got here is Woodystock.
Gross! He was like totally staring at your chest. Just staring!
Was he cute?
As if we needed a reminder of the titillating theme, flying overhead the entire day was an airplane dragging an advertising banner for, wouldn't you know it, The Men's Club.
Sorry, Lord Byron, but the most important club at your tournament rests not in a bag, but pulsates under a tent.
Turns out golf needs The Pavilion more than The Pavilion needs golf.
You got any coupons left? I know she'll totally do it!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.