The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 5, 2012

Get ready to see Tiger on the hunt

There’s a Tiger loose on The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC Course, and everybody wants to see it.

If you thought the crowd following Phil Mickelson at last year’s Greenbrier Classic was out of control, wait until you see the galleries chasing after Tiger Woods this week. A Lefty is rare, but only a select few ever get to see a Tiger — especially in West Virginia.

The problem is, everybody — except for those few Tiger haters that refuse to come anywhere near — is hunting the same thing in the Greenbrier County wilderness. They all want to see that elusive cat.

But have no fear Tiger hunters. You’re in luck. I’ve been fortunate enough to hunt Tiger in one of his favorite habitats — the Augusta National Golf Club — six times over the years, and I’ve learned a few things on my jaunts. The tips — at least for the first time — are free, so use them to your advantage.

1. Let the Tiger come to you — As I said, everybody is looking to see the same thing. But a good hunter never makes his approach obvious. If you try to sneak up on Tiger on the first fairway — since the Old White TPC doesn’t allow fans on the No. 1 tee box — you’re likely to be disappointed. Every hunter has the pairing sheet, and each one knows the tee times. Trying to approach the target on No. 1 will likely leave you staring at another hunter’s backside, or perhaps being poked in the leg by a Tiger hunter’s weapon of choice — a folding chair tucked under his arm.

A better approach is to head to the third hole right around Tiger’s tee time. With all the other hunters setting up at No. 1, there should be plenty of room to find the perfect spot for tracking a Tiger. Before you know it, he’ll come straight to you, while all the other hunters are still trying to follow his trail.

When he’s gone, if you didn’t get a good look the first time, use the same strategy. Head up to No. 6 or No. 7, and before you know it, he’ll be right there.

2. Take advantage of the area – Any good hunter knows the advantage of a tree stand. The stands used in Tiger hunting are a little different, but they’re still just as effective. Make use of the bleachers that the tournament provides.

First, you’ll be able to get up higher, where you’ll have a better view of the land below — instead of the back of a 6-foot-7 man’s balding head. Second, the bleachers are strategically placed. They usually give fans a view of a few different spots of action. You’re likely to see an approach shot, some putts and perhaps even a tee shot at the next hole if you put yourself in the right location.

3. Keep quiet — If you’ve watched much golf on television, you know that a Tiger can be easy to startle. Keep your voice at a whisper, hold back your sneezes and make sure to stay still. Tigers don’t like noise, and if you make him mad by creating too much of a disturbance, you could find yourself being confronted by a park ranger in a Polo shirt. Then, your hunt will be over.

4. Wear the proper attire — You don’t need camouflage for this one — in fact, I’m pretty confident The Greenbrier frowns upon it — and you don’t need to cover yourself in any special scent. What you do need is something comfortable.

Don’t try to impress Tiger with your finest dress pants. Throw on some shorts. It’s hot out there, and it’s not going to get cooler anytime soon. Keeping yourself comfortable is an important part of the hunt

Second, wear shoes with plenty of cushion. It’s an expansive wilderness out there, and you’re going to do a lot of walking. Be kind to your feet, and your hunt will be much more enjoyable.

5. Put on some sunscreen — A Tiger hunt can last four hours or longer, and you don’t want to be sent back to the cabin early because your forehead looks like Tiger’s Sunday shirt. Keep covered, and you’ll be able to pursue your target longer. Bring a bottle of water or two with you, as well, and you’ll avoid having to stop in Howard’s Creek to fill up in the middle of your pursuit.

Keep these tips in mind, and I can promise you a successful hunt. You never know what you might see — or hear, for that matter — when hunting Tiger, but it’s usually pretty entertaining, even if it’s just watching the other hunters.

Happy hunting!

— Cam Huffman is a native of Greenbrier County and is the new Sports Editor for The Register-Herald.

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