The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 3, 2014

Friends, family meet to share fun at Classic

Maybe it’s the sprawling green fairways, stately white structures or even the fan-favorite fried green tomato sandwiches, but one thing is certain: Something about The Greenbrier Classic has endeared the annual golf outing into the hearts of families and friends near and far.

Now in its fifth year, many of the visitors who attended the PGA Tour event in its 2010 debut continue to make the trek to White Sulphur Springs year after year to catch some sun, fun and sport.

While father-and-son spectators Mike and Wyatt Hendrix, of Bangor, Maine, said that this year marked their first time at the Classic, they’re already planning to make the event an annual tradition.

No strangers to West Virginia, Mike lived in White Sulphur Springs until he was 8, and he and his family make annual trips to visit his parents who moved back here for their retirement.  

While the Hendrixes usually partake in Fourth of July festivities in Maine, Mike said that they chose to spend their holiday at the Classic this year.

“This is our vacation,” said Mike. “The Greenbrier is beautiful; we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

While most people regard the tournament as a leisurely outing, some of the most convicted golf fans on the grounds opt to employ the “work now, play later” approach.

Sporting either red or periwinkle blue polo shirts, even the Greenbrier Classic volunteers seem to follow the trend of being linked to their roles by family or friends.

Brothers Billy and Willard Mills, of Green Sulphur Springs, worked side-by-side Wednesday as marshals, who are tasked with the delicate role of calming the crowd during players’ tee shots.

Many volunteers envy those who get the exciting task of working “inside of the ropes,” and Willard told The Register-Herald that it’s a pretty decent gig.

“I just like the excitement of being around the course,” said Willard, adding that earning a complimentary round of golf on Old White for his work doesn’t hurt, either.

“I’ve volunteered here every year,” said Willard. “I have two sons, and each year they take turns and come golfing with me for the free round they give me for doing this.”

Also serving the double duty of being ambassadors for West Virginia, Willard and Billy said that they both enjoy being able to talk to all of the visitors and tell them about the area.

“We’ll tell them where to go and things to see. If they ask us anything we’ll run our mouths about how much we love it here,” Willard said, laughing.

Sitting under one of the shaded boxes resting above the 17th green on the Old White course, friends Frances McCallister and Annette Carper watched golfers try their luck sinking puts during Wednesday’s pro-am event.

“I just enjoy the atmosphere and seeing all of the friendly people,” said McCallister, who lives in Alderson. “It’s a good event to reconnect with friends and family that you may not get to see often.”

Such was the case with she and Carper, who attend the event together each year. McCallister said that Carper used to be the pastor at her church, but has since moved to New Haven in Mason County, and the two have to work a bit harder to stay in touch.

“We made a pack the first year we came here,” said McCallister. “We’re going to continue to come together as long as we can walk.”

The Greenbrier Classic continues today beginning at 7 a.m. Weekly grounds badges can be purchased at www.greenbriershopping.com.

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com

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