White Sulphur Springs - Old and young fans alike flanked the ropes of The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC course Wednesday not only to see some of the world’s best golfers, but also to see state and national celebrities taking part in the tournament.
“Duck Dynasty” fever was in full swing Wednesday afternoon as Jase Robertson and Justin Martin from the A&E show joined Greenbrier owner Jim Justice and professional golfer Bubba Watson for a round of golf. Fans swarmed to get autographs and selfies with the stars as they made their way down from the first tee.
“I’m taking this all in. It’s pretty amazing,” Robertson said. “I could actually live here and I’ve been here five minutes. Love it!”
Justice invited brothers Jase and Willie Robertson to play with he and Watson in the tournament, but Willie was injured Wednesday after he spilled hot water on himself and couldn’t make it. Martin took his place.
Robertson said the unlikely friendship between he and Watson started after Watson sent him a tweet. He said Watson has stayed with him before, and he will be joining Watson and his wife, Angie, for dinner at their new home at The Greenbrier after Wednesday’s golf action.
“Through our faith and good friendship, having a lot of fun, we got to be good friends,” Robertson said.
While Watson’s golf game is world-class, Robertson said he will have to work with Watson on his duck-calling skills. The Robertson family became famous for its line of “Duck Commander” duck calls.
“He doesn’t hunt, but he wants to learn how to blow a duck call,” Robertson laughed. “It’s terrible. It sounds like something in distress.”
College football and basketball fans also had plenty of prominent figures to watch for Wednesday. Head football coach Doc Holliday, head basketball coach Dan D’Antoni and former football coach Bob Pruett represented Marshall; football defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, All-American basketball player Rod “Hot Rod” Hundley and assistant basketball coach Ron Everhart represented West Virginia; and head football coach Frank Beamer and head basketball coach Buzz Williams represented Virginia Tech.
Gibson said getting the opportunity to golf alongside Cameron Tringale was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. But it was also an opportunity to interact with his team’s fanbase.
“I think West Virginia has the greatest fans in the country,” Gibson said. “To be able to enjoy it and spend the day out here with them and talk with them, you know ... when we’re coaching, you don’t get time to interact with them, so to be out here in this kind of setting was great. It was great to see all the fans out and the kids and all.”
D’Antoni, who was just announced as Marshall’s new hoops head coach on April 24, used the opportunity to get to know Holliday better. D’Antoni said he and Justice are good friends, and in fact, he says he used to help Justice coach his AAU girls basketball team.
“Jim’s done a great job for southern West Virginia,” D’Antoni said. “Being here and being part of something he’s put on that puts West Virginia out in front of the nation in a good light ... I’m just happy to be here and proud of what he’s done.”
Hollywood fame was also mixed into Wednesday’s playing field. Actor and comedian George Lopez hit the course with pro golfer Trevor Immelman, Eric Lichter and Carlton Hardman.
A pair of young fans who missed getting Lopez’s autographs as he walked down from the first tee screamed at him from the ropes, and in a moment the two kids are sure to remember, Lopez waved the two onto the fairway to have their badges signed.
“It was awesome,” said Madison Julian, 12, of Owensboro, Ky., still breathless in excitement. “I was really excited. There’s no words to explain it... it blew my mind that he even looked over, let alone signed our stuff.”
NASCAR fans were also treated to Denny Hamlin, driver of the number 11 FedEx Toyota. Hamlin said he is an avid golfer — he said he has played The Greenbrier about 20 times and that the resort is like “a second home” to him.
The celebrity hype wasn’t just confined to the fans behind the ropes. Though Hamlin is a celebrity himself, he said he was excited to meet Virginia Tech football coach Beamer during the Pro-Am. Hamlin was born in Chesterfield, Va.
“He’s one of the guys I look up to and he does a great job coaching,” Hamlin said. “Obviously, he has a good relationship with my boss, Joe Gibbs, so it’s good to see the football coach out here playing some golf.”
Hamlin said Justice does a great job at inviting a variety of guests, and that the golfers he’s talked to have all praised the hospitality they receive at The Greenbrier.
“Everyone loves coming out here,” Hamlin said. “Talking to a lot of the pros, this is one of the marquee events for them because they get treated so well here and the family experience here is great. It’s obviously a place where you can come up here and enjoy yourself.”
Contact writer at 304-348-1796 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/amtino.
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