My Life With The Ryder Cup Cult: Part Two

Read Part One here.

When we had finished our walk of the course and found ourselves back at the entrance, we agreed to go and check out some of the sponsor tents that we didn't need credentials to get into. There were three: Le Golf National, Samsung, and Mercedes-Benz. These tents, other than the larger-sized merchandise shop, were the biggest tents there.

golf, Minnesota, Ryder Cup

We stopped in first at Le Golf National, France because we went to them in order, duh. The 2018 Ryder Cup will be in France, so they were promoting it, hoping that the people at this Ryder Cup would be the kind of people to go to France for the next one. Also, the tent was to promote golf courses and hotels in France for vacation purposes. We got some free pictures that were a little bit bigger than postcards, a golf tee, and a scratch-free-wiping-cloth-thing.

There were three French women working in the tent, and I think one French man. One of the women came over and talked to us while we looked at the pictures and random free brochures. She didn't have as thick of an accent as one of the women at the front greeting desk, but it was still pretty neat that we were talking with someone from another country. She asked us where we were from, if we would consider going to France etc. There was much more to the conversation, but I really can't remember what else, and I really don't need to duplicate it here. She did get us to sign up for a chance to win a trip to the next Ryder Cup or other golf vacation packages in France. I probably won't win, but if I did, it'd be cool. I think I'd get about a solid three (or more) blog posts out of that. *Snicker*

We moved on to the Samsung tent. I think it was technically called the Samsung Experience. That was potentially cooler than the French tent, but it turned out to be pretty lame. They wanted us to sign up for a free TV, so why not? We had to get wrist bands with a chip in it (possibly an RF chip) to enter the tent, and those allowed us to participate in the exhibits.

We walked over to the virtual reality golf "experience." We waited in line and chatted with a Samsung worker. There were three stations set up, but only one could be used for left handers, me. So, that meant I had to wait a tad longer. Then my station had to be restarted three or four times before I could begin the "experience."

Then, the "experience" began, and I was transported into a world that looked like a video game. I was supposed to take practice swings with the tiny iron I had in my hands, but the timing between my actual swings and what happened in virtual reality were way, way off. Then the game told me that a ball would appear, which never did, and I was to swing at it. I swung, kind of, and apparently I hit the ball, because the next thing I saw was a ball flying through the air. I must've been flying behind it because that's what my perspective was. I watched, or rather followed, the ball descend down to the green and almost roll into the cup, stopping about an inch in front of it. "Wow, good job!" the VR game said to me in a somewhat condescending way.

My first thought was that, no matter what I did, this was what happened to everybody. The simulation was rigged to make everyone feel equally as good for their efforts. Everybody gets a ribbon despite skill level or effort. It's very prevalent within society these days, so why not for this VR exhibit? Samsung would want everyone walking away from this feeling good about themselves.

I talked with my co-worker afterward, and although I don't remember what exactly happened with his ball, his ball did not lie exactly how mine did. I guess that possibly means I did pretty good for not even knowing I was doing something. That's actually not fun. The effort in doing something and seeing the effects of it are what make things fun and rewarding. It's still possible, though, that the game was rigged to make everyone's ball land on the green.

We had spent, or wasted, enough time on the golfing VR that we decided to skip the rest of the "experience." The rest included: a giant TV wall that was basically just Ryder Cup coverage, a TV wall that showed pics in real-time that were hash-tagged with something about Samsung and the Ryder Cup, some new TVs they were trying to push, and a different VR "experience."

The other VR "experience" was another type of entertainment that Samsung is trying to popularize—virtual tours. As the Samsung employee was telling us at the golf VR, Samsung has an app you can download that allows the viewer to tour museums, cities, or landscapes around the world. I don't know what all is possible, but you get the idea. That actually sounds pretty awesome, right?!

I suppose I should add that these "experiences" were done with a Samsung phone attached to a headset. While I do think this is a futuristically cool and promising idea, I still think it's a little ways off from being technology that really wows, at least the golf VR. It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the VR and then again back to real reality. I don't know if the transition back takes longer if one spends more time in VR. I can see this being a vision problem for some, maybe even a vomiting problem.

We left the tent feeling a little cheated, but we at least could win a free TV, right? Wrong. I discovered that night through fine print in an email from Samsung that said I was eligible for the TV drawing by "scanning in" to three experiences. We only scanned into the golf VR with our chip bracelet. I promptly unsubscribed my email. No thank you, Samsung.

After leaving the Samsung tent, we entered the Mercedes-Benz tent. This tent consisted of about five automobiles that, even though I don't know their price, were surely too expensive for me. Also, there was a very cold and modern looking, three hole mini-golf course that people were playing to win something. I don't think it was a car, but we had enough of that business already from the Samsung and French tent.

There wasn't much else in the tent, and if I can't remember what, which I don't, then it probably doesn't need to be mentioned. I think there were some docks for people to recharge devices such as phones or tablets. We weaved through the automobiles, making quick business of our time in there. We were getting hungry.

golf, Minnesota, Ryder Cup
We weren't exactly sure if there would be lunch food at the hospitality tent, but we figured there was a good chance. We had eyed the menus of the food tents on our jovial quest that morning. Expensive. However, the most expensive sandwich intrigued me. The Official Ryder Cup Burger was thirteen dollars. Was it worth the cost? I'm not sure any sandwich is worth that much, but if there is, this might be one of them. It's a burger, with pulled pork, some crunchy fry-like stuff, and melted cheese sauce. We were able to add lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions. I obviously didn't add the onions, since I don't do raw onions. All of this was of course on a bun, I don't remember what kind. Regardless, it was DELICIOUS! So, I guess it was worth the cost. I purchased a five-dollar, sixteen-ounce Mountain Dew at this time as well. That, in hindsight, was not worth the cost.

We continued walking after our lunch. We had decided when we embarked on our tour of the course, after we left the tent on hole ten, that we would make our way back around to ten before we left for the day. So, we did. When we got back, other employees from our company along with customers were eating lunch.

We walked in to see what the spread was and grabbed a plate. Why not? It had been at least fifteen minutes since we had eaten and we DID walk some of it off. I was pretty hungry, too, because I really didn't eat a lot prior to lunch. All of the fresh air and walking must be the reason why I was able to eat more. Maybe. I ate a pulled pork sandwich and a half plate of deserts. I was definitely full then. I still had the overpriced Mountain Dew, but I wanted to take advantage of the free drinks at the tent, so I had a beer. There was plenty of food for it to soak into.

After our second lunch and a little elbow rubbing with the elite, we looked out onto the lake and held hands. We told each other how much we meant to each other. I laid my head upon his firm, comforting shoulders. We knew our time left together was short and that our lives would never be the same again. We watched some ducks take off from the lake. We were envious of their freedom, but we knew that when we were in each other's arms, it felt like we were flying. Whoops. A little copy/paste accident with the romance novel I'm writing. It's about shirtless people and horses. It writes itself.

We walked around some more, mostly heading towards the exit, and joined the very quickly moving line to get on a shuttle bus. The route back to Canterbury Park was the same as getting to Hazeltine but in reverse. I suppose that makes sense, but you never know. There was no video to keep us entertained, only looking out the window and overhearing a conversation or two around us.

I'm pretty sure my co-worker was tired. I know I was. We were both up early and had spent the day so far walking around outside in the chilly, fresh air. The only ingredient missing from a recipe for sleep was a comfortable place to relax. The bus did not help. The seats were comfortable.

We left Hazeltine around one pm, which was the plan to start with. We didn't want the event to consume our whole day as we had lives and families to get back to. The time we had spent at Hazeltine was enough. There really wasn't any more that we could get out of it. Unless, of course, we wanted to stay for the atmosphere of the event.

After we got off the bus, we headed towards my car, remembering that we must look for the light pole labeled with an "M". We had to chase Dirty Mike and The Boys away, as they were nearly successful at breaking into my car. We arrived at just the right moment, I guess. We weaved through the maze that is event parking and followed the signs to make it onto the highway. We needed to get back to my co-worker's auto at the place of our working. We said our goodbyes and parted ways.

It was a nice feeling to be heading home. I was still sleepy and wanted to be done with driving for the day. I wanted to tell my wife how it went, interact with my infant son, get a few things done before the kids started getting home off of the bus, and try to make an early dinner happen (as always). It was time to get back to life, back to reality. Real reality, not virtual.

It was a life experience I most likely will never repeat. I'm okay with that. To sum it all up, it's like I told my wife when I told her that I had been invited but didn't know how much I wanted to go—it's something to write a post about. I guess there's always that.

golf, Minnesota, Ryder Cupgolf, Minnesota, Ryder Cup

golf, Minnesota, Ryder Cupgolf, Minnesota, Ryder Cup

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