Unless you have VIP credentials or you're affiliated with a major sponsor, chances are if you attend a PGA Tour event you're going to wind up parking off-site somewhere and taking a shuttle to the tournament.
No knock on the folks running the logistics of theses operation, but you can figure on at least an extra hour each way, coming and going, not to mention that once you're at the event, you're there for the duration. The times when it's 90 degrees or above – or in the case of the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, when it was cold and it hailed -- it sure would be nice to have a private place to retreat to for an hour or so.
Which is why the ultimate way to see a PGA Tour event is to actually stay on site. That's option is not available for all tour events, of course, but it is at many of them, including the upcoming Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, April 5-8.
The Valero Texas Open, in fact, has more rooms available for spectators than any other tournament on the schedule. That's because the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country and Spa is the largest onsite hotel at any golf course in the United States, much less the Tour, with more than 1,000 rooms. Unfortunately, if you don't have a room for this year's Valero, which will be played the week before The Masters, you're out of luck. That's because the hotel is sold out, many of them through the tournament's corporate sponsors, of course. But it's not too early to plan for next year, and a limited number of rooms will soon be available for 2020. (To book a golf package at the TPC San Antonio and JW Marriott San Antonio other than tournament week, click here.)
In fact, that's a common theme for most of the PGA Tour sites with hotels. Players also take up many of the rooms, but there is usually a block available for spectators. You just have to get in early and expect to pay the premium rate. But if you can, it can be so worth it.
Stay, watch and play
Although the JW Marriott at the TPC San Antonio is full during tournament week, let's still take a look at what it would be like to stay there and take in the Valero Texas Open.
First of all, you can get up when you want to and go to the tournament. You could get up before dawn, maybe eat breakfast in the room and then head to the driving range before the first tee times and maybe get a seat at the first tee bleachers as they announce the first groups.
After watching golf all morning, lunch on the course, followed by a quick nap in air-conditioned room might do the trick. Or you could cool off at the River Bluff Water Experience, a nine-acre water park featuring a 650-foot rapid river and 1,100-foot lazy river, available only to resort guests, of course. Then it's back out to the AT&T Oaks Course to watch a little more action or maybe even better, see if you learned anything by playing the other course.
That's right, the other course at TPC San Antonio, the Pete Dye-designed AT&T Canyons Course, is open for play. It's not available every day to resort guests during tournament week – there are corporate outings Thursday and on the weekend -- but at the time of this report, there were tee times available Friday afternoon and earlier in the week.
You'd be playing another tour course if you decide to play golf that week at the TPC San Antonio. The Canyons Course was the site the PGA Tour Champions' San Antonio Championship, last played in 2015.
After golf – whether you're playing or watching – you won't have to get on a bus if you're staying at the resort. More fun options abound, from a hot-stone massage at the resort's Lantana Spa to a great steak at 18 Oaks or you can watch early season major league baseball or an NBA game at the sports bar High Velocity, which has some of the biggest screens and best craft beer you'll find anywhere.
More PGA Tour stay-and-attend options
There are at least a dozen PGA Tour events with onsite hotels that make rooms available for spectators. Some have more rooms than others, some also offer additional golf opportunities, and of course, some do not.
If you want to play golf during tournament week, a good one to attend would be the RBC Heritage Classic at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, right after the Masters. Accommodations are sold out during the tournament this year, so if you want to stay, play and watch, you'll need to look to 2020 and beyond. Of course, you won't be able to play at the famed Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the tournament, but Sea Pines offers two other top-notch courses for those staying at the resort – Heron Point by Pete Dye and recently redone Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III.
Another great option for those looking to stay at a PGA Tour tournament site during tournament week would be the Fairmont Scottsdale (Ariz.) Princess, which is right next to The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. Unfortunately, all rooms are sold out for the week of next year's tournament, Jan. 30-Feb. 2, 2020, but you can always check for cancellations or plan for 2021 and beyond. This is also a site that offers an additional golf course for resort guests to play during the week – The Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale, a fun, parkland layout right next to the Scottsdale airport (shuttle from resort to course provided). Guests of the Fairmont during the tournament have their own entrance to the tournament near the no. 5 tee.
Here's a quick look at other PGA Tour tournaments that offer onsite accommodations, according to the PGA Tour:
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am- Pebble Beach (early February): Pebble Beach Resorts (which also has the 2019 U.S. Open and is offering centennial golf packages) has plenty of lodging options, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay and the newer Fairway One Cottages. But this is such a huge tournament that includes celebrities and CEOs that lodging during tournament week fills up fast but is not impossible to land. Pebble Beach Resorts has five golf courses. Two of the resort courses are used for the tournament (Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill), but there are opportunities to play the other courses, like The Links at Spanish Bay.
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (early March): Guests can stay at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, but it only has 70 rooms, so opportunities are very limited. The tournament is played on the Championship Course. The only other course at the resort/private club is the nine-hole Charger Course.
Valspar Championship (late March): The 900-acre Innisbrook Golf Resort near Tampa in Palm Harbor, Fla., has plenty of rooms (many of them currently being renovated) and lots of golf options. While the tournament is played on the famed Copperhead Course, there are three other courses at the resort, including the recently renovated South Course.
Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship (late March): The nearby Westin Puntacana Resort & Club has 200 rooms, and while it's not right next to Corales Golf Club, it is a very short shuttle ride. There's also another golf course on property, and it's a good one, the Perry Dye-designed La Cana Golf Club, with 14 of its 27 holes with views of the Caribbean Sea.
Safeway Open (early October): The Napa Valley's Silverado Resort & Spa offers five different kinds of rooms and suites, and as of this writing, there were rooms available from $150 to $307 during tournament week. The resort has two golf courses, the North (where the tournament is played) and the South, both redesigned by Johnny Miller.
Mayakoba Golf Classic (early November): With plenty of accommodations, not only is it no problem getting rooms, but the hotels at this Riviera Maya, Mexico, location offer packages for around $2,500 for a family of four. Packages include tickets to the tournament, rooms, gifts and other privileges. The primary hotel is the Fairmont Mayakoba. Additional properties right next to the tournament course, El Camaleon Golf Club, include Andaz Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba and Rosewood Mayakoba. There are no additional golf courses onsite but many others around Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
The RSM Classic (mid-November): Luxurious rooms are available for both The Cloister (starting at $459) and The Inn at Sea Island (starting at $199) for this year's tournament at Sea Island Resort on the coast of Georgia. Hosted by Davis Love III, the tournament is played on the Seaside Course (redesigned by Tom Fazio) and Plantation Course (redesigned by Love III and his brother Mark, and set to reopen this fall) at the Sea Island Golf Club, but there is one other course available for guests, the player-friendly Retreat Course, also designed by the Love brothers.
Farmers Insurance Open (late January): Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines has nearly 400 rooms and there is availability for the 2020 tournament ($500 per night). Both the South and North are used for the tournament.
The Honda Classic (late February, early March): With five golf courses and hundreds of rooms, PGA National Resort & Spa is one of the most accommodating tournament sites for visitors who want to see a PGA Tour event. Packages start out around $450 a night and include plenty of extras. The tournament is played on the ever-evolving Champion Course, but rounds are available on the other four courses, including the more forgiving Palmer and Fazio courses, both of which have been renovated in recent years.
The PLAYERS Championship (mid March): The Sawgrass Marriott is always full during tournament week and generally not available to the public, but there is a Hilton Garden Inn, which also fills up fast, right across the street from the Sawgrass Marriott. The tournament, of course, is played on the TPC Sawgrass PLAYERS Stadium Course. The other course at the TPC Sawgrass, Dye's Valley Course, is generally not available for resort play during tournament week.