by George McNeilly
PALM HARBOR, Florida – A basic grounds admission purchase is your ticket to a day filled with activities at Tampa Bay’s PGA TOUR event. And if you are willing to pay a little extra, there’s even more to experience.
New in 2023 is The Rooftop, presented by Dex Imaging. It’s a premium ticketed viewing allowing fans to upgrade to first class.
As the name would indicate, it’s a platform built atop the sponsor chalets overlooking the 18th hole for just as good a view as VIPs and the NBC booth announcers get.
It was at that prime location where I met area resident Bob McLaughlin, joined by his son, Garrett, for the opening round action of the 2023 Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course.
“My son was coming into town from Philadelphia so we could see some Phillies spring training games, and he’s expressed some interest in golf, so I thought it would be a nice experience and as it turned out, it’s a great location to watch the players and the venue here is fantastic,” said McLaughin of Dunedin, FL.
Much like the Hooters Owls Nest and The Snake Pit presented by Kettle One, the upgraded guest experience is difficult to beat.
“From what Garrett has enjoyed today, he told me, he’d better start playing golf,” added McLaughlin, who said they even got to meet 3-time Major winner and World Golf Hall of Famer Nick Price up on the roof.
Just a basic ground ticket offers much to see and do and provides a similar gateway to aspiring amateurs.
Kids and their parents can enjoy the Florida Blue Family Fun Zone located between the 8th green and 9th fairway. This interactive area features games, including a putting course.
Chick-fil-A is set up overlooking the driving range where folks can putt for gift cards while getting an up-close view of a stellar field of players warming up before heading for the first tee in each of the remaining days.
There’s also the Publix Chillounge between the 8th green and 9th tee box. Frenchy’s Pool Party is adjacent to the 1st tee. At the turn, you’ll find the Josh Cellars Wine Garden, Celebrity Cruises Luxury Deck, and new for 2023, the Expo Grove, filled with contests and exhibits.
As I walked the back nine, there was the Horse Solider (whiskey) Lounge near the 10th green, the Maestro Dobel Margarita Deck near the 13th green, and the Michelob Ultra Club along the 14th fairway.
Near the 18th green and The Rooftop, all fans are welcome to visit the Valspar Block Party located at the Tampa General Hospital Courtyard featuring Valspar (paints) Colors of the Year and what Executive Director Tracy West called “The Most Colorful Miniature Replica Homes.”
(George McNeilly is an award-winning multimedia broadcaster, producer and writer with a journalism background that has spanned the globe from four Olympics, 17 Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals, Major College Football, Basketball and Professional Golf. A former Senior ESPN executive, George teaches Sports Business at Full Sail University and is managing partner of McNeilly Communications.)