5:30 a.m., Feb. 22
Follow the leader: at Torrey Pines
Used to be, back in the era of steel shafts and balatta balls, you could follow the leader on Sunday for most of the round. That was back when golf tournaments had famous people's names - Andy Williams San Diego Open, Bob Hope Desert Classic - the pros tee'd off with persimmon woods, and a 260 yard drive was a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
Then along came Tiger. And corporations. And hordes of colorfully-clad fans. And you couldn't park at Glider Point and had to shuttle from UTC or Del Mar - and became part of a herd.
On the weekend, Torrey Pines South has become so clogged that most spectators sit in the stands or at a vantage point - like behind #13 green, where they can see putts on 11, tee shots on 14, and approaches and putts on 13. The spot also has refreshments and an ever-ticking scoreboard nearby.
But what if you want to see Tiger, up close, or hear the eardrum-splitting sound of a Dustin Johnson drive? Or follow the last group, hole by hole, on Sunday?
These days, you'll have to scoot. And pick your spots, because if you simply follow the crowd you'll see the backs of peoples' heads or get a stiff neck, by the turn, from having to crane it.
Stay ahead of the crowd. On each hole, pick a specific shot you want to see. On #1, say, forget the drives and the 20-person-deep throng around them. Go out to the landing area, at or near the bunker on the left, and wait. You'll have a front row look at the second shots.
Then move, after everyone has hit, not to the green, but the next tee. Wait, just behind that low rope, and be rewarded.
Then go straight to the green.
Refining the principle: fairways have popular and unpopular sides. Figure out which and take the latter. Same with greens. They thicken on the "popular" side. Swing around to the other.
Tread where angels fear. Torrey South is shaped like a two-tier green. Most holes are on an upper mesa. But those to the west: three, four, five, 11, 12, and 13 drop to a lower plateau. Mose people following the leaders won't venture down the slopes.
On Sunday, from #14 in, good luck. Once the last group finishes a hole, a mass exodus ensues, either with the leaders, or to a corporate tent with a TV. Best to choose a vantage point - 18 fairway, for example - and watch the tournament come through.
If you leapfrog in this manner, you will not only enjoy unimpeded views of the leaders, you will log your daily 10,000 steps twice over.