I took a few days of R&R last week, but found time to do a little work, too.
While in Las Vegas, I hung around with some of Kitsap’s rodeo contingent and took in some of the behind-the-scene stuff that goes on at the National Finals Rodeo. I was pretty easy to spot. Everybody was in Wranglers and boots, and I was geeking around in my sneakers and shorts, but the cowboy crowd still made me feel welcome.
The awards banquet was a highlight. The Kitsap Stampede lost out in its bid for Rodeo of the Year in the medium category, but came away with the very prestigious Remuda Award for its commitment to having the best stock contractors and rough stock in the business. It’s a special award that’s only been won in the past by the big-dollar rodeos at Houston and San Antonio.
I took in the first round at the NFR. I’ve been there before, but it was better than I remembered. These guys know how to throw a rodeo. From the grand entrance to the last bull ride, it’s non-stop action. Good stuff. And Randy Corley, the voice of the Stampede, made me feel right at home … just like he always does.
I also took in the stock auction show that took place one morning. The South Point Hotel and Casino, new headquarters for the rodeo, has an arena on site and getting an up-close look at this part of the industry was pretty cool. I also had a brief conversation with the new CEO of the PRCA, Karl Stressman, at a hospitality suite one night. At the time, I didn’t know he was the Big Hoss, but I’m sure he’ll thank me later for all of my sage advice on how the rodeo can do a better job of marketing itself. Stressman’s the man responsible for putting Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brett Favre in Wrangler jeans.
After three days of cowboying-up, my buddy J.C. and I drove to Palm Springs, Calif., and took in three days of the PGA Tour’s Qualifying Tournament, better known as Q-school. We grinded along with Troy Kelly for his final three days, watching him earn his Tour Card. Kelly was born in Tacoma, but raised in Silverdale. He now lives in La Quinta, Calif., where the Q-school tourney was held, but we still claim him as one of our own. His proud dad, Bob Kelly, is a popular teaching pro in the area.
The tension in the gallery on Monday’s last round was noticeable to everybody, I think, but Troy. He hit a couple bad shots — but who doesn’t? — but never came close to imploding. His rounds of 66-68-70-70-69-69 speak volumes, especially considering the courses he played on.
In case you missed it, here’s my story that appeared in Tuesday’s editions. One thing I neglected to mention is that Troy won $25,000 by securing his card. Now, he’s got an opportunity to win a lot more. I’ve been told Troy’s first tournament will be the Sony Open in Hawaii. The tournament runs Jan. 12-18 at the Waialae Country Club. The next tour stop is the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Jan. 19-25, at PGA West, Bermuda Dunes. I’d think Troy would also have a good chance to get into that event.
Seven days of rodeo and golf and few things (OK, a lot of things) in between. I think I’m ready for another vacation.