It was 8 a.m. Monday at the Ocean Course, and Tiger Woods' shirt was already soaked through with sweat, from his collar to his waistline.
"Yeah, he's not used to golfing in the summer in the Lowcountry," quipped one of the spectators who had gathered to watch Woods test out the putting green on the 16th hole. For the audience, as for the athletes, Kiawah Island's top-notch golf course is at once a thing of beauty and a challenge. While the professionals navigate ocean winds and bedeviling sand hazards, the onlookers will face their own dilemma: How to stay cool and hydrated.
For starters, you can bring your own bottle of unopened water — that means factory-sealed bottles, no reusable Nalgene bottles. Since Aquafina is sponsoring the tournament, staff members will make you peel the label off your bottle if it's another brand. The PGA prohibits coolers on the course, so unfortunately water from home is only going to last you so long. You might want to consider freezing a bottle the night before to keep it cool.
Once you're inside, there are plenty of chances to buy more water and Gatorade, from the refreshment tents near the entrance to the Beverage Oasis stands all along the course. If you paid the extra money for admission to the Wanamaker Club, you're in luck: The big white tent between the Front Nine and the Back Nine has the air conditioning cranked to 11. If you didn't pay for Wanamaker privileges, another good cool-down spot is the nearby golf shop, where you'll be as blown away by the rush of cool air as by the vast assortment of golf caps and shirts.
Getting from the parking lot to the course is fairly painless, as Maryland-based transportation company The Convention Store has a fleet of buses ready to shuttle people back and forth. They've worked more than a few PGA events before.
Bear in mind, though, that the bus ride can take as long as 30 minutes, and then there's the matter of showing your ticket and getting your bags searched for weapons. If you're planning to catch a 7:20 a.m. tee time, plan accordingly.
Also, make sure you take note of your parking lot section number before catching the bus so you know where to get off when you return. As one transportation employee warned Monday morning at the No. 3 stop, "Don't get off at No. 2, 'cause then you gotta walk all the hell the way down here."
Yes, you can bring your cell phone, but no, you can't shoot photos or videos with it during the Championship. The staff is allowing photography during the practice rounds (Aug. 6-8), although they're telling people to wait to snap photos until after a player swings.
And we're sure you're considerate enough to know this, but just as a reminder: Keep that phone on vibrate or silent. You don't want to feel the wrath of the PGA.
You can't bring outside food past the gates, so you're going to want to refuel during the day. A good hot-day option at the Wanamaker Club is an order of three shrimp tacos ($10), drizzled in a light, refreshing cilantro cream sauce. The pulled-pork barbeque sandwich ($8) is less impressive, prepared in a faintly peppery North Carolina style (sorry, S.C. purists) and fairly dry for lack of sauce. There are also several booths along the course selling burgers, hot dogs, and deli sandwiches.
Beer is available on the course (Landshark and Michelob Ultra go for $6), but if you're going all-in on the golf drinks, the bars are pushing the Wanamaker Tee Time ($9-$10, depending on location), a drink with tea, lemonade, and Ketel One lemon-lime vodka. It's light on the vodka and served from a chilled water-cooler jug.
One last note, and this is probably a no-brainer if you've been to a golf tournament before: Wear your walking shoes. Not only will you be schlepping from hole to hole, but the narrow walkways are mostly made of sand and gravel, with a few muddy spots. If a storm comes, things could get slippery in a hurry.