Media Event - My Mercedes-Benz VIP Experience at the PGA Championship

I’m going to tell you all about my VIP experience at the PGA Championship with Mercedes-Benz, but first I need to give you the background about why this event was such a special one to me. It’s a lengthy one, but I promise it will all come back to what you actually clicked on this post to read about.


As a child, walking around my house from room to room, any and all televisions (with the exception of any my brother and I were watching) would have some type of sports related entertainment playing. My dad has always enjoyed having it on, even if just for background noise. He was in the marching band for the Florida State Seminoles in college and played on a men’s competitive softball team. He had a set of golf clubs and his own bowling bag. If he wasn’t playing sports or his drums, he was likely enjoying watching a game or listening to the latest discussion panel on ESPN. When I came of age to try and find my own hobby/talent, looking back I realize that I found myself choosing things that were comfortable to me because of what my dad enjoyed and was good at. He has always been an idol to me, no wonder. Now obviously my dad didn’t dabble in cheerleading, but that’s where it all started for me, in 4th grade. Basically all of the girls in the elementary class do it, so why not? That lasted all of one season before I had a routine physical that led to the discovery of a congenital heart condition that had to be surgically repaired. After my surgery and my health getting back to a better state, I tried softball in middle school. While I enjoyed it, I can’t say I didn’t look awkward as hell playing it. This one time, I got hit on the top of my helmet (really hard) with a pitch in front of everyone at a tournament. Thank goodness I had the smarts to put my face down when I saw it coming, or that would have been pretty ugly. Ok, worse than it already was. Trying to catch a practice fly ball in outfield? Fat lip. So, cheerleading and softball are out. I decided to switch gears and try the snare drum in band. That had to be safer, right? I’m not sure why, but I don’t remember doing much with that. I probably figured out just because my dad was an incredibly talented drummer, it didn’t mean I was. If I couldn’t play the drums, maybe I could sing? Chorus was next on my list. At that time, I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket if I tried, but I grew up with so much love for music in my family, I wanted to at least try. I did stay in chorus for all of middle school learning how to harmonize, and even made it to advanced chorus! I was so excited to continue once I started high school, but again after one class became extremely intimidated by the amount of talent around me. Can you guess what happened when I found out we would have to sing solo parts during practice? I was out of there faster than a speeding bullet. So now band and chorus are scratched off my list, because I just felt like I would never be good enough. Should I try sports again? What about soccer? That sounds fun! Well, it wasn’t. The amount of running involved in practice was something I could not physically keep up with. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with my heart or if I just sucked at running, but besides that there was a bully on the varsity team that made practices terrible to be a part of. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I quit that too. Maybe I could try cheerleading again? I gave it my all, but didn’t make the cut. I just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere, and that ended up leading to some unfortunate choices those years of high school and college. Thankfully I was able to turn around from those choices before it was too late.
There are times I had wished I would have discovered my true passions and talents earlier instead of wasting time trying to do things that weren’t meant for me. Where would I be now if I had? What if I would have tried photography in school? What if I would have tried to be on the Yearbook team? What if I would have known then how much I loved creating and writing? What if instead of worrying about what others around me were doing, I did my own thing?
“Just because they are succeeding before you, does not mean they are succeeding in replacement of you. There will still be a place for you. There will always be a place for you. – Morgan Harper Nichols
So yes, there are so many what ifs in life. The thing is, I can’t beat myself up for trying. I found a long list of things I’m not good at, and that’s okay. It may have taken me much more time than the average person, but in my thirties I have been learning what I’m actually really good at and what I really enjoy doing with this life I’ve been gifted. I’m going to change my thought process here, and if you’re going though something similar I encourage you to do the same. What if one of those things I tried DID work out? What if I ended up being some type of athlete or a musician? Would I be where I am today? Would I want to be somewhere other than where I am today? My answer is no. Why?
Enter my current hustle for my creative/writing passion and directly because of it, the opportunity for the Mercedes-Benz PGA Championship experience. Despite this extensive yet pitiful background of sports I had developed, I have never actually been a spectator of a professional level tournament or championship game. Sure, I’ve been to a couple of hockey games here and there, local baseball games, some college football games, even one NFL game, but never an award or trophy winning game. Sort of sounds like a metaphor of my past, right? Well, I am no longer in the past. My time had finally come for a great opportunity that was given to me by a friend who I connected with originally through my photography. I documented he and his now wife’s engagement and wedding. I recently reconnected with them to document their maternity session, and it was then during conversation about my blogging that I learned he was the VP of a sports and entertainment PR firm and works with Mercedes-Benz (who is a sponsor of the PGA Championship) that just so happened to be in Charlotte this year. He explained that he could give me a media ticket to enjoy the championship day and share it on my platform if I was interested. Little did I know when I said yes, I would also be sharing the same space and having a photo taken with Ron Rivera, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
I know he says he is proud of me everyday and has never once expected anything of me but to be happy, but this was the sports break to make my dad proud that I had been searching for my entire life. I just didn’t understand at the time that I would be the one documenting, instead of the one playing.
After reading the media itinerary, I knew this was something I was never going to forget. With an all expenses covered brunch at one of Charlotte’s finest rooftop restaurants and bars, to transportation to the event in a 2017 Mercedes Cabriolet, to VIP access to the Partner Village where we would be spoiled with a beautifully designed air-conditioned chalet with complimentary food and open bar. We were able to watch from the flat screens in the lounge or outside the chalet in stadium style seating looking down at the course. I couldn’t wait!
THE BRUNCH 
Our media brunch at Fahrenheit started at 10am. I arrived and walked in the 21st floor event room with a view to see a beautiful table set up with flowers and individualized seats. We were provided with itinerary packets, PGA tickets, quality branded MB ball caps as well as a sleek black travel umbrella in case of rain. Most thoughtful, a gift card for transportation so if we wanted to imbibe and relax, we would not have to worry about a safe trip home. There was a custom omelet station, charcuterie board, fruit stand, and cinnamon rolls. Duck fat cinnamon rolls. Yes, seriously. There was also a beautiful bloody mary bar, and the mixologist Bret made me an amazing one. We sat around the table chatting about Taylor Strategy (the sports and entertainment PR firm in partnership with MB who made this possible) , the history of PGA, and what we could expect if we had never done this before (hey, that’s me!)

Two of my favorite dishes at this brunch at Fahrenheit were the:
  • Avocado Toast  multi-grain bread + fried egg + cherry tomatoes + champagne goat cheese + sweet soy glaze + spring greens

  • Fried Chicken Benedict  cheddar biscuit + shoyu creme + pineapple papaya marmalade
We enjoyed the great food and company before heading outside to grab a quick skyline shot and check out the transport rides before leaving.

THE TRANSPORTATION

The luxury ride of the C-Class Cabriolet (C43) was magical.It was so smooth, comfortable and stylish. I loved the matte black rims and shiny red coat with matching seat belts. There is nothing quite like the wind in your hair on a summer drive.
THE CHALET LOUNGE 
We arrived to the championship and made our way to the MB Chalet lounge. It was hard to believe it was just a tent! These photos below are screen shots from my Instagram stories, but you get the idea. It was branded and designed well, with modern touches and amazing photography prints of golfer & MB Brand ambassador Rickie Fowler all over the walls. Just outside the doors to the Chalet was the stadium seating for watching. It was so hot outside though, so it was nice to not have to miss anything when cooling off inside and be able to watch the tournament on the televisions.
Now, because we all know I’m a food lover, I will be sure to tell you how incredible the buffet was! There was a delicious cold pasta salad filled with artichoke hearts and tons of great flavor. Mac and cheese, pulled pork sliders, roast beef & mashed potatoes and gravy…it was all so good! They switched it out later in the day, but I never made it back to the buffet to see what it was. I did see someone had pimento cheese sandwiches and dim sum on their plate though, so I hate I missed it! There was even a custom ice cream station!
As far as the open bar went, I tried a muddled raspberry lemonade cocktail that was so refreshing! I loved the little bits of the fruit in the drink! As I mentioned earlier, I did get to meet Ron Rivera, the head coach of the Panthers. After walking around the course for a bit and heading back to the Chalet, we saw a group of people huddled around the front taking photos with him. We went back inside not wanting to bother him, but ended up getting to say hello inside and had our photo taken after which was nice!

THE CHAMPIONSHIP
So, here I was. At the PGA Championship. Me. I was important enough to be experiencing something so special in the sports world. I was important enough to document this experience to share with my audience. It was so neat being able to watch these talented golfers in person, and no matter how crowded and busy it was, you could practically hear a pin drop there was so much respect for the players’ focus. It was relaxing, fun, and such a pleasure to attend!

                              

I thoroughly enjoyed my first golf tournament and am so thrilled and thankful that my first was one of such significance.  Thank you to Taylor Strategy for selecting me, thank you to Mercedes-Benz for the hospitality, and congratulations to Justin Thomas for bringing home the Wanamaker Trophy this year!
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