Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 2, 2014

Duck Dynasty stars draw crowds to Greenbrier Classic Pro-Am

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Could The Greenbrier add another celebrity to its growing list of residents?

If first impressions matter, Jase Robertson may soon join the likes of Bubba Watson, Jerry West, John Smoltz and Denny Hamlin in building a home among the West Virginia hills.

“I’m taking this all in,” said the star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, while waiting on the first tee of the Old White TPC prior to playing in Wednesday’s Greenbrier Classic Pro-Am. “It’s pretty amazing. I’ve been here 5 minutes, and I could live here. I love it.”

Robertson joined the Pro-Am field, which also included Hamlin and George Lopez, thanks to some urging from Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, who played in the group with Robertson, and a friendship with Greenbrier resident and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.

Robertson said he first met Watson on Twitter, and the world’s third-ranked golfer soon came to visit the Robertson family in Louisiana.

Robertson, who was coming back from a trip on the day Watson arrived, got off a plane and drove to the Duck Commander warehouse, where the family made its fortune by producing duck calls, and found the golfer organizing a “Harlem Shake” video with the company’s employees.

“I guess he felt right at home,” said Robertson with a laugh. “He stayed a couple of days and we had lots of fun. We got to be good friends.

“He’s got a house here now, so he asked us to come up and hang out. I did an event in West Virginia last year, and I loved the people. So any opportunity we get to come be with the people, we’re going to do it — especially with this scenery and this weather. People say it’s hot. This is almost cold where I come from. It’s awesome.”

Joining Watson, Justice and Robertson for a trip around the Old White TPC Wednesday was Justin Martin, another of the reality show’s recurring cast, an employee of Duck Commander who is often teased for his size. He replaced the company’s CEO, Willie Robertson, who had to back out because of an injury.

“Willie tried to pour boiling water in a glass pitcher,” said Jase, explaining the absence of his brother, who has guaranteed he’ll make the trip next year. “He said, ’As soon as the water hit the pitcher, I thought I shouldn’t be doing this. Then it went boom.’ It was actually pretty severe.

“We cooked him supper to try to make him feel better. It was terrible. He was burnt severely. He has to go to the doctor every day and scrape wounds. It was pretty tough.”

Jase took the course with a new camouflage driver that somebody had sent to Willie, and he played what Justice said was “surprisingly good” golf.

“Jase hit bombs,” said Justice, who said Jase has already promised that Willie will never see the driver again. “He hits monster drives. I hit one past him, and it was just 2-feet past him.”

Members of the West Virginia State Police and the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department followed the featured group around the course, but what pleased Justice most was that there was no need for their presence.

“There wasn’t any need for security,” he said. “Every single person out there just loved them being here. It was just a neat day.”

After the round, the Duck Dynasty stars planned to go to Watson’s new Greenbrier Sporting Club home to eat dinner and “give him some help with his duck call.”

“It was great fun,” said Justice of the experience. “Jase was super, Martin was really great and Bubba was just like Bubba always is — jovial and fun. What a great group to be with, and the fans were in droves all day long.”

Justice said the stars will be back this spring to do a little turkey hunting in the West Virginia wilderness.

 • • •

The other celebrities on the course Wednesday, aside from the golfers, were many of the coaches from the area’s most popular universities.

Representing West Virginia University were basketball legend Rod Hundley — who played some of the round before dropping out — assistant basketball coach Ron Everhart, sporting a camouflage WVU hat that fit right in with the Duck Dynasty theme, and football defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who enjoyed the interaction with the many Mountaineer fans who lined the fairway during the coaches’ round with PGA Tour pro Roberto Castro.

“I think the West Virginia fans are the greatest fans in the country,” said Gibson, a Van native who has also been an assistant at Michigan, Pitt and Arizona. “To be able to get out and see them in this type of setting and spend a little time with them is great. The people down here have been very hospitable.

“There are a lot of Flying WVs out there. I’m seeing it everywhere. There have been a lot of fans, and it’s been good for us to get down and see some of them in this part of the state. “

Marshall football coach Doc Holliday, basketball coach Danny D’Antoni and legendary football coach Bob Pruett played in a group with former Division II national champion golfer Scott Brown, and Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer and basketball coach Buzz Williams and Lewisburg physical therapist Kevin Workman played with Cameron Tringale. Those rounds were cut short, though, by a heavy rain that began just before 5 p.m.

• • •

Today will mark the first day of tournament rounds at The Greenbrier Classic, with the gates opening at 7 a.m. Among the most popular groupings will be the 7:50 a.m. tee time of Patrick Reed, Bill Haas and Steve Stricker, who will go off the 10th tee. FedEx Cup points leader Jimmy Walker, 2011 Greenbrier Classic champion Scott Stallings and 2013 champion Jonas Blixt will go off the 10th tee at 8 a.m.

Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Tom Watson will be in another featured grouping at 1 p.m., just after Bubba Watson tees off with Brendon Todd and J.B. Holmes at 12:50. At 1:10, 2012 champion Ted Potter Jr. will go off the first tee with Kyle Stanley and Bryce Molder.

— chuffman@register-herald.com  and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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