SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — For five golfers, four of them champions of majors, home during the United States Open has been a makeshift camp of recreational vehicles. It sits on the grounds of a Montessori school, replete with a white picket fence, and abuts Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
A garden gnome, wearing the white coveralls of a Masters caddie, greeted me on the campgrounds when I visited Friday. The gnome wasn’t a lucky charm for its owner, Bubba Watson, who missed the cut along with his next-door neighbor at Camp Shinnecock, Jason Day, the 2015 P.G.A. champion.
Then again, even the poshest surroundings couldn’t ease Tiger Woods over the cut line. As Woods shot 10 over par in the first two rounds, he was staying aboard his 155-foot yacht, the Privacy, in Sag Harbor, about 15 miles northeast of Shinnecock Hills. The Privacy, which was Woods’s honeymoon gift to his now ex-wife, was not the grandest boat in sight, and off its bow was a yacht with a name that sounded like a taunt: the Indiscretion.
“It’s been nice to kind of get away from the tournament scene and go to my dinghy there and enjoy it,” Woods said before the tournament.
The peripatetic lifestyle of professional golfers, who spend 20 to 30 weeks a year on the road, places a premium on comfort, convenience and, in some cases, community. The convenience element was amplified during this U.S. Open, where finding the right spot to stay required as much creative thinking as landing an approach shot on Shinnecock’s devilish greens. The margin of error was small in this gridlocked summer playground.
“When you hear the commute for some people is taking two and a half hours in traffic, it’s very advantageous to be where we are,” said Jimmy Walker, the 2016 P.G.A. champion and a longtime R.V. owner. Joining him over the last week at the campsite were two other coach regulars, Day and the 2010 British Open champion, Louis Oosthuizen; Watson, a first-year owner and a two-time Masters champion; and Charley Hoffman, who was taking his first spin in the R.V. life. It seemed to agree with him: Hoffman entered the weekend tied for second place, and he was four strokes off the lead heading into Sunday’s final round.
“It’s always been intriguing for us,” Hoffman’s wife, Stacy, said. “With the logistics and traffic and everything, it’s been an ideal week to try it out.”
The Hoffmans were the only renters at the campsite, but they are considering buying an R.V. They have priced one model at about $2 million. (Woods’s yacht reportedly cost $20 million when he bought it 14 years ago.)
If a quiet spot to decompress was what Woods sought for the Open week, he docked in the right place. Sag Harbor’s residents include the singer Billy Joel and the former Met Keith Hernandez. Each of them can go anywhere in town and be assured of waiting in line like everyone else for a $5 latte or a $30 piece of fish.
During Woods’s stay, foot traffic along the marina increased as fans came in hope of seeing him up close or to take photographs of the Privacy, which was about 100 yards offshore, its dock behind a locked gate.
If Woods had wanted to hide in plain sight, he could have stopped in at the American Hotel on Main Street, where public figures apparently can give their security detail a break — as New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, discovered last year when he was left alone to enjoy a leisurely dinner on the porch.
Woods invited his caddie, Joe LaCava, to stay with him on the yacht during the tournament. With five bedrooms, it offered plenty of room for them to carve out their own space after long days together on the course, but LaCava had made other plans.
Woods’s hospitality extended only so far. I asked for a tour of the yacht, with its gym and hot tub, and got the answer I expected. As one of Woods’s representatives said, after laughing at the request, there’s a reason it was named Privacy.
Woods’s drive to the course took roughly 30 minutes. The residents of Camp Shinnecock could hop in their courtesy cars and reach the players’ parking lot in 30 seconds. Their R.V.s were so close to the course, Hoffman walked one day.
All five players at the camp hired drivers to convey their R.V.s to Southampton and set them up. The location was pretty desolate at night, but that didn’t stop Walker from ordering a pizza delivery.
Here are a few obstacles that will test the nerves and skill of golfers at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.
He gave the school’s address, and the pie arrived at his door piping hot.
Walker and his wife, Erin, and their two sons typically stay in their R.V. for roughly a dozen tournaments each season. It offers them the convenience of a location close to the course plus all the comforts of home: a master suite with a king-size bed, bunk beds for the boys, a washer and dryer and a standard-size refrigerator.
On Friday morning, rain was an unexpected guest, keeping the Hoffmans’ daughters, Claire, 7, and Katelyn, 4, cooped up in the coach, where their father was trying to rest for an afternoon tee time. He stretched out on a banquette that doubles as a pullout bed and watched early coverage of the second round on a flat-screen television that dropped from the ceiling between the two front seats.
His younger daughter had just discovered another luxury. Katelyn sat up front, working the controls of the passenger seat’s massage function and gazing out the rain-streaked windshield. She conjured a name for the R.V.: Princess.
Claire played with a doll on one of the bunk beds stacked in a space that could be closed off by double pocket doors. When she grew too boisterous, Hoffman playfully slid the doors shut.
He opened them a few seconds later, and Claire hopped down, scampered to the front of the coach, peered out the windshield and shouted, “It stopped raining!”
Stacy Hoffman immediately noted another advantage to R.V. living: no common walls with other guests.
“There’s no security to come in response to the noise,” she said, laughing.
All the R.V. lodgers had children, but the little ones weren’t the only campers going door to door in search of playmates.
Day told a story from the Masters about how Watson, when bored, wasn’t shy about dropping in on his neighbors to see what they were doing.
“He’s eating a burrito and he decides to come in and talk to me for about 30 minutes,” Day said. “He gets his burrito all over the ground and then just leaves.”
Day smiled. “Actually,” he said, it’s nice to have people like that around, you know, to mess your bus up when you need them to.”
Camp Shinnecock is a fraternity within the tour family, a traveling support group where players can go about their business away from the circus they headline. The campers may not have had fans taking selfies in front of their coaches or stopping to gawk at their luxury lodging, but even here, the outside world occasionally encroached.
One night before the tournament began, Day was carrying a bag of trash to a Dumpster when he was spotted by a U.S Open vendor, who corralled him into posing for a photograph. Day said he didn’t mind. If the worst delay he faced at Shinnecock Hills was stopping for a photograph on his way to disposing of his garbage, life was good.
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