Updated: July 23, 2014 at 8:23 pm
Imagine trying to play one of life's most difficult games while under the microscope of dozens of people.
Most holes throughout Patty Jewett Golf Course don't present such a problem, however, one in particular remains an exception. Just before the midway point where its golfers hook around to play the back nine, Patty Jewett introduces the challenge of having to perform in front of the ninth green crowd - the group on hand at one of the more difficult putting platforms on the course.
The beginning of match play of the Abba Eye Care Pikes Peak Amateur tournament brought a group of spectators that grew as large as 50 on Wednesday. The single set of bleachers approximately 20 feet long filled before lawn chairs and even golf carts began popping up as extra seating.
"That hole, coming up on that green, yeah it's nerve-racking," Bob Yoswa said as he headed toward the tournament's second nine known as the Prairie. "It's really the only one out here on the course like that. And it's definitely hard to concentrate with 40-plus people watching your every move."
Because a large portion of the ninth green crowd is made up of golfers who have finished their rounds, it begins to grow exponentially as the day goes on. On Wednesday morning, the senior flights were first to tee off before the course locals and championship classifications.
Among them was Laddie Gustin, who was edged by James Thornton in the senior fourth flight on the 18th hole.
"Coming back out to watch is pretty much the thing to do when you play here, whether it's supporting the other guys or putting in your two cents," Gustin said with a laugh. "People can say what they want but I can tell you it's a lot harder when you're on the other end."
The tournament had stroke play Monday and Tuesday and elimination begins Thursday. The victors of the bracket-style setup advance to play another winner within their flights. Defeated golfers were moved into consolation rounds, giving all participants another meeting with the ninth green crowd, which is expected to gain in size until the tournament concludes Saturday.
Also returning will be fan Taylor Cook, who arrived at the ninth green at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, providing her with five hours of spectating before her shift at the driving range started.
"I like watching golf and I also enjoy seeing the outfits they wear. Some of them make some fashion statements," Cook said.
"When there are people you know that are playing, it's fun to come show support. Sometimes they'll even stop to talk with you for a little while if you're lucky."