Mickey Bradley's nearest point of relief is about one club-length from a barbecue grill and a deep fryer. He and the Bradley brothers, and sister, again teed off on oysters, turkey, shrimp, and jambalaya on Hole 6 during the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic's Nicholas Air and C-Spire pro-ams Wednesday and Thursday, and nobody was happier than the players themselves.
Alice, Donny, Errol, George, Mickey and Manny treated pros and amateurs to southern hospitality and Coast culinary delights, including homemade hogs-head cheese, fried turkey and green onion sausage. "We look forward to this all year. Seriously!" said Mike Goodes with half a Tay's Bar-be-que rib bone hanging from his lips.
Most of the players know Bradley from his 16 years as a PGA Tour rules official, and these greats of the game hug him like they're one of five brothers. On Wednesday and Thursday each year, they get to meet the five brothers and sister. The former Hickory Hill head professional who started the Ben Hogan Tour (Now Web.Com) in 1989 and his brigade cook something for everybody.
"I gave Andy Bean some fried Spam one year," said Bradley, "and it made his day."
On Wednesday, Scott Hoch joked as he rushed to the tent where fried oysters, fish and shrimp called everyone to the tee, "I don't eat fried food," as he grabbed three or four of everything. Frankie Duggan, Anthony "Ant-nee" Previto and Joel Simpson had a hard time keeping up with all the PGA Tour Champions who grazed before, during and after they played. Dignitaries Biloxi Mayor Fo Fo Gilich, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes and Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson enjoyed one of everything.
"I don't know of anything like this on any tour," said Mickey Bradley. "This is just how we do it down here." Chubby Checker, Ben E King, Danny and the Juniors, and Elvis greeted amateurs and professionals alike as the golfers teed off on the par-5, and nobody wanted the music stopped. One caddie offered his best Ryder-Cup-Bubba-Watson impression as he enticed the crowd to raise the noise.
"This is uniquely Mississippi Gulf Coast," said MGM Resorts Regional Communications Director Mary Cracchiolo-Spain. "Mickey plays such an important role in this event. It's southern hospitality at its finest."
Bradley's charismatic smile and genuine southern charm might have written the rule book for fun, food and entertainment, at least on the tee that he commands on pro-am days.
Corey Pavin devoured Country Pleasin' sausage and dipped into his jambalaya pot of stories. "Do you remember that time on Hole 2 at Riviera?" asked the 1995 US Open winner. Gary Hallberg, Billy Andrade, Gary Hallberg, Tom Pernice, Jr, and Scott Verplank shouted grief at Willie Wood as he teed off. Bradley made sure a loud Mooooooo shook the tee as Dan Mullen started his backswing. All in fun.
Very few handshakes, mostly hugs, greeted Bradley as more and more arrived on the tee where spatulas and tongs replaced drivers and three-woods. For the rules official who has dedicated 27 years of his life to finding the nearest point of relief for the best players in the game, southern hospitality is a perfect lie. A chocked-full Tom Kite might have said it best, "Awesome as always, guys!"