The Live Fest was just as lively as it was two years ago.
Even livelier for PGA Tour player Brandt Snedeker.
The Nashville native knows quite a few in the country music world, including Saturday night’s headliner Thomas Rhett. So Snedeker went to chat with Rhett before the concert.
He didn’t know what gift Rhett was going to give him.
“I got to know Thomas a little because I’m a Nashville guy,” Snedeker said on Sunday. “I met before the show just to say hello to him. He kind of spurred me on to get on stage and sing ‘Friends in Low Places’ with him. I denied it vehemently said that I didn’t mean to do it, that I can’t sing, it’s gonna be horrible.
“He prevailed. I waited an hour and a half nervously to be called on stage and somehow I was able to fake myself. But it was something cool, something I will always remember. It was super nice of him, to do it.”
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Snedeker will never forget it, but he will remember it too when it comes to Rhett.
“I’ll try to turn the tables at some point in my career and get him out on the golf course to make him feel like me,” said Snedeker with a laugh.
Snedeker said he has not yet heard any criticism from his colleagues.
“I think they thought I was fine because they knew I was awful at it,” he said.
“If he ever does decide to play golf, I think he has had a great career as a singer and actor,” said Charles Howell III.
A year break due to the coronavirus pandemic had little impact on the concert.
Darius Rucker and Lady A headlined the 2019 opening show with more than 8,000 people on the driving range of the Tiburón Golf Club. The organizers targeted 9,000 this year, with Rhett and Swindell as the main acts, and hit that number.
“It was another magical night in Naples,” said tournament director Rob Hartman. “The energy, the atmosphere last night was just amazing – a sold out show, over 9,000 people. It was an incredible night. “
The local Ben Allen Band, whose singer of the same name appeared in the meantime between the live festivities on NBC’s “The Voice”, reopened the show shortly after 5 pm. The female trio Runaway June performed as a duo with Natalie Stovall and Jennifer Wayne, who take turns replacing singer Naomi Cooke, who posted on her social media that she is out for medical reasons.
The anticipation only grew over time for the last two acts, Swindell and Rhett, with event creator Steve Hagenbuckle thanking him for another successful show.
“He did a great job last night,” said Hartman. “This is his baby and his vision. It is very rewarding for him to be on stage and see his creations come true and it is for all of us.”
The gates opened at 3:30 p.m., but the stream of cowboy hats and boots – not your typical golf attire – began cruising near the Tiburon putting green around 3:00 p.m., many with lounge chairs.
“We knew what to expect this year, but we still felt like they weren’t going to stop,” said Hartman. “The traffic flows. We open our gates at 3:30 p.m., i.e. 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., there was a constant flow of people.
“One of the coolest things for us is that we had an enormous number of our golf fans that stayed for the concert. We also had thousands upon thousands of people who came before the concert and were then exposed to golf. The merging of music and golf everything comes together. “
Hartman said more than half of the Tour Pros’ 24-player field attended the show, with one particular highlight being where Snedeker was called up.
“It was amazing,” said Hartman.
Hartman credited all artists, but Swindell and Rhett in particular. Swindell played both days of the Pro-Am and also performed at the Pro-Am gala on Thursday evening.
“I can’t say enough good things about Cole Swindell and Thomas Rhett,” he said.
Hartman and Team Wasserman, the tournament and event management, pulled out all the stops to pull off the concert.
“It takes an army to host an event of this magnitude and the effort that the Wasserman team has gone through … we fire with all cylinders,” he said.
Hartman said improvements aimed at gaining general admission, such as an increase in concession booths and toilets and a video board, are hits. He said concession sales were 30% higher than in 2019. A center aisle has also been added for the acts coming out in front of the stage.
“We had the environment we wanted, around the stage, a full pit, a lot of energy,” said Hartman. “The deeds feed on it.”
Hartman said he doesn’t expect to increase capacity for next year.
“I think we’ve found our sweet spot,” he said. “We have a great model. We will continue to optimize this model because you learn more every year. We will continue to improve the experience and invest in the right areas. “
Hartman was also glad that the property was cleared less than an hour after Rhett finished around 10 p.m.
And after a few deep breaths, work towards 2022 will begin.
“Five hours of music are planned all year round,” he said.
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at [email protected] Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/