Bassmaster Classic Blog

Welcome to the 2008 Bassmaster Classic blog, a blog for BASS fans interested in the 2008 Classic location: Lake Hartwell and Greenville, S.C. My name is Michael Mulone and I am the Director of Site Selection for BASS. Stay tuned as we explore the Greenville area in anticipation of the greatest event in bass fishing — the Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 22-24, 2008 on Lake Hartwell, S.C.

Dec. 20, 2007 | Greenville Eats, Part 1

For those who read my blog on Birmingham last year, you'll know that food is a big part of what I look for in a city. Not only have I found a few spots in Greenville, I have found the source.

Carl Sobocinski is the restaurateur of distinction in Greenville. Carl has a few cool restaurants in Greenville, including his namesake, Soby's, right on Main Street just across from the Westin Poinsett. I say the restaurants are cool because Carl is cool; the kind of cool guy you love to hate; good looking, nice guy, successful. I would hate him if he wasn't such a good guy.

Soby's the kind of place where you are comfortable as soon as you walk in. Hardwood floors, warm lighting, smiling faces. Turn to the right, have a drink. Turn to the left, enjoy a true Old South meal with fresh ingredients from local producers.

Carl also has "Restaurant O" within the Westin building, which is kind of like a Chicago steak house in a more cosmopolitan setting. Bring the appetite for big steaks and seafood, as well as the nice clothes your wife picked out for you, because this place is too hip for the usual attire.

And then there's the Lazy Goat, located just down Main Street (toward the bridge and you can walk from either Soby's or O). If you don't have a friend or if you want to make a new one, this could be the place to start, as the cozy atmosphere, tight seating and open kitchen keeps the options open. Prices are reasonable, lots of appetizer choices and a European infused wine list makes this a must-stop.

If you are on the go, don't forget Soby's on the Side, with its fresh baked breads and take out meals for breakfast and lunch. Simple — but like the rest — high quality.

I've been in a lot of restaurants and met a lot of "foodies" that are too big for their britches. Carl isn't one of them. He canned his Clemson architectural degree to build relationships instead of buildings. He's on every board of directors from Greenville to Augusta, including the "Monday After the Masters" Golf Tournament. Everyone I have met in town has asked me if I met Carl yet, and if I hadn't met him, I would have lied just to not miss out on the compliments of him.

Some people roll out the red carpet. Carl has woven it himself.


Oct. 24, 2007 | Out and about in Greenville, S.C.

When we look at cities to host the Bassmaster Classic, it goes beyond the fishery, convention center, arena and hotels. Here are some other venues and activities to check out in Greenville, S.C.

Caesars Head State Park
8155 Geer Highway
Cleveland, SC 29635
864-836-6115 | www.southcarolinaparks.com

Caesars Head State Park has long been a must-see in the South Carolina Upstate. A granite outcropping atop the dramatic Blue Ridge Escarpment, it offers breathtaking views year-round, especially when fall sets the hardwoods ablaze.

Children's Garden
Reedy View Drive
Greenville, SC 29601
864-467-4355 | www.greatergreenville.com/city_services

A 1.7-acre horticultural attraction featuring a unique garden that allows visitors to experience flowers using all five senses, a geology wall made of rocks and minerals from around the Upstate, a textile garden, a Hansel and Gretel cottage, and a secret garden.

City of Greenville Parks, Recreation & Zoo
423 East Park Avenue
Greenville, SC 29601
864-467-4350 | www.greatergreenville.com/city_services/parks.asp

Wildlife from around the world displayed in open-air exhibits. Open daily 10am-4:30pm. Admission. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Picnic shelters, kids playgrounds and tennis courts.

Devils Fork State Park
161 Holcombe Circle
Salem, SC 29676
864-944-2639 | www.southcarolinaparks.com

The park is popular with families, fishermen, scuba divers and boaters, who enjoy Jocassee's uncrowded setting and spectacular scenery, such as waterfalls cascading into the lake off steep, wooded slopes.

Falls Park on the Reedy
South Main Street and Camperdown Way
Greenville, SC 29601
864-467-4355 | www.fallspark.com

A tribute to the Reedy River, which nourished Greenville's beginnings in 1770, the park is now an oasis in the heart of downtown with scenic overlooks, nature trails, landscaped gardens, waterfalls, and a new pedestrian suspension bridge.

Hollywild Animal Park
2325 Hampton Road
Wellford, SC 29385
864-472-2038 | www.hollywild.com

100-acre animal park featuring hundreds of exotic animals, "Outback Safari" rides, mini steam locomotive, feeding stations, concessions and more.
Group discounts. Open daily Apr1-Labor Day, 9am-6pm.
Weekends only in March. Labor Day to Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Oct. 24, 2007 | Things I am looking forward to at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic

Charley Hartley. This Elite Series angler worked his tail off to get to the Classic via the Open Series. This is one of those feel good stories we all love to see unfold.

The legends. Attending the ESPN Outdoors Expo is like going to Cooperstown in July and Canton in August. Bill Dance. Roland Martin. Ray Scott. Hank Parker. Jimmy Houston. The list goes on and they are only a handshake away.

Food. I'll be in Greenville for most of Classic week. I fully plan on eating my way from one side of town to the other. In the coming weeks, I will head up to Greenville for site visits — and to test the waters on local bars and restaurants.

Families. Anglers are on the road for more weeks than they care to discuss. The Classic is the best way for their families to enjoy the tournament and all of the festivities. The Classic winner will take a victory lap in his boat and historically, his family will join him. I think all of the anglers' families should get a victory lap for the support they provide.

Late nights, early mornings. The days at the Classic are pretty long, with evening functions that tend to go on into the night and pre dawn trips to the morning launches out at the marina. It's always interesting to see who makes it to launch after a night on the town. As long as you're not driving, sleeping on the drive back and forth to the marina is quite permitted.

Crazy fans. You know who you are. The girls with the Gerald Swindle signs. The ladies with a boat and a fish on their heads. It takes a lot of work to wear a fish on your head. "Am I a smallmouth or largemouth bass?" "Do I wear my contacts or can I get away with keeping my glasses on?" Very important stuff here.

Oct. 3, 2007 | Making the Classic

The Elite anglers have taken their spots for the 2008 Classic, and this past weekend, three more BASS anglers qualified via the Central Open Series. There are 10 Classic spots left to fill, including six from the Federation National Championship, three from the Southern Open Series, and one from the American Bass Anglers Series.

There isn't an angler out there that hasn't said, "I want to make the Classic."

One of the best parts about working at BASS is that I work alongside so many people who "make the Classic."

Only difference is, we don't do it with a rod and reel.

We all have our everyday responsibilities, but when we plan and organize for the Classic, there is a little more excitement, a heightened urgency, and a keen awareness of the scope of the event. Imagine your company holiday party, your shareholders meeting and family and friends reunion are bundled into one week. And it's on TV, with some pyrotechnics to close the show.

The 9th floor at 200 Celebration Place is gearing up for the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing," and every BASS department plays an integral role in the Classic's success. I'm looking forward to the opening of the ESPN Outdoors Expo, when Eric Lopez, our Director of Operations, gives the cue to open the doors to the Carolina First Center. It gets our blood pumping to see our fans lined up to experience the sights and sounds (and if you prefer a stink bait, smells, too) of the Expo.

We are going to create, write, photograph, build, draw, call, sell, buy, videotape, and about a 1,000 other things in order to "make the Classic."

There are a few more anglers who will "make the Classic." We hope you — our BASS family and friends — will "make the Classic," too.

May 31, 2007 | Visiting Greenville, S.C.

Don't get sick. Don't get sick.

That's what I kept telling myself as I boarded a helicopter to take a bird's-eye tour of Greenville, S.C., and Lake Hartwell. It was my maiden voyage in the bird and the last thing I wanted was to hurl. I have over 100,000 frequently flyer miles on three airlines but I have never been in a helicopter; I wasn't sure how my stomach was going to handle it.

As bumpy a ride as it was, thankfully, I didn't get sick; it certainly would have ruined a great visit to an amazing destination.

Greenville is a beautiful city and aptly named. The area around the airport seemed more like a residential neighborhood: tree lined streets with thick green canopies. The pedestrian-friendly downtown is bustling with shops, restaurants and hotels. It is noticeably clean and Southern Living named it one of its top three favorite cities. Where there once was a road through a section of downtown is now the Liberty Bridge, a 380-foot pedestrian walkway overlooking a waterfall in the acclaimed Falls Park.

Downtown Greenville also boasts West End Field, the minor league park for the Greenville Drive baseball team. The venue is modeled after Fenway Park and has its own "Green Monster," a 30-foot-high wall in left field.

This stadium puts fans closer to the game than any other facility I have seen. The Coca-Cola Dugout is at field level, located just down from the Drive dugout on the first base side. Fans also get a behind-the-scenes view of players in the batting tunnel beneath the stadium.

The helicopter ride to Portman Marina (see aerial photo — taken by yours truly), launch site of the Classic, as well as around "The Upstate," was breath taking. Rolling hills, cliffs and waterfalls dot the landscape. We landed in the parking lot of Portman Marina and it will be a great venue for spectators to see the 2008 Classic launch.

Greenville is already abuzz with excitement at being selected as host of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, and they have promised to roll out the red carpet. I'll be there next February to enjoy the ESPN Expo at the Carolina First Center, the weigh-in show at the Bi-Lo Arena and the launch at Portman Marina. We hope you are there, too.

But please, feel free to drive your Tundra instead of the helicopter.