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Fore and before: 18 destinations to aim for during PGA Championship week in Tulsa

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Southern Hills Country Club will add to its rich history by hosting another golf major — the 104th PGA Championship — next week.

Practice rounds will take place Monday, May 16, through Wednesday, May 18. Tournament play begins Thursday, May 19, and continues through Sunday, May 22.

For visitors spending all or part of the week in Tulsa, here’s a tee-to-green (Guthrie Green, that is) list of 18 “flags” to aim for while in the host city:

1. Don’t “only” try to hit the center of the fairway. Hit Center of the Universe at 20 E. Archer St.

Stallone at Center of the Universe

The Center of the Universe attracted Sylvester Stallone when scenes were shot there for Taylor Sheridan's "Tulsa King."

Center of the Universe is an oddball downtown attraction (described as an “acoustic anomaly”) that would be right at home in the Twilight Zone.

Look for a concrete circle inside a brick circle. A person who speaks inside the center can hear their voice loudly echoed, but only those inside the circle can hear the echo.

Sylvester Stallone experienced Center of the Universe when footage was shot there in March for Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming series “Tulsa King,” which stars Stallone as a ex-con gangster who launches the next phase of his life in Tulsa. After filming a scene at Center of the Universe, Stallone returned to visit with his daughter.

2. How good can a public park be?

Find out for yourself by exploring Gathering Place, a 66.5-acre, $465 million park alongside the Arkansas River.

Weather Feature

People walk down a path at the Gathering Place, a nationally acclaimed park in Tulsa.

Made possible by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Gathering Place opened in 2018 and was subsequently named the nation’s best new attraction by readers of USA Today. In 2019, Gathering Place made Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 greatest places and National Geographic outed the park as one of 12 “mind-bending” playgrounds around the world. In 2021, 10best.com crowned Gathering Place the nation’s best city park. For information, go to gatheringplace.org.

3. How’s your swing? Cain’s Ballroom, a world-famous Tulsa honky tonk, is blessed with rich Western swing music heritage.

Cain's Ballroom

Cain's Ballroom is a historic honky tonk in Tulsa's Arts District. 

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys called Cain’s Ballroom home from 1935 through 1942. They transformed the venue at 423 N. Main St. into the Carnegie Hall of Western swing.

Cain’s Ballroom continues to welcome performers of all genres. You’ll get a sense of its history if you check out the photos inside. Sid Vicious punched a hole in the wall when the Sex Pistols made a tour stop there in the 1970s. In 2018, Jack White called it one of his favorite places — if not “the” favorite — to play in the world.

“The first day I came into town, just looking at it, I was really upset that nobody had ever told me about Tulsa,” he said. “I walked into Cain’s Ballroom, and I basically almost fired my booking agent the moment I walked into that room. Why do I not know about this place? Why have I never been booked here? Why have you never even mentioned this? It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. And the vibe when we played the show, it was just incredible.”

For tickets to Cain’s Ballroom events, go to cainsballroom.com.

4. Tulsa Theater is another long-surviving music Tulsa music destination.

Daryl Hall is teaming up with Todd Rundgren for a May 20 show there. Comedian Brian Regan will perform the night before. For tickets, go to tulsatheater.com.

5. There’s no gambling at Bushwood, but Tulsa-area casinos (River Spirit Casino, Hard Rock Tulsa and Osage Casino) are popular entertainment destinations.

Golf and entertainment will collide when David Feherty performs May 19 at Hard Rock Live inside the Hard Rock. For tickets, go to hardrockcasinotulsa.com.

6. You’ve got good timing if you’re a music fan and you’re rolling into Tulsa for the PGA.

Church Studio, 304 S. Trenton Ave., has been restored to past glory and is open for tours. Church Studio served as a home base for homegrown Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell when he operated Shelter Records out of Tulsa in the 1970s. Music artists from all over the world gravitated to Tulsa to hang out with Russell because he was just that cool. Among artists in the Shelter Records stable: The GAP Band, Tom Petty and Dwight Twilley.

Leon Statue

Sculptor Jim Franklin looks at his Leon Russell statue after it was installed outside Church Studio in 2021. The studio has been restored and is now open for tours.

For information, go to thechurchstudio.com.

7. Heard this before? You’ve got good timing if you’re a music fan and you’re rolling into Tulsa for the PGA.

Tulsa is home to the Bob Dylan Archives. The Bob Dylan Center opened in Tulsa’s Arts District opened this month. For information, go to bobdylancenter.com.

Dylan

Visit the newly opened Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa.

8. Prior to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Greenwood was a bustling community of African-American owned businesses known as Black Wall Street.

The Greenwood Cultural Center is a good starting point for those who want to explore the history of the Greenwood District and Black Wall Street. For information, go to historicgreenwooddistrict.com and greenwoodculturalcenter.org.

massacre commemoration

The 1921 Black Wall Street Memorial is located in front of the Greenwood Cultural Center.

9. Pop culture aficionados might appreciate that the careers of Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Emilio Estevez were jump-started in Tulsa.

The actors were pups when they were cast for the 1983 shot-in-Tulsa film “The Outsiders.”

The Outsiders House Museum, 731 N. Saint Louis Ave., is a former film site dedicated to the movie and the S.E. Hinton book that inspired the film. The executive director is Danny O’Connor, a hip-hop artist from House of Pain. The group’s signature song, “Jump Around,” recently turned 30.

Rob Lowe

Actor Rob Lowe, who played Sodapop Curtis in the shot-in-Tulsa movie “The Outsiders,” attended an NCAA Tournament at the BOK Center and returned to the Outsiders House during a past visit to Tulsa. 

The Outsiders House Museum has become “the” spot for celebrity pop-ins. Leonardo DiCaprio toured the museum last year, and Barry Williams of “The Brady Bunch” recently performed a music show on the museum’s lawn.

For information, go to theoutsidershouse.com.

10. Drive-in movie scenes for “The Outsiders” were shot at Tulsa’s Admiral Twin Drive-In.

How many cities still have a functional drive-in? The Admiral Twin celebrated a 70th anniversary last year. For showtimes, go to admiraltwindrivein.com.

11. Watching golf be played at a high level sometimes brings out the Tiger in people.

If you’re bringing your sticks, Tulsa has a surplus of golf options. Some of the more stunning golf views in the metro area can be found at Patriot Golf Club in Owasso. It’s a course with a mission behind breaking par.

For information, go to patriotgolfclub.com.

12. BOK Center in downtown Tulsa continues to gain acclaim as one of the nation’s best large-scale music venues.

Little bit country and a little bit rock and roll? The Eagles are playing BOK Center on May 16. Brooks & Dunn will play there May 21. For tickets, go to bokcenter.com.

13. Get your kicks on Route 66.

Tulsa embraces being a sweet spot on the Mother Road. Go to tulsa66.org before rolling down the road and say hello to Mother Road Market. This cool Route 66 venture was recently announced.

Route 66

This Route 66 sign is at the roundabout at Admiral Place and Mingo Road.

14. Once upon a time, legendary horror actor and art lover Vincent Price was a vocal proponent of two revered Tulsa museums, Gilcrease Museum and the Philbrook Museum of Art.

Gilcrease Museum is closed because ground has been broken for the construction of a new Gilcrease, but Philbook is open to visitors. For Philbrook’s operating hours, go to philbrook.org.

15. If you’re interested in reading more than greens, Gardner’s Used Books and Music, 4421 S. Mingo Road, is a book hunter’s paradise.

Get lost in a maze of books. Yes, there’s a section of golf books. For information, go to gardnersbooks.com.

Golf books at Gardner's

Shelves of golf books await customers at Gardner's Used Books & Music. 

16. Water hazard? Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks is home to the world’s largest collection of bull sharks.

Visitors can walk through tunnels beneath and alongside them. For information, go to okaquarium.org. If you want to see a variety of critters, dinosaurs included, the Tulsa Zoo (tulsaszoo.org) recently debuted Zoorassic World, an immersive, temporary exhibit featuring more than 25 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs.

Oklahoma Aquarium sharks

Spectators watch as bull sharks eat a meal at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. 

17. A comic con will take place in Tulsa the same weekend as the PGA Championship.

The inaugural Uncanny Comic Expo is scheduled May 21-22 at Central Park Hall on the fairgrounds. For tickets and information, go to uncannycomicexpo.com. While you are there, you can see the famous 76-foot-tall Golden Driller statue out front.

18. Who says a city’s downtown must be gray? A green space — Guthrie Green — has been preserved in Tulsa’s Arts District.

There’s a performance stage at the urban park for special events.

Tulsa Symphony at Guthrie Green

Gather at downtown Tulsa's urban park, Guthrie Green, and be sure to visit the Woody Guthrie Center across the street.

Guthrie Green (guthriegreen.com) gets its name from native Oklahoman Woody Guthrie, a folk music icon. The Woody Guthrie Center is located across the street from Guthrie Green at 102 E. Reconciliation Way and is hosting a “Bruce Springsteen Live!” exhibit. Go to woodyguthriecenter.org for information.


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Scene Writer

I cover pop culture and work as a feature writer at the Tulsa World. A former Oklahoma sports writer of the year, I have written books about former OU coach Barry Switzer and former OSU coach Pat Jones. Phone: 918-581-8389

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