An hour before the Zac Brown Band took the stage at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott on Friday, 8-year-old Ava Miller found a way to pass the time.

It is not uncommon to see a white ball fly off the 18th fairway at En-Joie, especially during the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

But at this time of night, when the day’s round of golf was long over, it was somewhat odd to see a small plastic ball flying through the air.

“Stop chatting, no more throws,” Ava, 8, told her aunt after a momentary pause in their catch-up game.

After watching Old Dominion play at last year’s Dick’s Open, Ava wanted to come back this year and her aunt Theresa Ondrako, 35, her friend Melissa Fisher, 35, and Ava’s mother, Colleen Ondrako, 37 , decided to pass the time however they could. think about.

“It’s like the third hour of play,” Ondrako said. “We were doing relay races earlier.”

But the wait is something Theresa Ondrako and Melissa Fisher are used to by now. They haven’t missed a Dick’s Open gig since the first in 2007.

The Zac Brown Band returned to En-Joie Golf Course in Endicott on Friday August 19, 2022. The band played overhanging the 18th green following the first round of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

After 15 years, the Dick’s Open stage has seen a variety of acts like Hootie and the Blowfish, Train and Blake Shelton, but only the Zac Brown Band set foot on stage twice, making local history Friday night.

The Zac Brown Band released their debut album titled Home Grown in 2005, building on their success since with hits like “Toes”, “Chicken Fried”, “Whatever It Is” and “As She’s Walking Away”, earning the bandmates Zac Brown, Clay Cook, John Driskell Hopkins, Matt Mangano, Coy Bowles, Daniel de los Reyes, Jimmy De Martini, Chris Fryar and Caroline Jones Grammy Awards plus honors from the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association .

And on Friday night, after a tribute to the late Tim Myers, who died in July last year after leading the Dick’s Open since its inception in 2007, a medley of the band’s hits, including “Same Boat” from their latest album released in 2021 titled “The Comeback” and covers, like “Use Somebody” from Kings of Leon, captivated the crowd for two hours.

As the setting sun colored the clouds many shades of pink and purple and the crowd around them thickened, Ava and Theresa’s wrestling game was coming to an end.

The crowd gathered on the 18th green turned to the stage. The Zac Brown Band came out to greet them, six years after they last performed at the same venue.

So much has changed since then. The band was inducted into the Fenway Music Hall of Fame, earned their 9th Grammy nomination, and band member John Driskell Hopkins, or “Hop,” started a foundation called “Hop On A Cure,” the same words printed on the hat he wore Friday night after being diagnosed with ALS late last year.

But when the opening notes of “Keep Me In Mind” echoed around the grandstand and deep into the fairway, the feeling was familiar. Hundreds of people sang together and on stage, Zac Brown turned to the microphone and spoke to the crowd.

“It’s great to be here with you all.”

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