The Memorial: Spending Time in Jack's Backyard
My daughter Ann, who lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio, called about two weeks ago and the opening greeting was, “Hey, Mom, would you like to come out and go to the Memorial Tournament?”
My response was a resounding yes. And so the journey began.
Due to connections Ann had made during the year, she received an invitation from SAS (Statistical Analysis Systems) to attend the tournament and enjoy the play from their skybox overlooking the 14th fairway and green. This is a permanent three-story structure that houses several corporate sponsors.
The box is air-conditioned, has bathrooms, comfortable seats, with food and drink served all day long. Plus the spectacular view.
From start to finish it was a first-class adventure. We picked up our credentials where the shuttle bus dropped us off. We had badges and wristbands, and an earphone from Nationwide so that you could hear a play by play while on the course.
We followed our tee sheet as we made our way to the 14th hole, stopping several times to watch Tiger, Fred Couples and Bill Haas on No. 9, the threesome of Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley on No. 11, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson on the front nine.
In the comfort of the sky-box we viewed Ernie Els, Charlie Hoffman and Stewart Cink all birdie the 14th after approach shots to within three feet of the pin.
There is more to this competition than just bringing together the top players in the world. Jack and Barbara Nicklaus have long been champions of charities that promote better health care for children in their hometown of Columbus.
The Nicklaus Children’s Health Care foundation joined with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2011. Nationwide is the premier presenting sponsor, and raised more than $870,000. These funds secured the continuing research that benefits the lives of countless children and their families.
Naturally, the goal this year is to reach the $1 million mark, and with the help of the many businesses, volunteers, local area fans and the always supportive members of Muirfield Village Golf Club, it will surely happen.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I enjoyed the drive into Dublin, Ohio. The streets, one after the other, with Irish names like Waterford, Donegal, Claddaugh and Rose of Sharon, and the fire hydrants painted green, and shamrock banners on all the light posts. I’ve been to Dublin, Ireland, many times and I trust this is the beginning of many visits to Dublin, Ohio.
The Columbus Dispatch has a section of the paper, each day, devoted exclusively to the tournament. It is much like what The Pilot did during U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2 and Pine Needles.
A story about Tom Watson, the 2012 honoree, highlighted his professional career, as well as the many times he and Nicklaus were competing for the same trophy. From all accounts it was very emotional for both men to look back on the rivalry that made them famous and created a friendship that will last a lifetime.
I watched the final holes on television, and it was a great finish. Tiger was at his best and had the fans cheering him as he played his way to the 18th hole and a birdie putt to win.
I was glad that I was able to walk those finishing holes during the week, adding them to my memory bank of special closing holes and unforgettable finishes.
Jack and Tiger are now tied at 73 PGA wins each. It sounds a little like a Hollywood finish when you realize it happened at Jack’s home course.
Contact Nancy O’Connell at apcnancy@rocketmail. com.
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