Tickets for Nicklaus Lecture a Tough Find
For some it was a dream come true Friday, and for others it was a disappointing outcome to the long-anticipated acquisition of tickets to hear golf legend Jack Nicklaus speak in Southern Pines this week.
Nicklaus is scheduled to lecture at Owens Auditorium as part of the Ruth Pauley Lecture Series at Sandhills Community College, where he will share the stage with Jaime Diaz, senior writer for Golf Digest magazine. Titled “A Conversation on Golf,” the event will be the first Ruth Pauley Lecture of the 2012-2013 season.
Nicklaus and Diaz will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The free tickets were available Friday morning at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, Given Memorial Library in Pinehurst, and at the Boyd Library on the Sandhills campus, with each location having 160 tickets for distribution.
Long lines formed at each location early on Friday morning.
Twenty-six-year-old professional golfer Cody McBride was the first to arrive at The Country Bookshop.
“I got here at 7 a.m. and was surprised to learn that I was the first person here,” said McBride. “The street was deserted, so I took Freddie, my beagle, for a walk. At about 7:45 I saw people beginning to arrive, and we ran back to the bookstore.”
As the line grew from the bookstore to The Ice Cream Parlor at the corner of Broad Street and East New Hampshire in Southern Pines, apprehension began to grow among some of those waiting as to whether or not they would be one of the “lucky” recipients when the tickets were distributed at 10 a.m.
“I wish I had gotten here 20 minutes earlier,” said Eleanor Cross, of the Deercroft community near Wagram. “A lady from the bookstore came by and did a head count, and said we were in the 80s. With 160 tickets available and at two per person, that’s cutting it a little close.”
As the doors opened and the crowd began moving quickly forward, store general manager Kimberly Daniels and children’s bookseller Angie Tally handed tickets to those in line as they entered the store. The stack of tickets grew thin, but Cross received a pair.
“It was worth the wait,” said Cross with a wide smile. “It’s going to be a fun evening.”
The Country Bookshop was the last resort for some, with tickets having been given away earlier in the day at the other two locations.
“Seven minutes,” said Given Memorial Library office manager Melissa Bielby. “That’s how long it took.”
Bielby said the line of ticket hopefuls “stretched out, around, down the sidewalk and down the street.”
Library director Audrey Moriarty agreed.
“If I had 1,000 tickets, I couldn’t have given them to all the people who wanted them,” she said.
Bielby added that some expressed their disappointment that more tickets were not available.
Boyd Library was the first location to offer tickets, beginning at 7:45 a.m.
“The tickets went very quickly, and we had a good mix of ages in line,” said library director John Stacey. “Security took a head count and notified those down the line that they would probably not receive tickets. Some came inside anyway to check.”
At 10:10 a.m., Tally handed out the last pair of tickets to those waiting at The Country Bookshop.
“I can’t believe it,” said Dorothy Shankle, of Southern Pines. “I had no idea the line would be like this.”
Daniels said that aside from some “mutterings,” the crowd was well-behaved and “very nice.” She said she felt badly for the “great customers” who were unable to obtain tickets.
“It breaks my heart,” she said.
Nicklaus was invited to the event by a personal friend, the Rev. Dr. William E. Smith, of Southern Pines. Smith has known Nicklaus since 1965, when Smith became senior pastor of North Broadway United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
Capacity seating at Owens Auditorium is 700.
The Smith family, Pauley Lecture Series board members, and Sandhills Community College Foundation board members also received tickets.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@the pilot.com.
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