Ahhh, Golf You Gotta Love It
I love golf. Always have. Always will.
I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like had I not played golf. It isn’t that I’ve made my living from playing the game. Far from it. In fact, I’ve spent far more money on golf than on anything else in my life. If you don’t believe that, just ask the BW.
But you know what? I don’t regret a dime of that money. Golf has been my passion for more than a half century, and although my skills are obviously diminishing, the passion certainly isn’t.
I’ve been blessed in pursuing that passion. As a sports editor for more years than I care to remember, I was involved in covering the game for a daily newspaper and through that connection was granted access to some of the world’s greatest golf courses.
I’ve covered 21 Masters Tournaments, covered U.S. Opens in Atlanta, Pinehurst and Boston. I’ve covered PGA Championships, LPGA Championships, Tour Championships and hundreds of other tournaments of lesser stature.
I’ve played Augusta National and National Golf Club. I’ve played Pinehurst No. 2 and all the other numbers of the resort. I’ve played Harbour Town at Hilton Head and the Harbor Course at Wild Dunes. I’ve played courses at Keystone Resort in Colorado and Little River Resort in Carthage.
I’ve played Haig Point and Bloody Point on Daufuskie Island, and Eagle Point in Wilmington. I’ve played Pinewood in Asheboro and Tanglewood in Clemmons. I’ve played in World Amateur Championships at Myrtle Beach and Fore Moore Championships at Pine Needles.
I played in an Easter Seals benefit at Mid Pines a couple of decades ago and brought away several memorable experiences. I hit my only authenticated 300-yard drive in that event and almost became infamous for beaning the Easter Seal Poster Child with a golf ball.
The 305-yard drive came on the par-5 15th hole at Mid Pines and it was admittedly downhill. But, hey, I wasn’t proud then and I’d be delighted to hit a 205-yard drive on that hole today.
Almost wounding the Poster Child is not one of my favorite memories, although it remains one of the most vivid. I pulled a 7-iron tee shot on the par-3 11th hole and was following the leftward flight of the ball when I spied a golf cart coming toward us. The ball hit the path just in front of the cart, ricocheted off the path and bounced through the cart, right between the volunteer driver and the 10-year-old girl. That was scary.
That was the same tournament where I made friends with a couple of great entertainers: Jim Hampton, who starred in a couple of movies with Burt Reynolds; and Mickey Jones, a country singer who gave an impromptu performance in the lounge that lasted until past midnight.
That was great stuff, especially when Jones gave us a rendition of “the most perfect country song ever written.”
I can’t remember the lyrics, but I do remember parts of one stanza. It went something like, “It was raining the night I drove my pickup to the railroad station to pick up my mama who had just got out of prison.”
I know, those aren’t the exact words, but you can certainly see why this might be the perfect country song.
That was the year that the legendary Roy Brown and I were partners and we absolutely blitzed the field. Won a set of golf clubs that I sold to a buddy for $100. He had a heart attack and died before he ever had a chance to play with them.
I was playing so good that week that I thought for sure that I had found the answer. Roy and I finished up in the Easter Seals benefit at Mid Pines on Sunday morning and went across the street to play in the first round of the Carolinas Golf Reporters championship at Pine Needles that afternoon.
My partner and I got off to a great start. I made birdies on three of the first four holes, then shanked a 9-iron on the next hole and shanked every iron I hit for the next two days. That was when I learned that golf is just a rental game.
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