In my 35 years of playing, spectating, and working in the golf business, here are my top three memories. What are yours?
Gold Medal Moment:
In April 2010, my family and I were vacationing in Orlando, Florida and on the last day of our trip, my son Elliot and I decided to visit the Bay Hill club to view the course and purchase souvenirs. Our final stop was the 18th green to see where all the storied finishes of the Bay Hill Classic had taken place and as we approached from the cart path I noticed a very familiar figure swinging down in the fairway – Arnold Palmer. I said, “Elliot, get the camera!” and we hurried over to watch him finish. After Arnie putted out we walked up to him and introduced ourselves and shook his hand. He was tired from a hot day in the sun and a little perturbed about the bogey he just carded but was very gracious when I asked to take a few pictures with Elliot and myself. We briefly chatted and I learned that he had shot 81 and still took his playing partners for a few bucks. I told him I was a huge lifelong fan and congratulated him on hosting such an excellent event year after year. Arnie thanked us and went back to wrap up with his group. Man, was I juiced for the rest of the day! As I reflected on my long association with the game, could not think of a finer moment.
Silver Medal Moment:
My greatest hot streak ever was during the summer in the early 1990’s (actual year escapes me.) I shot even-par 70 in a warm up round on a Friday at my local muni and then followed with rounds of 69-70 on the weekend to win the 36-hole stroke play club championship. I’ve since carded a couple of random scores of 68 on the same course, but have never enjoyed back to back to back successes in the same regard. It was a bit surreal, as if a strange calmness had taken over my body. While I was nervous in the club championship rounds, it never affected my play and I have never been able to duplicate that momentum in two consecutive rounds, much less three.
Bronze Medal Moment:
The first time I broke 80. Actually shot a six-over 76 at Kenwood Golf and Country Club while working a summer job at the course in the early 1980s. You work and play for so long and wonder when it will happen, and then you clear the magic number by four shots. Funny how that works.
My first and only hole-in-one was in March of 1983. Jarred a 7-iron on #7 at Needwood in Rockville, MD. Several years ago, I actually made another on a third shot at #11 on Whitetail Golf Club in Bath, PA. After sucking my first shot with a 7-iron back off the green and down into a ravine for a lost ball, I holed the provisional with a 6-iron. A thrill but with a silver lining.