I was very saddened at the passing of Arnold Palmer yesterday. His humbleness, kindness, and unassuming personality towards regular folks made him truly a man of the people. He was one of my heroes and will be missed. I’d like to share a couple of Arnie stories.
At 19 years old, I was attending the Kemper Open at Congressional Country Club. Even at age 51, Arnie was a fierce competitor and it was true that he could burn hot at times. On this day, I was in his gallery surrounding the par-4 12th green. Arnie hit his approach on in regulation and proceeded to three-putt for bogey. After holing out, Arnie sent the blade into orbit with a two-hand jaw-dropping reverse tomahawk straight over his head. I was half shocked and half amazed that I just saw one of the greatest players on earth wing metal in earnest. I thought, how cool was that! And Arnie had the wherewithal to aim this rocket towards the next tee box and away from any curious onlookers. The image has remained with me to this day and in 1985 it turned into a lesson on club throwing. I was playing the uphill par-5 17th at Kenwood Country Club in Bethesda, MD and badly missed my second shot with a 4-iron. I sent my own missile helicoptering off into the left rough and spent the next 15 minutes searching for my golf club in knee-high fescue. I have never thrown a club since.
In 2010, I was on a family vacation during spring break in Orlando. On the last day of the trip, my son Elliot and I ventured out to Bay Hill to visit the course and collect souvenirs. Our last stop was the 18th green, the scene of so many memorable Bay Hill Classic finishes. A work crew was taking down the last of the bleachers from the recently completed tournament, and I noticed out of the corner of my eye way down in the fairway a very familiar golf swing. Yes, the King was out playing golf and we were there watching with nobody else around! Must have been my fight or flight mechanism kicking in but I don’t ever remember being as excited on a golf course, and I yelled for Elliot to “get the camera out!”
Arnie had always been a club tinkerer and was always looking for a way to improve his golf, even late in life. What struck me first was how many clubs were in his bag. There must have been about 40 in the two Arnold Palmer Callaway tour bags. We watched Arnie and his foursome putt out and he came strolling over to his cart. We walked up and introduced ourselves. It was a hot day and Arnie was looking tired but he was so gracious and accommodating when we asked him to pose for a couple pictures. Not wanting to keep him for long, we got our photos and chatted for a couple minutes. I asked him how he played and he said he’d shot an 81 (not bad for an 80-year old) and had, “taken a couple bucks off his friends.” I thought, not bad for a man with seven major championships and millions in the bank.
There was a bit of a buzz from a previous post I authored on how to plan a golf trip. Some readers asked about getting like minded individuals together for a golf bloggers convention. Could be a great opportunity to bring folks who love to play and write about the game together. I’d be up for it, what about you? There are several ways this could work. I’ll throw out a few ideas and look to get your feedback. If there’s enough interest, I’d be happy to get the ball rolling on organization.
Try to make this event as inclusive as possible to boost participation. Not sure how many golf bloggers there are so that may mean opening it up to perhaps golf writers. Create our own convention with our own program, or join an existing one and gather together outside the official program for our own activities. In either case, we’ll need to put a program together to generate interest for participants as well as those who want to bring family members and significant others.
Choose the right time of year and location. This will have to be in 2016 to leave enough time to plan and for folks traveling internationally to budget.
Perhaps couple it with a noteworthy golf industry event like a trade show, or tournament, where we’d ensure that many more amateur and professional writers would be in attendance, or maybe do our event as a shadow event, or one that immediately follows the main event. Again, anything to increase participation.
Provide a locale near a very accessible city, since many will need to travel. Ensure the destination has ample entertainment, lodging, quality golf courses, meeting facilities, and food options.
Some options on time and place:
April 2016(est). Las Vegas Convention Center. Attend the NMX show (New Media Expo). This is a convention with 97,000 attendees and features tracks for bloggers. Obviously this is easiest from an organization standpoint. You attend, go to the sessions that interest you, and meetup outside of official hours for our own activities. Here’s a link to the 2015 schedule grid.
January 2016. Orlando, Florida. Shadow the PGA Merchandise show. The 2015 show had 41,000+ attendees. Golf Writers Association of America are sponsors and are in attendence.
March 2016. Orlando, Florida. Shadow the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Orlando is obviously a great venue because of the accessible facilities and entertainment options. We could attend the tournament for one or more days, meet offsite, play at other courses, socialize and enjoy Orlando.
February 2016. San Diego, California. Shadow the Golf Industry Show. Predicted to have 14,000+ attendees.
Late January/early February 2016. Phoenix, Arizona. Shadow the Waste Management Open. Raucous party atmosphere with a good time had by all. Same idea as Orlando/Bay Hill.
Do any of these sound good? Shoot me a comment if you’re interested and with suggestions/preferences on time and venue. Thanks!
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