Last week in my hometown a new local business hosted a fundraising golf scramble to help high school kids to be able to afford the cost of athletic programs fees. Former Minnesota Viking, Jim Marshall, and his business partner decided that they would call on some other former Minnesota Viking players, and other Minnesota athletes, to come up and play with folks willing to contribute to this worthy cause.
Since I was coordinating the weekend from the golf course end of things, my initial plan was not to play. I wanted to make sure things went well and everyone was happy. But in the few days before the tournament, players were dropping out and teams were moving around, so I ended up on a team by Saturday morning. And I am SO glad it worked out that way!
In 1976, Beamon played in the Vikings 4th Super Bowl appearance against the Oakland Raiders (yes, I know the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl!). Since retiring from football, Beamon has been in the construction products business for over 20 years.
Since I had never played in a pro-am (or I guess this was a celebrity-am) type of event before I wasn't sure how it was going to go - I've read and heard some of the not so fun stories of folks who paid a lot more money than we did to play with "celebrities" that turned out to be...well, jerks. I wondered if these guys saw these events as obligations rather than fun outings and if they cringed at the idea of playing partners peppering them with questions.
What I can tell you is this...my day with Minnesota Viking Autry Beamon and friends, Carl, John, and Super, was one of my favorite golf days ever! As with any event I'm in at our course I'm always running to the tee box at the last minute...but one of the perks of organizing events is that I can start on the hole closest to the clubhouse. I rushed up, said Hi to everyone and we were off... For as cool as it was to be playing with such great people, the one thing I loved was that we were all here to play some golf and make some birdies, too!! I knew there were some loaded teams on course, but I figured we could have a chance to place if we got some hot putters...and boy, did we!
My friend John got the nickname Clutch last Saturday because he drained more than a handful of long putts in the anchor position - there were high-fives all over the place! And it's very important to note that my friend Carl hit driver off the deck more than once and it paid off for the team. And Super got us in great positions with several great drives.
Autry was the measure of consistency - his drives were always straight and down the middle. His putter knew where to go, but he left I don't know how many putts just inches short...at the end it was almost funny because we knew it was going to be "just short". He read every putt and thankfully I drained a few with his help. I spied that he had some Ping clubs in his bag, and a really interesting putter that I didn't catch the make of (somewhat mallet like).
I really enjoyed learning about his business career and he shared about some of his fond memories as a Viking. We found out that he attends several events like this to help support other worthy causes, and he finds himself on the golf course through work, too. And I've got to tell you, the guy looks great!! You'd never guess he played professional football in the mid-70's.
It took us awhile to find our groove, and after a short string of pars we found a few more birdies on our first nine to make the turn at -5...but we knew we needed to get to at least -11 to have any chance of placing. And just like that, drivers got hot, Clutch drained some more putts, and we ended the day with a score of -12 (60)...which got us into a scorecard playoff and we got 3rd place!
A dinner and program followed the golf, but that meant I was back into work mode so I missed out on hanging with the team. But I can't tell you how grateful I was to spend the afternoon playing golf with 4 great guys...and ending up getting a trophy!
I heard nothing but great comments from everyone that played, and I think our guests had a good time, too. (A special thanks to my friends Bob & Casey for being the Master steak grillers and our staffers and volunteers who went above and beyond!) . All of the celebrities signed autographs for more than hour and they hung out with many of the golfers after the event was over. I even heard that one of our coaches took a former Viking and his brother fishing on Lake Superior and they caught some lake trout the next day.
I'm so glad that things worked out so that I got to play golf, meet and golf with Autry Beamon, and take home a 3rd place trophy. A very, very special thank you to Autry for being a total class act and helping our community...I won't soon forget this great day.
I hope it's not too early to be looking forward to next year!
Filed under: Minnesota, scramble, Cathy Erickson, Autry Beamon