This week is the Phoenix Open (er, I mean the Waste Management Open) and I'm having (mostly) happy memories of my trip to Phoenix last year...I only made it to the tourney 1 day (technically, 2 days, but everything was canceled on Wednesday!), but I spent about 6 hours on #16 that Friday and had a blast (the wagering going on was amazing!) I'm not sure if you remember, but last year Phoenix experienced record low temperatures and frost delays that prompted the cancelation of the Wednesday pro-am and eventually led to a Monday finish. I still golfed 4 times while I was out there, but my shorts stayed in my suitcase and I had to go buy some warmer clothes (dang you Phoenix!!).
So if you don't mind, instead of writing about the impending doom of Tiger Woods for finishing 3rd place (gasp!) in Abu Dhabi (some of the articles about TW are just plain silly), or Kyle Stanley's triple at Torrey that cost him his first PGA win and possibly his mental sanity according to some (hey, at least it wasn't a 16!), I'm going to fill in the rest of my blog space this week with my "What About Bob" entry...I can honestly say that my feelings are the same today as they were then. And as I see stories popping up in the golf media world about "what can golf do to make a comeback?", I think the more important question might be, "what can WE do to help (re)grow the game and help it thrive?". Remembering Bob and his passion reminds me that we can all be ambassadors of the game. And I think Bob would probably be rooting for Matt Kuchar with me this week, too. Go Matt!!
What About Bob - originally posted March 17, 2009
While still in the last few weeks of the golf "off season" my mind wanders to golf people, places, and things that have influenced me. There are many that come to mind, but lately I've been thinking about my friend's Dad, Bob.
Bob is what I would describe as the "classic golfer". He had his ‘regular guys' that he played with, was active in the leagues, had respect for the rules and the courses he played, and he wore his passion on his sleeve (literally, too - he had great golf clothes!). Bob was also one of those guys who could pull off the Greg Norman straw hat (now that's a classic golfer!). He didn't need the latest and greatest of everything, but he invested in clubs that would best suit his game. (He was the one who got me hooked on Callaway, his "go to" club was his Heavenwood.)
One of my favorite golf trip memories was being invited to go with Bob's daughter to visit Bob and his wife, Alice, at their home in Arizona several years ago. There were 2 golf courses in their community and we spent 3 days playing (we reserved one day for shopping!). The weather was fantastic and the golf was great. The weekend we were there was both Easter and the Masters, and Bob and I watched several hours of golf together on their awesome TV. A memory that makes me smile right now is that on Easter Sunday they arranged the table so Bob and I could watch golf while we had Easter dinner. I loved watching golf with Bob - we were like our own golf announcing team...excellent running commentary (I was the funny one!).
Before Bob retired and moved to Arizona, I saw him a lot at our golf course. I'm thinking now, we didn't golf enough together! But we had some fun rounds...I'm visualizing his swing...more "around" than "up", and an abbreviated follow-through - but it worked for him. When I worked at our local course he was great supporter and he encouraged others to support us, too. It meant a lot.
He was also a stickler for the rules and wasn't afraid to tell golfers to keep their carts on the paths or keep play moving (that was the educator in him!). He, like me, loved a great golf shot - it didn't matter who hit it - but he also let out his frustrations when execution didn't go as planned. He was a competitor, too, and he liked to win. If I had to guess, he was a high single digit handicap - his strengths were keeping the ball in play, a great bump and run shot, and a hot putter.
Bob had many other interests and activities to keep him busy, but golf was a true passion for him. He had his yearly golf trip with "the boys" (I loved the Myrtle Beach stories!), and I don't think there was a question that he and his wife would be moving to "warmer climates" when he was able to retire. Bob was one of the people that taught me that golf is more than just a game. And for that I will be forever grateful.
If what you've just read reminds you of someone you know, why not give them a call today and just thank them for being a great ambassador for golf, and better yet, set up a time to go play together. If this story reminds you of you, well then, THANK YOU for being you! And if you're wondering where you might find a great person like Bob, stop and take a look in the mirror - let Bob be an example to you to get out there and share the passion for golf with other people. Get involved in your club, invite a few new golfers to go play, or just make a commitment to get out with your buddies whenever you can.
Bob lost his battle with cancer just short of two years ago, and even though I miss him, I carry his passion with me and try to share it whenever I can. Golf is so much more than Tiger or Phil, Titleist or Ping, or acres of grass. Golf builds character, teaches and tests patience, rewards practice and skill, throws a little luck (good or bad) our way, and us gives the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature...and, most importantly, the beauty of friendships. I know life is busy, but it just can't be too busy for all of that. Bob embraced all that golf has to offer and he never took it for granted. I hope I continue to do the same thing. I hope you do, too.
Filed under: passion, Golf, Cathy Erickson, Phoenix, Amy Grant, thrive