I sometimes battle myself as to how personal I want to go on this Blog. I’ve decided to share my most intimate thoughts and life experiences, especially those that alter how we think, feel and act.
Last week on Wednesday I was playing a practice round at the Crump Cup at Pine Valley, and as always thinking to myself that this is my most favorite place in the world. I believe this is shared by many of us that are privileged to play in this amazing event.
That evening I called back home to see how my mom was doing, as she has been battling cancer for a year. The caretaker told me she was not doing well, and that she had slipped the past few days. I was worried, but decided to play my first round at the Crump Cup on Thursday morning. After a rough start (plus 3 after 5 holes) I got my act together on the back nine, and fired a solid 72.
Calling back home after my round, a family friend visiting my mom, told me that Hospice was coming to give my mom oxygen, an IV and some Morphine. My mom was unable to talk, hardly able to swallow, and breath. It was an easy decision to head to the airport to see her. I made a mistake by looking at Expedia and not going directly to the airline websites. There was still a non-stop flight that afternoon from Philly to SF that would have gotten me in at 7:00pm. Instead I raced off to the Newark airport for a 7:10 non-stop flight getting in at 9:30 pm. I made the flight, and when the plane took off, it suddenly stopped on the middle of the runway and returned to the terminal. Needing a new plane took 4 hours, and we finally arrived at 1:30 am into SFO.
I was terrified to check my phone, as I was scared that my mom didn’t make it. I was numb reading a text message from my brother that at 10:00 pm mom had passed away with only the caretaker by her side. Life is unfortunately having to deal with death of those we love most. My mom has been my biggest supporter, the reason I am the person I am today, and she gave me the opportunity to play golf. She was a very passionate person, a concert pianist, and loved music and teaching music.
Arriving back home where she was when I left, she was now gone, gone from the bed and room that she has been living in for over 60 years. It was a very strange and uncomfortable feeling. Friday morning is when the reality started to hit me, that my mom was gone forever. I had no intention or desire to play golf for awhile with the way I was feeling at that moment. But some time enables us to reflect on what we need to do going forward. One of the great things about my mom was she was always very positive and told me to “GO FOR IT” which made me think about what decision I needed to make about the USGA Four Ball qualifier on Monday at Sonoma Golf Club. I knew that the qualifying field was probably the strongest in the country, and that 50 teams were vying for 2 spots into the tournament next May at Bandon Dunes.
I have one of the greatest best ball partners in the world in Jason Anthony. He is mega talented, and seems to play his best golf when we are together. This year at the NCGA Four Ball at Spyglass Hill, he was as good as any tour player, and if I was able to help him a little more, we would have won that event.
Our track record in the USGA Four ball has been consistent, we either make it running away, or we end up in a playoff or miss by one shot. I felt it would be unfair to Jason to withdraw from the Monday qualifier as he then would be left out of the event that he was super looking forward to. Without much sleep, and being totally emotionally drained, I committed to Jason to give everything I had on Monday.
On Monday when I arrived, I felt listless and numb, and rather weak from the intense emotional drain. But I also knew that I have played some of my best golf when I have been emotionally and physically challenged. I am not sure why that is, perhaps we become less results oriented and just play loose with little expectation.
I’m not one that believes that someone after death is with them in spiritual way, well that is until I played the first three holes at Sonoma Golf Club last Wednesday. here’s what happened: After a solid tee shot down the middle, I had 122 left to a back right pin. Normally my max on my A wedge (50 degrees ) is 120 yards. I decided to hit the A wedge hard, and give it all I had. I felt a presence on my right shoulder that is very hard to explain. My shot went up like in slow motion, and drew a yard right to the hole, landed 2 inches directly in front of the cup, and somehow didn’t go in. I was left with an inside left putt from 4 feet. With Jason about 18 feet for birdie, I went first, and with eyes closed, made the 4 footer to get off to a good start.
The second hole was even more amazing. After a good drive on this uphill 530 yard par 5, I was left with 275 to the pin. The other player in my group was right with me and decided to wait, even though he said he couldn’t get there. He hit and ended up 30 yards short left in the bunker. My three metal shot came of better than I expected and drew right to the opening of the green and rolled to the middle of the green. I was shocked, I had no idea I could reach the front of the green, let alone get to the middle. Jason also hit it on the green about 40 feet away and made a solid two putts for birdie. My 20 footer had very little break in it, and I decided to hit it right edge. I hit another eyes closed putt and opened my eyes to see the ball half way heading on a perfect line and right into the cup for an eagle 3. I was a bit stunned, and again felt the presence of my mom there helping me.
The same thing occurred on the 3rd hole, after a good tee shot, I had 125 to a back right pin. There was a bank to the left of the pin that I decided to use as my target. My shot again looked eerily similar to the shot on the first hole, just dead at where I intended, it hit the slow and rolled down to the hole, lipped out and was hanging over the cup for a tap in birdie to start 3 3 3 and -4 for those opening holes.
Hole 4 was a 220 yard par three with a very small green. Jason hit first a great shot to 20 feet from the hole. My baby rescue shot was on a perfect line, but hit soft and did not carry up the slope to where the pin was. I did miss that birdie putt, and thought to myself that perhaps mom doesn’t want this to look too obvious that she was there helping me along. From that point on Jason was the one she looked after as Jason made 7 birdies from the 5th hole through the 18th hole. The two birdie putts he made on 16 and 18 got us to -11 for the qualifier, and not a shot to spare as three teams shot -10 62, and one team shot -13 59.
I am so happy for Jason, and that I was able to help him in the beginning of the round. I ultimately ran out of gas on the back, and it was all Jason Anthony. He is a great and loving friend, he is a great golfer and an even better human being. Our journey together now will extend beyond my 60th birthday which means while we are at Bandon Dunes he will have a 60 year old partner that knows it just a number and that we plan to give that field hell!!
And finally I tried my best in the NCGA Senior Amateur this week at Poppy Hills, but just couldn’t do it. The stakes were high, as a win would have edged me past Jeff Wilson for NCGA Player of the year, but honestly I just didn’t care about that. And I strongly believe that Jeff Wilson deserves to be the NCGA player of the year for what he accomplished this year by qualifying and being low amateur in the USGA Senior Open, and then winning the USGA Senior amateur after being medalist. I am not sure how you can do better than that. And I heartily congratulate Jeff on his amazing year.
Thank you for reading about my life, and how life just takes us constantly up and down. I now have the challenge of missing someone everyday that was so important in my life. But after Monday, I know that she will always be with me. And to that end, I am very excited about life, and living it to the fullest as she would want.
Please stay tuned for perhaps the best stock tip you’ll ever get, seriously its up next!!