That is what a lady said to me this morning at my coffee shop. She was reacting to what happened this past Sunday at the Master's golf tournament and something he did.
If you did not see the coverage Kuchar had a golfer's dream. He had a hole-in-one on the 16th hole of the last day of the event. He hit probably an eight iron, the ball landed on the green to the right of the cup, rolled down a few feet and at the very end fell into the cup. Amazing yes. But for me that is only half of the story.
Personally I can remember first seeing Kuchar when I was at the Master's in 1999. At that time he was nineteen years old and still an amateur. He was there as the previous year's U.S. Amateur champion is invited to play in the Master's. His father was his caddie and Kuchar always seemed to be smiling. Who wouldn't, you're a nineteen year old kid with your dad on the bag and you are playing in the Master's. Get happy really quick.
But yesterday for me was more than just about Kuchar. It is what Kuchar did after his hole-in-one performance. He took the ball from the cup, to the roar of the crowd, stepped back, took out what looked like a sharpie and wrote something on the ball. Then he turned and began walking toward the crowd. At that time I said from my big living room easy chair to my wife, "He's gonna give that ball away."
Side track here. Now I have been fortunate to have made two holes-in- one--well one not officially as I had the luck to be playing in Florida and was playing by myself--so officially not a hole-in-one...my point is right now I know where both those balls are. They have been retired, will never see play again and I am not giving them away.
Kuchar walks to the ropes reaches out and hands the ball to a young boy in the crowd. He gave the ball to ten year old Owen Lackaby from Bradenton, Florida. The young boy was wearing a straw hat like legendary golfer Sam Snead always wore. Also, on that hat he had penned a button Augusta National had given out to patrons attending as a tribute to the late Arnold Palmer. The boy was stunned. The look on this young boy's face for me was worth countless dollars. I about came out of my chair...."He just gave this kid the ball...look at this kid...he's beside himself." I was also. I even felt a lump coming up in my throat.
I like golf for a lot of reasons. I never played the game at all until I got out of college. I probably in my youth called it a rich man's sport or even a sissy sport. My first year of teaching and coaching I was not married. I went with some fellow coaches on a Saturday to just kill some time. A fella coach (Jerry Bender) said, "Hey I got some extra clubs in the trunk come on you might as well play with us.--Thanks Jerry) A love affair was born. A great line that can be said about a lot of us who play the game is :How can one do something so poorly and enjoy it so much?"
As I said I like golf for a lot of reasons. Seems even more and more as I have aged and also I have watched what is happening in the sporting world in other sports. Personally I cannot stand professional basketball. Baseball has pretty much left me. I might sit for a bit on a Sunday afternoon and watch pro football but I think that is more for me to get a short nap in my chair than what I see on the screen. Even big time college basketball is slipping for me. Slipping bad.
I like a sport that respects another's opponent. A sport that acknowledges the skills of another, can even give them a high-five or a fist bump after doing such. I like a sport where a person can acknowledge their short comings on a given day and then not lay blame to someone else. I like a sport that in a sense self-officiates. I watched a player this past week thought possibly he had caused an infraction and was ready to penalize himself in something no one else had even seen. Compare that with too much of what one sees in society today. Some folks now throw a fit when even three different set of eyes (refs) call an infraction.
I like a sport that remembers the past history of others who have been a part of that sport and the various great things that over the years took place in the sport. Names like Hogan, Snead, Nelson, Jones, etc. are not foreign to most of those who play the game today. Another side bar: I like most anything that is old being remembered--I guess that includes me--maybe why I like that--probably so.)
I once remember a professional basketball player when asked by his coach to try and perform a certain skill on the playing floor, the player replied "do you know how hard that is to do?" The player didn't even know that his coach was in the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a coach and a player. Hey Bud, know a little history. Go to the Master's and you will see the past has not been forgotten.
I like golf because of the crowds, the people that come to view and support the sport. The father of that ten year old boy this was his 30th time to attend this event. He felt no qualms, reservations about bring his son to this event. He was not going to be embarrassed by those sitting or standing around him as they watched. I remember the first time I attended a baseball game in New York City at Yankee stadium and the behavior of the crowd. Seeing beer poured on people and language that would make a sailor (some) blush. I also remember attending a college basketball game at Princeton University and I could not believe the four letter signs constantly being held up in the student section during the game. Not my idea of entertainment. The only sign I can ever remember seeing at a golf tournament was the many times color hair guy who would often try to standing behind the play and get on camera. You might remember that sign: John 3:16. Personally I have stood in the floor of the Roman coliseum and I am not too sure we are much further along in behavior today.
I further like golf in that one never knows the outcome until the very end. Like life. There can be times in which it looks like "it's all over." Thinking back to the winner's play on that back nine and times it looked just like that. But he kept trying to hit the best shot he could under the circumstances he was in. Another similarity of life: "Just do the best you can with what is given to you at that time."
A friend of mine in an email he sent said about yesterdays Master's : "Great day for all of us who have come short many times." True and a great day for all of us when it looked like we might come up short.
I once heard it said:
"Great moments really aren't great unless they are shared."
For me yesterday sitting in my chair, ice tea close at hand, I watched a great moment in the life of a professional athlete (Matt Kuchar) and then I watched him share his moment with another-----a ten year old kid.....and for me...that also was a great moment.
As the lady said: " I love Matt Kuchar."
Lady...I think we understand why.
April 10th, 2017
Larry AdamsonJust some thoughts: