Anyone who loves the game of golf as much as I do has to agree that we just experienced a weekend that defines the sport for all that it is. On the PA Tour a 44-year-old guy named Ken Duke won his first check for over $1 million at the Traveler’s Championship in Connecticut, which was huge.
What makes that special is that Duke started his pro career in 1994 and it was his first win in – what? – 187 starts. "I've knocked on the door a lot and here we are," he said, his belief in himself never wavering in the last 19 years. “You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do. That's why those guys at the top are winning week in, week out, because they believe they can do it. It's kind of one of those things once you finally do it, it might come easier the next time. That's kind of the way I feel.”
I wonder how he’ll feel writing “For Deposit Only” on the back of the winner’s check for $1,098,000? How about that for persistence?
“But, yeah, it's been a long time," said Duke, who turned pro in 1994. "I've been on the Canadian tour, the mini tours, Asian Tour, South American Tour, all of them; Web.com, and it's just great to be a part of this big family on the PGA Tour."
* * *
Another drought ended on the Champions Tour when Craig Stadler, age 60, birdied four of the first six holes at the Encompass Tournament in Glenview, Ill., to snap an eight-year, nine-month span since he has walked in the winner’s circle. It is the longest time between wins in the history of the Champions Tour.
As happens in the game, “The Walrus” couldn’t find a birdie putt on the back side before he nailed the 18th, which made him a one-stroke winner over Fred Couples.
* * *
Closer to home, Chattanooga’s Brooke Pancake, who was the nation’s Top Collegiate Female Golfer last year as an All-American at the University of Alabama, had three rounds of under-par golf (69-67-70) in the LPGA’s Northwest Arkansas tournament to finish five strokes off the leader and win $32,258.
Brooke’s total earning are now $40,195, which is on track to yield considerable more than most first-year marketing majors who have graduated from Alabama. She played for Baylor in high school.
* * *
Kudos to The Honors Course for awarding defending U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox an honorary membership at a banquet Saturday night. The event was part of the Tennessee Golf Association’s centennial celebration and it was lost on no one that The Circle of Honor at the Ooltewah club contains some of the greatest amateurs in the state’s colorful history.
* * *
The best golf joke making the rounds is about a U.S. citizen vacationing in Ireland. He decides to play a round of golf and is paired with three local gents. He takes a few practice swings, steps up to the first tee, and proceeds to hook the ball out of bounds. He shakes his head, reaches in his pocket, and re-tees another ball.
He tells his playing partners that he is taking a Mulligan. He pounds one down the center of the fairway about 280 yards out. With a big smile, he asks the others "In the U.S., we call that a Mulligan; was wondering what you called it here in Ireland."
After a moment of silence, one of the locals replies evenly, "Hitting three."
* * *
Four really old men went into the pro shop after playing 18 holes of golf.
The pro asked, "Did you guys have a good game today?"
The first old guy said, "Yes, I had three riders today."
The second old guy said, "I had the most riders ever. I had five."
The third old guy said, "I had seven riders, the same as last time."
The last old man said, "I beat my old record. I had 12 riders today."
After they went into the locker room, another golfer who had heard the old guys talking about their game went to the pro and said, "I've been playing golf for a long time and thought I knew all the terminology of the game, but what's a rider?"
The pro said, "A rider is when you hit the ball far enough to actually get in the golf cart and ride to it."
* * *
Golf – what a great game.
- Photo2 by LPGA