Reflecting on my first two tournaments of 2011

As I reflect on my last few weeks, I must say that I’m very happy that I have been able to play in the first two full field events of the year.  Nothing works like playing and putting your game under the pressure of competition to see where you stand. I’ve gotten in better golf shape by walking every day and practicing efficiently over the past three weeks.  This is the best way to start the year.

These are the highlights of the last few weeks that have made me very thankful, grateful, and appreciative for all the blessings of my life.

Having my wife and family visit was so nice for me because I spent much of the past month in Florida preparing for the year.  John, Carl, and I were able to play lots of golf at Grey Oaks, which was tremendous for me to have quality time with my boys in a great setting. John and Carl had a wonderful time together playing when I wasn’t able to play.

Representing Grey Oaks has been one of the best experiences for me and my family:  We have met many new friends. I was able to participate in the Men’s Invitational, along with the great staff of Grey Oaks allowing me to forge many new friendships with them as well.  What I have found is that people are so thoughtful, and I’ve told many people that have befriended me that if you want a friend you must be a friend.  I’ve been so fortunate to have so many new people that have shown me this great quality, and I’m very grateful.  Ed and Shirley Menefee took my whole family in for the final four days of the tournament when all the hotels were sold out.  In spite being big Tennessee fans we got along quite well.  My boys and I played with Ed on the Palm course at Grey Oaks, and I think his advice has spurred me on to what might be the greatest year of my golfing career.  Ed gave me a Tennessee Ball in all its orange splendor, commenting that this Volunteer will take you to the top! All you have to do is keep it in the bag.  My brother Albert, who was caddying for me, almost threw it out, teasing Ed that It needed to be renewed after my poor start on the first day of the ACE Classic.

Albert, has caddied for me on and off for about ten years in my career. We have always been close and I’ve always enjoyed working with Albert because he is never discouraged , but most importantly knows me so well he knows how to keep me moving in a positive direction in spite of difficulty. We won the Buick Open on the regular tour in 1990 together, and we always have a very good time together.  I love being with him, because a party doesn’t begin in our family until Albert is present.

To bring all the challenges and difficulties of the past few weeks into the proper perspective; Sunday I played well however finished 60th, which was very disappointing after a good showing at the Allianz Championship.  A father came up to me asking for an autograph for his son, which I was very happy to ablidge him, only to see his down syndrome son approach me, so happy to receive the autograph, I gave him my favorite hat which lit up his face in such a joyful way I was emotionally touched by his goodness and love of life. Children can pull at our heart strings sometimes like no other experience.

Finally,on the way home to Chicago, I received a Facebook comment that made me very sad. Bob Boyd had passed away after he rejected his second bone marrow transplant.  Bob finished second to me in high school in our conference tournament. He was from Wilmington, along with me being from Fayetteville, the last two years we played many rounds of golf together, therefore,  I got to know him very well. As Bob went through school at Maryland, became head pro at various clubs throughout the Carolinas, won the National Club Pro Championship along with many many championships, I was always blessed with his passion for life, love of the game, but most importantly , his engaging personality, which was so gentle and warm. I will always be impressed with everything he accomplished, however, his greatest legacy will be all the people he touched/engaged every day with his compassionate, effervescent personality.  We will miss you, Bob! I will always have warm loving feelings when I think of all the joy that you brought me in my life.  God bless each and every person that is so fortunate to affect others in such a positive manner, and live their lives in the proper manner.