Last Sunday night I had the privilege of entertaining a large group of wounded warriors, their spouses, other guests and leadership at The Legacy Lodge at Lanier Islands on Lake Lanier in Buford, Georgia. Lordy, that’s a lot of L’s. Try saying that three times or half a time if you’re a stuttering guy like me.
I was there from Sunday through Tuesday. There was a fundraising golf tournament Monday. It was a scramble, with each team comprised of three real golfers who paid to play and then a warrior like me. Hey, I’m no warrior. I’m just an Army guy, but warrior is what they called us. I’m sure some of the warriors were real golfers too. Quite frankly I suck at golf but I sure do love playing, even when it’s raining.
The tournament was the 10th annual Warrior Classic and I was put on a team with three people I didn’t know. That wasn’t anything to me. I meet new people every day. There is one requirement, however. People have to be present for me to meet them and none of the other three showed up. I reckon the rain scared them away. It’s OK, though. They still contributed financially to the organization. Dave, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, president and founder of the foundation, stuck me on another team with a guy named Chad.
Chad’s father served with Dave in the Army and both are Vietnam veterans. Their families go back 50 years. I was blessed to ride shotgun with him. Chad was a great guy and also an incredible golfer. I lost a ball on my first swing of the day. That’s how good I am.
If you don’t know what a scramble is, it goes like this: All four members of the team hit the ball from the tee box. After that, everyone plays from the spot of the best shot of the team. To put that into perspective and to illustrate my lack of prowess on the golf course, we used my ball twice.
One was a somewhat short putt following a horrendous start to the hole. I found myself in the woods not once but twice. I was usually the first to putt so that the other guys could read the line. I can’t really do that. I just go up there like Bob Barker, putt it and hope I win a prize. I made that particular putt and took the pressure off them. Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I was a part of a great team. Along with Chad, there was an exceptional young man named Sam and another gentleman named Fay who, according to him, was “over 50.” Fay went to school at Auburn and claimed it as his hometown. War Eagle!
My other shot was a fairly good one that involved a lot of water. The other three shots by my teammates got wet while mine made it across the lake into the middle of the fairway. It was real and it was spectacular. Had we won by one stroke, that would have made the difference in us winning and not winning. We actually came in third out of 36 teams. That’s good but I really had little to do with it. I was just on a good team. I guess I had my place. We all do when we’re part of a team.
The winner was led by former Olympic gold medalist and Auburn track and field star Harvey Glance. The man is 62 years old and still in tip-top shape. He could beat me in a race with both feet tied behind his back. Harvey is a great guy too.
It drizzled and misted on us most of the day. For the most part, we played through it but at one point we took a 30-minute break on a par 5 due to a heavy downpour. We’d hit our balls toward the green just prior to halting play. Chad’s shot actually made it onto the edge of the green but was a good 90 feet from the cup. So he was on in two with a slim chance for an eagle.
The rain let up and we rolled back down to the par 5. There was what appeared to be a 4-foot wide river running right through the middle of the green. We were just going to pick up our balls and call it a par due to the hazard.
“Hey, Sam, are there eagles up here?” I asked. “I think I may have heard one earlier.”
Meanwhile, from 90 feet away, Chad putted. It rolled and rolled and rolled. It rolled right through the river directly into the cup.
“Yes. Yes, there are,” Sam replied. Then we all went crazy! There were high fives all around.
A valuable lesson was learned there. You don’t pick up your ball and go home when things aren’t going your way. Like a warrior, you play. You always play, even through the rain.