Oct 11

One of Those Days

Posted By:Matt Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags: PGA

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Photo: Matt Haynes

I made a post on the message boards Friday at lunchtime that i had just had one of the most memorable mornings of my entire life.  Little did I know that I would also have one of the most memorable afternoons of my life. 

I think everyone knows what I mean by one of "those" days.  An example could be driving eight hours to you favorite team's away game, buying tickets for a good price right outside the gate, walking in to find that you're sitting on the 50 yard line, then beating the crap out of the other team.  Its the type of day where things just seem to fall into place, a day you dont forget.  I had one of those days Friday.

I love what I do, but golf course construction wears on you pretty good after a long, hot summer.  Behind schedule and trying to catch up, my company hosted an event that brought Gary Player, the course designer, in to promote our new course here in upstate South Carolina.  The event would include a clinic put on by Mr. player in the morning, followed by a course tour of a few holes in the afternoon. The place is a full blown construction site, so the aesthetices are a little substandard - especially if you are going to be hosting a hundred country club retirees for a walk-through.  This week, it was more than a small chore to get the three nearly completed holes in tip top shape while still making progress in the build.  By Wednesday just about everybody's stress level had reached the max. 

Friday morning I woke up sluggish and tired, headed out the door and stopped for gas on the way.  As I walked out of the gas station I noticed my boss pumping gas at the pump right behind my car. He looked up and said "hey, we gotta meet Jeff and Gary over at the course at seven." Jeff being the head designer for Gary Player Design, and Gary being well....

So, once we got to the shop, I jumped in the truck with the boss and headed over to meet them.  We waited a few minutes and sure enough, at 7:10 a car pulled up with Jeff driving, and Gary Player in the passenger seat.  They park, we get out, they get out, and there I am standing there with Gary Player in the parking lot.  He already knew the other two guys, and I was absolutely shocked to watch him walk straight up to me and tell me that he was excited to be there and asked me my name.  I mean come on, he's 75 years old, just got off a flight from Cape Town, and gives a damn who I am? Man, I thought, what a cool guy...

He went into the Gary Player design office there, grabbed a coffee- which he said was strong enough to kickstart a Boeing - then the four of us set off to look at the course.

Number 10 is completed so we went there first to stand on the elevated tee for Gary get an overall feel of how the course would look.  If today was one of "those" days, then this was one of the defining moments that made up this particular day.  The four of us stood there, sun just coming through the tree line, 58 degrees, a slight haze hovering at the same level we were, and stared for about five minutes.  I'll never forget the words that he kept saying in his sharp South African accent - "Now man, just look at what we have to work with here."  The thing was, he was right.  It was a picture out of Golf Digest without the photoshop modifications, it didnt need them.  It was sweet and we all knew it.

We rode around to several more areas looking and discussing until Mr. Player had to be back at #11 tee to put on a clinic for the members and prospective buyers there for the event. 

The clinic was cool.  He stood on the tee box in front of 50 or so people and drilled them on the importance of staying fit and healthy into their older years.  He told them bluntly  "...if you don't you'll die sooner, simple as that!"  The benefits of wellness that he talked about were hammered home when this 75 year old guy, fresh off an airplane and zero warm up, grabbed his driver and stroked one 230 yards down the middle on his first swing. 

After the clinic ended, it was back to work.  I was on cloud nine, I had just spent the morning with one of golf's great champions, and he was more interested with what we were doing...

The end of the day rolled around and I was almost ready to leave when my phone rang.  It was my boss telling me that Gary wanted to see the rest of the course.  With all the fanfare of clinics and course tours for the members, he had not gotten to give his approval on the front nine.  So, the other assistant and I jumped in our work truck and headed over to #15 tee. There we met up with the shapers that are building the tees, greens, and bunkers...we waited for ten minutes or so then, once again, a truck comes pulling up with Mr. Player in the co-pilot's seat and the designer in tow. 

They all got out and from there it was a walking tour of the rest of the course- 15 through 18, then 1-9. 

Everyone there was amazed at this guy.  He basically drug our asses the whole way around that place, even jogging at times!  We hoofed it around from 3:30 until 7:15, and were completely worn out by the end of the night.  Again, just off a plane, 75 years old...incredible.

So, the day ended and we returned to our shop at about 7:30, laughing and maybe even a little giddy.  On the way home I called everyone that I could think of that might know who Gary Player was.  I had just had one of those days that made me glad I chose the field that I did.  It was one of those days that I will never forget.

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