I finished last week’s Kaddy Korner just before the bottom dropped out of my Ft. Myers flight. My Ginger ale hit the ceiling landing in my lap and the guy sitting behind me asked if his computer hit me in the back of my head, it was also airborne. Next to an emergency landing in San Diego early in my career this was the worst flight experience of my life. As I walked off the plane I thanked the pilot for the exciting ride and the flight attendant said, “It was only a 150 foot drop, you don’t get that at Disneyworld.”

For a week off it was quite eventful. I was looking forward to the Masters, the field was wide open this year and the largest, 99 invitees, since the 1960s. Anyone had a chance and the favorites weren’t a for sure thing. The only thing I was worried about was Dad and his triple bypass surgery scheduled for Tuesday morning. Driving back from Biloxi, MS we found out Dad was having surgery earlier than expected so it was a quick turnaround and back to reality.

Often we’re able to hide a bit from life’s realities while out on tour. Traveling from city to city we escape the daily grind. We hear about folk’s trials and tribulations but often don’t experience them. It’s easy to get lost in your hotel room, on the practice tee, or playing on the course and forget about real life. This week was a real life experience, something I was glad I was there for. My irregular schedule came in handy, it was nice to be there with Mom and Dad, they were there for me during my surgery and recuperation.

The Masters is my big event of the year. It used to be the World Series but strikes, egos, individualism in a team sport and steroids have erased much of my enthusiasm for baseball. Golf is the last true sport bastion, I hope, but this week Dad was more important. Walking into his ICU room Tuesday afternoon I was shocked and the Masters was far from my thoughts. There were 6-8 tubes protruding from his body and monitors everywhere, I’ve seen a few corpses who looked better. His ashen face was swollen and he had no idea we were there. I could care less if Tiger made a comeback or Rory was the next coming of Ben Hogan.

The ten minute visit was enough, Mom and I went home for a nap, she needed a respite from the long day, and actually both of us did. I didn’t even turn on Golf Channel; the Masters was far from my mind. Surgery was less than three hours and all went well but the plan for spending some time with Dad watching the Master while he recuperated was on hold, I just wanted to see him up, moving around and back to life. I was looking forward to spending the next five or six days with Mom and Dad helping out wherever I could, maybe we could sneak a little golf in on the weekend.

During a week on tour you meet a lot of people, usually under relatively benign conditions. There’s always the pro-am foursome for five hours, your bartender at local watering hole, the construction crew staying at the same hotel and the volunteers helping out at every tournament. Casual conversation, laughs, sharing stories and travel experiences are the norm; a week in the hospital is a bit different. Tense moments in the waiting room with strangers definitely outweigh any pressure experienced on the golf course. I’d much rather be pulling clubs trying to win a tournament Sunday afternoon.

We watched most of the Masters while Dad was napping but he got excited watching Rory lead the field and Tiger’s charge on Friday and Sunday. I think it was therapeutic for him, I know it was for me. The only thing better would have been a Cub-Cardinal series on the tube. We brought Dad home Sunday afternoon, tucked him into his recliner and watched Rory’s demise. It was exciting but sad, we all felt for the kid and just before Dad dosed off he said, “it’s too bad the press puts all this pressure on the kid, just let him play golf.”

Dad’s doing well, brother Dan took over nursing duties for the week while I’m in Tampa for the Outback Pro-am with Bob. There’s a lot of positive energy here. Bob won this event a few years ago and Doug Tewell won with me carrying the bag in 2003. It was my first event with Murph in 1993 and he almost won in 1995 but that’s a whole other story.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers this week, they were much needed and greatly appreciated.

 

 

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