Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One Frosty, Cold, Day in Tallahassee

I had an interesting experience in Tallahassee a few months ago. Florida State University was hosting an intercollegiate men's golf tournament at Southwood golf club where I played most of my golf. I noticed a petition for volunteers to help with the tournament and called a phone number listed in the paper and soon had a volunteer job.

Now this was mid-March. You non-north-Floridians most likely think that the weather was warm and tropical with our palm trees gently flowing from a soft gentle breeze. Those of us that live here year round know that the opposite generally holds true January through March. The weather for this tournament was bitter cold. The first day had wind gusts in the 30 mph range and the wind chill was in the teens. I was out there with sweater, jacket, gloves and thermal underwear.

My job was pretty simple. I was to drive a 6 passenger golf cart between green and tee box on particular holes. I generally had a threesome of players from the 12 universities participating. I loved rubbing shoulders with them and shooting off my big mouth. To me it was a mitigated carnival atmosphere. Shuttling the players helped to move the pace of play.

On the second day that I was there, I drove to the course to start my shift by 7:00 AM. Once I got there I found that there was a frost delay 'til 8:00 AM. In order to fill my time for an hour, I went up to the practice tee to watch the players warm up.
I spoke to several parents and friends of players watching their golfer. I welcomed them to Tallahassee, asked about their player and made general chit chat. They didn't know for certain that I was not some tournament official so everyone made nice to the old geezer, entertaining my arcane questions and comments. Until I came to this one older couple.

The man was in his late 60's to his early 70's. I said to him, " Welcome to Tallahassee. Are you enjoying your stay? Where are you from? Who is your golfer?" The man turned towards me as if his neck was stiff from sleeping on a strange pillow. He had a snow white cardigan sweater on and enormous cigar clenched in his teeth. He did not speak to me or acknowledge my presence for one split second. As a matter of fact he looked as if it was taking all he could do to restrain himself from expectorating on me. The BIGGGGGGG FREEEEEZE ! I felt like a complete doofus.

Almost instantaneously his wife jumped into the conversation. She was as ebbulient as he was condescending. She advised me that they were from Sarasota and were in Tallahassee to follow their grandson who was a North Carolina golfer. She was a lovely lady with a confident and pleasant air and I felt better. She was obviously trying to make amends for the frosty treatment this man had given me.

I made my way to the snack bar and got a drink and a snack readying myself for my shift. Mike, the Southwood golf pro, came over to sit a moment and visit. During our visit this couple walked by. I asked Mike who the old guy in the white cardigan was. He responded with do your remember the name Tony Jacklin? I thought for a moment and I said sure. Didn't he win the British Open in about 1970? He did. He was also the lead player on the 1969 European team that won the Ryder cup in a brilliant performance. I told Mike about the experience on the practice tee and he said that was a shame. I responded to him that I didn't mind. Can you just imagine how many people interupt him around golf courses when they find out who he is.

I later told my wife the story and she of course never heard of him and categorized his demeanor as unacceptable, no matter who he was. I told her, " He is Tony Jacklin, a living legend. If I was him, I would probably act just the same way." She told me that no I wouldn't. I was a pronounced people person and no matter the other person's station in life I would treat them kindly, because that was just the sort of person you are. He on the other hand is a jerk." I really couldn't argue with her.

No comments: