“There is no place on earth even remotely like New Orleans.”- the late Anthony Bourdain
This week’s piece has the chance to be the worst one I’ve ever written. Out of respect and privacy for the people involved (some quite high profile) along with the ever fluid Covid protocols, many details will remain only in my memory. But I’ll do my best to tell a good story.
Also, sometimes you just get lucky. Maybe my curiosity and desire to LIVE help a little, but truthfully, sometimes you just get lucky.
My job as a walking scorer at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week was to walk inside the ropes with my assigned players, providing real-time scoring that is disseminated all over the world. Also, if there was any weird situation that the players encountered out on the course, I was their lifeline to central command.
I had three must-do’s. Be accurate. Be timely. Be invisible. The first two? No problem. The last one? Easier said then done.
To try and blend in, I dressed in the mandatory uniform, but…
One of my professionals in Wednesday’s much more laid back Pro-Am grew up roughly an hour away from where I did. This, combined with him being known as one of the friendliest players on tour, provided an easy opening for me to simply say hello. After he hit his opening tee shot, we found ourselves walking close to each other, so I took the opportunity to say hello and tell him where I was born and raised (shout out Wingate). I cannot print what he said back to me, but I can tell you that it made me laugh out loud. I can also tell you that it began a wonderful conversation that ended about six hours later. (Great job being invisible, Benj.)
He asked me why I left Charlotte, so I told him. We talked about people we both knew and some of our favorite restaurants. We talked Carolina Panthers. The whole group talked golf, soccer, and our kids.
Soon enough, the pranks started. Then came the jokes. The players and caddies were kind enough to let me in on all of it. Before the end of the day, I don’t think a magician could have made me invisible.
On Thursday’s first day of competition, it was the complete opposite. Different players. Different personalities. Everyone was cordial. Everyone was focused. I was invisible, which after Wednesday, I kind of liked. I was asked to do a job, so I did it.
Over the two days, I was able to be a fan for a couple of hours, roaming the course, the range, and the practice area taking it all in. I interacted closely with six professionals and six caddies. All of them were cordial, 70% were nice, and 40% were downright awesome!
Four of the players were ranked as one of the best 85 golfers on this planet, and therein lied my focus. As amazing and fun and lucky and whatever else was that I experienced, especially on Wednesday, I was there to learn. That’s why I threw my name in the hat. To watch and listen (and even ask a few questions) to decipher why each one was a Top 85 player on Planet Earth.
At the end of each round, I received kind words, fist bumps, a signed ball, or a signed glove (I did not request these). I got a crazy cool lifetime memory. But most important for me along my personal golf journey, I saw and heard what details were a given, really didn’t matter, and really freaking did. To the best players in the world.
It was like learning a new language in 48 hours.
Have a great week.-Benj
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