Monthly Archives: March 2017

Arnie: The Life of Arnold Palmer by Tom Callahan

Literary Loop

ArnieIn this definitive biography, veteran sportswriter Tom Callahan shines a spotlight on one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game.

The winner of more than 90 championships, including four Masters Tournaments, Arnold Palmer was a legend in 20th century sports: a supremely gifted competitor beloved for his powerful hitting, his nerve on the greens and his great rapport with fans. Perhaps above all others, Palmer was the reason golf’s popularity exploded, as the King of the links helped define golf’s golden age along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

In addition to his talent on the golf course, Palmer was a brilliant entrepreneur and one of the first sportsmen to create his own successful marketing brand. Forging an alliance with sports agent Mark McCormick, Palmer parlayed his popularity into lucrative deals and helped pave the way for the multi-million-dollar contracts that have become standard for stars across all sports. But beyond his golf success and business acumen, Palmer was a larger-than-life character, and Arnie recounts a host of unforgettable anecdotes from a long life in the spotlight.

Tom Callahan knew Palmer well for many years, and now pays tribute to this golfing icon. Filled with great stories from the key people in Palmer’s life, Arnie is an entertaining and illuminating portrait of a remarkable man and his extraordinary legacy.

 

Glass Menagerie

People
Carol Ayer

Photos courtesy of CarolAnn Ayer

When most people look at a shoe, they see a shoe. (Even if it’s a great, to-die-for shoe, it’s still a shoe.) Same thing with a door. Or an instrument. For CarolAnn Ayer, however, the world and everything in it are a canvas. 

And they’re all deserving of being turned into a work of art with her stained glass and mosaic talents. CarolAnn has been creating stained glass artwork since she made her first panel in a class at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in 1983, but she developed her passion for mosaic more recently.

Creative-Guitar“Four years ago, mosaic became a trend in the art world, so I picked it up,” she says. “I want to mosaic everything now. I’ve done a lot of arts and crafts through the years, and these stuck.”

Feeding the Habit
CarolAnn, who lived in Columbia County for 30 years and worked as a paraprofessional at Harlem High School for four years, has a home filled with her artwork.

While she primarily creates stained glass and mosaic pieces for her early 20th century home, she makes things for friends and family as well. She also does commissioned pieces, and she sells some of her work at Schweitzer Art Glass in Waynesboro “to generate money to feed the habit.” She will have a dual show with local artist Cole Smith at the Waynesboro studio from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday, April 23.

Creative_BustTo create her artwork, CarolAnn works out of a room in her home where shelves are filled with glass panes; jars full of tile, glass and stone pieces; glass cutters; adhesives; grout and even Band-Aids.

“It’s not a difficult art. It’s just very time consuming and detailed,” says CarolAnn. “And you get a lot of cuts on your fingers.”

Future projects such as a high heel sit on the shelves and instruments are propped against a wall, waiting to be transformed from the ordinary to the sublime. She also keeps a supply of the materials she needs to prepare everyday objects for their metamorphosis into works of art. For instance, she’ll wrap the shoe in mesh and cover it in plaster of paris to shape it. She’ll sand the instruments before she adheres glass pieces to them. “They’re glossy,” she says of the instruments, “so you have to rough them up so the pieces can stick to them.”

Creative-College-stonesSometimes, however, CarolAnn takes her work outside. “The sun helps. It gives it a better picture of the colors. Sometimes there’s a right side and a wrong side of the glass,” she says.

Trial and Error
CarolAnn says the choice of glass determines whether a project becomes stained glass or mosaic art. Often working by trial and error, she likes coming up with ideas and picking the glass and colors for each project.

Creative-Crosses“I’ve always been attracted to color. I like being able to create something beautiful,” says CarolAnn. “It’s a lot like painting. When you paint, you have to know where to shade, where to put the dark and where to put the light to get the contrast you need.”

She even enjoys the inevitable struggle that comes with creating art. “There’s always a dilemma. What color am I going to use for the grout? That can change the whole look of a piece,” says CarolAnn. “The creative part takes me a little longer, but once I get it, you can’t stop me. For any artist, the creative process is what drives you. It’s in your heart and in your soul.”

CarolAnn, who also is a caterer and formerly owned Old Towne Inn and Fox’s Lair until she retired in July 2016, works on her art every day. She works at least four hours a day and sometimes all day. She usually works on more than one piece at a time to take the monotony out of the process, and it took her a month to make a mosaic mirror that hangs in her bathroom.

Creative-Parrot-window-trioOther pieces in her home include a stained glass window in her kitchen and a stained glass door to a spice rack, a space that once housed an ironing board, on a kitchen wall. She also made a stained glass screen out of a French door, and she plans to hang it on her side porch. Mirrors, cremation boxes for pets and instruments are some of her favorite canvases for her artwork.

“I’m trying to find a big bass to do, and I haven’t done a banjo. I’ve done all the other instruments,” says CarolAnn, who comes from a family of musicians. 

Some of her pieces have personal significance. For instance, she made a female torso clad in a denim dress with her husband in mind. “I wore a blue jean dress on our first date, so I did that for him,” CarolAnn says.

Creative-DragonflySources of Inspiration
CarolAnn constantly learns new things about her crafts. She often visits the Mosaic Mentoring site on Facebook, which has members from all across the world, for ideas and encouragement.

“Artists are generous with their time and information,” says CarolAnn. However, she adds, “You can look at other’s people work, but you have to be very careful not to copy other people’s work.”

She also draws inspiration from magazines, photographs and nature. “Artists see nature in a different way. You tend to study things more closely,” she says.

In homage to her love of nature, she even covers animal skulls in glass. The first two skulls she ever did were found locked together in the woods by a friend.

CarolAnn says she sees “everything as mosaic” now, and she often wonders what attracts a person to a piece of art.

“When I make something for someone else, I hope they cherish it,” she says. “It takes a lot of time to do a piece, but it’s worth it.”

For more information, visit CarolAnn’s Facebook page, Designs in Glass.

By Leigh Howard

Photos courtesy of CarolAnn Ayer

Live from the Fox Oakland — Tedeschi Trucks Band

Listen To This

Listen-to-This-April--2017Many of you may remember a quaint music venue and all-around hangout spot on Walton Way called the Red Lion Pub. Back in the day, the Red Lion showcased up-and-coming artists, but one act that shines above most was the Derek Trucks Band.

Derek, nephew of the late, great Butch Trucks — founder and drummer of the Allman Brothers Band — started jamming early and became a guitar prodigy by age 11. He was no more than 16 when his Red Lion audience would stand in awe of his shredability. Derek later became a member of the Allman Brothers Band and ultimately co-front with his wife, Susan Tedeschi, who is also a product of music royalty, in the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Known for its Southern-soul-kicking-revival jams, Tedeschi Trucks Band has flourished into quite the lineup of veteran jam-mates, and after paying some dues on the road, they are releasing a double album live experience that is nothing short of bombastic. Live from the Fox Oakland is plucked directly from the soundboard at the famous Fox Theater in Oakland, California during the band’s 2016 West Coast tour.

This recording captures every aspect of musical depth the band brings to every show. The group has a knack for custom fitting the music to the venue, and this particular show brings the raw and intimate, covered with groove butter. If you are not familiar with their music, not to worry. There is a familiar chord that reverberates throughout, and I think that chord is “Southern comfort.”

- Chris Rucker

Relay for Life

Community Groups in Action

Relay for LifeA cancer diagnosis is frightening for anyone, but people who battle the disease – and their loved ones – don’t have to do it alone. They can find plenty of support at Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser, from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at Evans Towne Center Park.

“There is virtually no family in the world that hasn’t been touched by cancer,” says Gregory Tsikerdanos, the Relay for Life community manager. “The relay is a culmination of a yearlong fundraising effort. While it is an American Cancer Society event, it truly is a community event as well.”

Relay for LifeThis year’s Star Wars-based theme is “May the Cure Be with You,” and about 48 teams are expected to participate in the event. The fundraising goal is $175,005 – an amount that covers costs for patients that need transportation to and from treatments. 

The event will include opening and closing ceremonies, a survivors’ lap, a caregivers’ lap and laps throughout the event by team members to represent the ongoing battle against cancer. Teams will set up camps and continue fundraising efforts by collecting donations for food, goods, games and activities. A luminaria ceremony, which gives people a chance to grieve but also offers hope and comfort, will begin at sunset. Each luminaria bag represents a loved one lost to cancer, and the ceremony also honors survivors and supports those affected by the disease.

Relay for Life“Our goal is to raise awareness about cancer as well as about research and development, treatments, cures and services for those with cancer and their caregivers,” says Tsikerdanos. “We hope to save lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.” 

For more information, visit relay.acsevents.org.

Paddle Up

Sports
Photography by Addie Strozier

Photography by Addie Strozier

With about 1,000 people from 12 states and 800-plus vessels on the Savannah River for the Benderdinker in 2016, last year’s paddle was the most successful one yet. And the popular event, scheduled for Saturday, April 29, seems to expand every year. 

“We expect to continue growing and getting people involved in this thriving community of kayakers,” say Kristina Williams, the Benderdinker founder. 

The Benderdinker once again will include a leisurely, noncompetitive trek on the Savannah River, where paddlers can stop and listen to music and sample locally sourced snacks (think pork/veggie tamales and roasted or boiled peanuts) along the six-mile route. And along with communing with nature, paddlers can enjoy the camaraderie of fellow rowers aboard kayaks, canoes or standup paddle boards as well. 

Once paddlers have completed the route, there is no need to pack up and go home. An on-land festival will include games such as pickup volleyball, corn hole, giant tic-tac-toe, ladder golf, mini disc golf and bocce ball. Vendors will offer demos of their products and sell food. Paddlers ages 21 and older can quench their thirst with craft beer. 

The music will continue at the festival, and a Nashville duo, Me & Molly, is returning this year to headline the musicians that will perform.

Benderdinker registration is available online through Sunday, April 23, and check-in will be held 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, April 28 and 8-10 a.m. Saturday, April 29. Latecomers also can register online through midnight Friday, April 28 or in person at check-in Friday night or until 11:45 a.m. the day of the event. Sorry, no T-shirts or goodie bags for procrastinators.

If You Go:

What: Benderdinker 

When: Saturday, April 29; paddle launches 10-11:30 a.m.; Riverfest noon-5 p.m.

Where: Riverside Park at Betty’s Branch, Evans

How Much: $40 per vessel. Cost to rent kayak or canoe is not included. Food, beer and other beverages will be available for purchase at the festival.

More Info: benderdinker.com

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Garden Scene
Photos courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

Photos courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

2017 has been named Year of the Rose, and whether your thumb is green or black, now’s the perfect time to fall in love with America’s national flower. 

Not long ago, roses were widely considered finicky, difficult to grow, prone to disease, sparse on flower production and apt to lose their leaves to stress. Frankly, roses seemed more trouble than they were worth for many American gardeners. But not anymore.

Due to new breeding work, today’s roses are much easier to grow than older varieties. They have been bred for vigor, disease resistance and controlled growth, meaning much less work for home gardeners. In fact, most roses can thrive in our area with the proper care. 

And because roses grow well here, we’re not limited in our choices. It simply comes down to personal preference. There are many classes of roses, which sometimes can lead to some confusion. The ones most commonly grown here include:

  • Hybrid Tea — the classic, long stemmed varieties
  • Grandiflora — similar to Hybrid Tea, but usually have several blooms per stem
  • Floribunda —  more compact and multi-flowered
  • Miniature — smaller specimens, often grown in containers as gifts
  • Climbing — good for fence lines and trellises
  • Landscape or shrub — once considered a hodge-podge of varieties that did not fit any of the other categories. These now make up about half of the market and have led a revolution in the landscape.
  • Heirloom/heritage — produced by boutique nurseries

Rose_MyGirl_EasyEleganceRosesReady, Set, Grow
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a flower expert to grow your own roses. Here are some helpful tips to get you started. 

• April and May are good months to plant most roses here. You can plant them almost any time — even in July or August — but you’ll have to give them a little more TLC. They need a deep root system, and the roots may not be as established.

• Decide if you want the style of your rose garden to be formal, country casual, personal or a landscape design. You can get great ideas from garden tours, magazines, professional landscapers and the Internet. 

• Choose an area that is well drained and will not have competition from tree roots or shrubs. Beds raised with railroad ties or bricks provide the best drainage for heavy soils. Also choose a location that allows plants to be placed three to four feet from each other. 

Rose_HighVoltage_EasyEleganceRoses• Select a spot that receives six hours or more of direct sunlight each day. Without six to eight hours of full sun, your roses will have fewer flowers and long, leggy, weak stems with a higher likelihood of disease.

• Consider the height of your roses. If you plan on planting several different rose varieties, you’ll want to arrange the roses with the tallest in the back of the garden.

• Suppliers sell roses as bare-root, packaged bare-root (also known as tube) or container grown. Inspect the plant before you buy, looking for sturdy, fibrous roots and firm green stems. You want a healthy-looking leaf and strong stems to your blooms.

• Prepare the soil and then fertilize your roses according to soil test results. Soil preparation is an important part of rose care and includes several steps. Before you plant the roses, you’ll want to consult a nursery or a rosarian on the perfect way to prepare your roses’ new home. The Augusta Rose Society (theaugustarosesociety.org) often offers educational programs and rose clinics at local garden centers, and reputable nurseries have helpful resources on hand for the rose novice.

Rose_Snowdrift2_EasyEleganceRoses• Water roses deeply (don’t just wet the leaves) two to three times per week in the summer, but don’t deluge them. There should not be any standing water left over. One to two inches of mulch will help conserve water and keep feeder roots cool.

• Roses appreciate a deep watering during dry spells, and drip irrigation is ideal to avoid diseases caused by wet foliage. The three most common diseases on roses are black spot, rust and powdery mildew, with humidity being the worst cause. 

• Spray roses weekly to prevent fungus diseases like blackspot. Roses are more susceptible to fungi in our area because of the high humidity, but using a combination insecticide-fungicide spray on a regular basis helps cut down on the problem. 

• Prune roses in the dormant season to ensure healthy flowers during the blooming season. Wear garden gloves and use pruning shears to cut back one-fourth to one-third of last year’s branches. Also remove any dead or diseased branches. Most roses have their big, main flush of color the end of April to the beginning of May. They will bloom sporadically throughout the summer and then have another big flush of flowers in the fall.

Seizing the Limelight

Guide to The Masters

DANNY WILLETEnglishman Danny Willett capitalized on final-round, back-nine miscues by defending champion Jordan Spieth to win the 2016 Masters Tournament

You have to hand it to the Willett boys. They certainly know how to make an entrance.

Englishman Danny Willett peeled off the white pullover he had worn all day just before tapping in his par putt on the 72nd hole of last year’s Masters Tournament to reveal a green shirt underneath. (“I was quite warm,” he later explained. “Plus, I thought a little bit of the green looked better than white.”) Fittingly, courtesy of his three-shot Masters victory, he also was about to add another piece of greenery to his wardrobe. 

Across the pond his brother, P.J., live-tweeted his way onto the global stage with a series of wickedly witty lines down the stretch of the tournament’s final round. (“Green makes you look fat, refuse the jacket,” he advised the soon-to-be Masters champion in a show of brotherly love. Who says the Willett brothers aren’t fashion conscious?)

5.-Par-3-CaddiesYet neither brother could have seized his moment in the limelight without the impeccable timing of Danny Willett’s newborn son, Zachariah. Due on April 10, aka Masters Sunday, the littlest Willett boy arrived 12 days early (“Hello, world,” he said with his debut.) to clear the way for his dad to play in the Masters.

Willett had said he wouldn’t play if the baby had not yet been born by the start of the tournament. “Fortunately enough, (he) listened to my prayers and came early,” he said. The new father was the last of the 89 players in the field to register, arriving the Monday night before the tournament began. On Sunday night, Willett, who finished the tournament at 5-under-par, was the last man standing after he held off runners-up, Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, and fellow countryman, Lee Westwood. 

“It’s just been the most ridiculously awesome 12 days, I guess,” Willett said. “Words can’t describe what I’m feeling.”

2.-courseGreat Expectations
Last year 20 first-time players, including 14 professionals and six amateurs, were part of the field. The field also included Evans resident Vaughn Taylor, who was playing in the Masters for the first time since 2008, and Aiken’s Kevin Kisner, who was making his first Masters appearance. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, expectations were high for the top three players in the world at the time – Jason Day, Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Golfers such as Rickie Fowler and former Masters champions Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson were among the favorites to win the year’s first major as well. However, as Billy Payne, Augusta National Club Golf and Masters chairman, attested, they were not the only ones who were feeling the weight of expectations during Masters Week.

“Our founders, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, set incredibly high standards as they continuously, obsessively mandated that our tournament be better every year. And believe me, I’ve learned over the past 10 years that that’s a very difficult thing to do,” Payne said during his annual Wednesday morning press conference. “But we try very hard to meet the already very high expectations of the players, our patrons, our millions of fans around the world and the press. And hopefully this year will be another very successful year.”

4.-Par-3-ScoreboardThe tournament introduced technological advances such as live broadcasting of Amen Corner in 4K ultra high definition last year, but, said Payne, Augusta National made no major changes to the golf course.

On Wednesday afternoon patrons flocked to the Par 3 Contest, and the players rewarded them with record-breaking performances. Jimmy Walker won the Par 3, setting a scoring record by shooting an 8-under-par 19. Walker’s hole-in-one on the second hole was one of nine for the day, which shattered the previous mark of five.

Justin Thomas and Fowler, playing in a threesome with Spieth, had back-to-back aces on No. 4. The gallery good-naturedly booed the defending champion when he couldn’t match his playing partners with a hole-in-one of his own. He didn’t seem to mind, however. “It might have been the hardest shot I ever had to hit trying to follow them. That was so much fun,” Spieth said. “It was fun being the spectator in the group today.”

Gary Player, 80, was one of three golfers to ace the seventh hole, making him the oldest person to make a hole-in-one in the Par 3.

3.-Jordan-SpiethTime-Honored Traditions
The Masters got underway Thursday morning with its customary beginning when honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Player hit ceremonial drives on the first tee. Even though health reasons prevented him from swinging a club, four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer, clad in his green jacket, joined them.

“We were delighted to have him there,” said Nicklaus. “I think both Gary and I felt it was more about Arnold this morning than anything else, and I think that was just fine.”

Player agreed. “It was nice to have him on the tee. I dedicated my first tee shot to him in respect,” he added.

Later that morning two-time green jacket winner Tom Watson, playing in his 43rd and final Masters, continued a personal Masters tradition of his own. He placed an egg salad sandwich on the bench at the 13th tee to honor his late caddie and friend, Bruce Edwards. The gesture became a Masters custom for Watson after his caddie died of ALS at age 49 on the morning of the first round of the 2004 Masters.

“He loved to caddie, and he loved to caddie here more than any place in the world,” Watson said.

The weather was a factor on the tournament’s opening day as blustery conditions, with wind gusts of 30 to 35 mph, confounded players all day long. However, the first round of the 2016 Masters ended just like the finish of the 2015 tournament – with Spieth, who won two years ago in wire-to-wire fashion, atop the leaderboard. He carded a bogey-free 66 to lead the Masters outright for the fifth straight round.

“I would have signed for 2-under today and not even played the round, knowing the conditions that were coming up. Got a lot out of the round with what I felt like was kind of average-ish ball striking,” Spieth said.

Willett finished the first round with a share of ninth place, shooting a 2-under-par 70.

The winds continued Friday, and only a foursome of players, including McIlroy, shot under par. All four of them carded a 1-under 71. Spieth shot 74 to maintain a one-stroke lead over McIlroy.

Willett was tied for eighth place and even for the tournament after shooting a 2-over-par 74 in the second round.

6.-Umbrellas“You look at the conditions. It’s not really American conditions, you know,” said Willett. “It’s tough enough at the best of times, but they try to make it a little trickier, and you put 20 to 30 mile an hour winds in there, and it’s brutal. And you’ve just got to stand there and commit to golf shots and hope that you don’t get too many bad gusts on the wrong holes.”

At the end of the second round, 57 players made the cut of 6-over-par 150. Tom Watson finished the first two rounds at 8-over to miss the cut by two strokes.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to play here and have fans,” he said after the round. “I hope I entertained some fans here or the patrons here. And I appreciate their applause for me and how they treated me today out there. It was really pretty special.”

The Masters got its dream pairing – even though it was a day early – when Spieth and McIlroy played together in the final group on a windy Saturday. The head-to-head matchup didn’t live up to the hype, however, after McIlroy shot 77 without a single birdie.

“I was always trying to get something going, and I just couldn’t. . . . It was very difficult out there and very difficult to trust what you were doing,” he said.

Spieth led at the end of third round after shooting 1-over-par 73, finishing with a bogey on No. 17 and a double bogey on No. 18. He held a one-stroke lead over Smylie Kaufman, who played his way into the final group on Sunday with a 69. Hideki Matsuyama and 58-year-old Bernhard Langer were two strokes behind Spieth, who held the Masters lead for the seventh consecutive round – a tournament record.

“I played better than I scored today,” said Spieth. “It was a really tough finish to go from holding a four-shot lead and being in a very similar position to last year to where all of a sudden, now it’s anyone’s game.”

Willett shot 72 in the third round, leaving him at even par for the tournament and, at T5 with Day and Dustin Johnson, three shots behind Spieth.

“I’m kind of expecting to stay five or six . . . back going into the last day, in with a reasonable chance. But you’re going to have to do something special,” Willett said. “Even if you’re hitting it really well, you still got to make putts on these greens.”

Ready to Pounce
For the final round Willett was paired with Westwood, who barely qualified for the tournament after sneaking into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings in the last week of December 2015.

“I’ve played a lot with Lee over the last couple of years since joining (sports management company) ISM. I couldn’t have asked for a better pairing, really, for a Sunday in a major when you’re both in contention,” Willett said.

The winds finally died down on Sunday, and the roars from the gallery, which had been relatively quiet the first three days of the tournament, picked up – especially at No. 16. Shane Lowry, Davis Love III and Louis Oosthuizen had holes-in-one at the par-3 hole. Oosthuizen had the most remarkable ace of the three after his golf ball bumped the ball of his playing partner, J.B. Holmes, on its way into the hole.

“I saw my ball pitch in a good spot to have a chance and then I saw J.B.’s ball and I thought, ‘Oh, there goes the chance of a one.’ And then I just really watched the crowd and walking up there I could see one was in there obviously really close, and the other one is in,” Oosthuizen said. “So I was just hoping that it was my ball that was in and not J.B.’s because then neither of us would have a hole-in-one. He would have had to move his ball back.”

Meanwhile, Spieth was birdieing No. 2. He continued his fast start with birdies at holes six through nine, and the one-stroke lead he had to start the final round had ballooned to a five-shot margin.

On the back nine, however, Spieth’s round came undone. He bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 before splashing two shots into Rae’s Creek for a quadruple bogey on No. 12, dropping him to 1-under. Suddenly and improbably, the five-shot lead that Spieth had built up on the front nine had turned into a four-stroke deficit after Willett birdied Nos. 13 and 14.

“It’s a tough one. I knew the lead was five with nine holes to play. And I knew that those two bogeys weren’t going to hurt me,” said Spieth. “But I didn’t take that extra deep breath and really focus on my line on 12. Instead I went up and I just put a quick swing on it.”

Westwood came within a shot of Willett with a chip-in for eagle on No. 15. However, Willett’s lead quickly increased to three shots on No. 16 after he hit an 8-iron within five feet of the hole for a birdie. Westwood followed his eagle with a bogey at the 16th hole.

“(Spieth) obviously had a terrible run, 10, 11, 12, which basically put it right back in anyone’s hands,” said Willett. “And fortunately enough, I was able to seize the opportunities and knock it in close on 16 and take a two- or three-shot (lead) over Westy.”

Spieth battled back valiantly to birdie Nos. 13 and 15, but a missed birdie putt on the 16th hole and a bogey at No. 17 squelched his last slim hopes of catching Willett. With pars at Nos. 17 and 18, the Sheffield, England native displayed nerves of steel to finish with a bogey-free 67.

“You never feel comfortable on this golf course until you finish and sign the card and post the number. So yeah, we knew we still had a job to do,” he said. “I just feel fortunate that I was in the position that I was able to pounce on the opportunity to accomplish it. If I had been 5-over par, then it wouldn’t have mattered what Jordan had done. Fortunately, I was in a position where we were in second place playing quite nicely, and as a result of him doing what he did, we were able to stay in the lead.”

As the final golfer in last year’s field, Willett’s caddie, Jonathan Smart, wore number 89 on his white coverall (the same number that Nicklaus’ son, Jackie, wore in 1986 when he looped for his father when he won his sixth green jacket). This year, however, Willett’s caddie will wear number 1, which is reserved for the reigning Masters champion.

“It’s just crazy, just surreal. You know, words can’t really describe the things and the emotion. You’re so much involved in what you’re doing when you’re on the golf course, and you do something special, and it still doesn’t sink in quite what you’ve achieved,” Willett said. “I’ve won a couple of golf tournaments around the world, but this is – this is just a different league. It’s a major. It’s the Masters.”

By Betsy Gilliland

 

Salute to the King

Guide to The Masters

Arnold PalmerThere was only one Arnold Palmer, and his golf career — particularly at the Masters Tournament —was one highlight after another.

For the first time in 62 years, the Masters Tournament will be played without the physical presence of Arnold Palmer. However, his presence no doubt will be felt in spirit when the 81st Masters gets underway April 3. In a statement released upon Palmer’s death on September 25, 2016, Billy Payne, Augusta National Golf Club and Masters Tournament chairman, summed up what the legendary golfer meant –and always will mean – to the tournament and to Augusta National. 

“The very essence of the Masters is twofold: to summon nothing less than greatness from the men who annually compete for the title of Masters champion, and to inspire people from all over the world through the magnificence of the game of golf. History at Augusta National will show that Arnold answered the calling for Masters greatness throughout his career, winning the green jacket in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964,” Payne said. “The inspiration we drew from Arnold Palmer, however, is what we celebrate now and forever. Arnold’s bold and daring approach to the game, combined with his citizenship, warmth, humor, humility and grace, were truly the signature of the man that we came to know, and will fondly remember, as The King. His presence at Augusta National will be sorely missed, but his impact on the Masters remains immeasurable – and it will never wane.”

Highlights from Palmer’s Masters career include:

1955 – Palmer receives an invitation to his first Masters after winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur. He finishes T10 after shooting 69 in the final round – the low score of the day – and earns $696. (Although he turns professional later in 1954, his invitation to the Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion stands under the rules at the time.)

1958 – At age 28, Palmer wins his first of four Masters victories. He eagles the 13th hole in his final round, and a rules discussion determines that he scores a par instead of a double bogey on No. 12. Sportswriter Herbert Warren Wind also coins the term “Amen Corner” to describe the holes where critical action occurs in the final round.

1959 – Troops from nearby Camp Gordon join the gallery following the charismatic defending champion, and a soldier who was working one of the back-nine scoreboards as a volunteer refers to the throng as “Arnie’s Army.”

1960 – Palmer earns his second green jacket after he birdies the final two holes on Sunday to win the tournament by a stroke. He becomes the second player to win the Masters in wire-to-wire fashion. 

1962 – Palmer captures his third Masters title by shooting 68 in the tournament’s first three-way playoff to outlast defending champion Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald. He shoots 31 on the back nine of the Monday 18-hole playoff to overtake his competitors in a come-from-behind victory.

Arnold Palmer1964 – Posting three rounds in the 60s, Palmer becomes the first four-time Masters champion in tournament history. He shoots 70 in the final round to win by six strokes.

1995 – The tournament celebrates Arnold Palmer Day on April 4 with the dedication of a plaque commemorating Palmer’s Masters history. The plaque is affixed to a drinking fountain near the tee on the 16th hole. 

2004 – At age 74, Palmer makes his 50th consecutive and last start at the Masters. 

2007 – Palmer debuts as an honorary starter at age 77, reviving an opening ceremony and Masters tradition that has lapsed since 2003.

2015 – At age 85, Palmer hits his final tee shot as an honorary starter.

2016 – From a seat on the first tee, Palmer watches Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who joined him as honorary starters in 2010 and 2012, respectively, hit their ceremonial drives to open the tournament. “I think that everybody was happy to see Arnold out on the tee,” Nicklaus says. “I think that Arnold was happy to be on the tee.” 

By Betsy Gilliland

Course Quiz

Guide to The Masters

quiz-flagsMasters Tournament patrons have a real appreciation for Augusta National Golf Club, so we decided to ask them to tell us about some of their favorite things on and off the golf course. 

1. Allen Fennell, Kingsport, Tennessee (2nd Masters)

2. Eileen Haag, San Diego, California (1st Masters)

3. Mike Yorston, Christchurch, New Zealand (1st Masters)

4. Francisco Basilico, Argentina (1st Masters)

5. Alice Mantz, Virginia Beach, Virginia (1st Masters)

6. Amy McCoy, Atlanta (1st Masters)

7. Christian Stroyberg, London (1st Masters)

8. Katrina Parnaby, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England (1st Masters)

9. Don Fuller, Charlotte, North Carolina (20th Masters)

 

I would like to caddie for _____.

1. Bubba Watson

2. The golfer with the lightest bag

3. Rory McIlroy. I find him exciting to watch.

4. Angel Cabrera

5. That’s tough. Either Rory or Spieth, I guess.

6. Jason Day. I probably shouldn’t say that because he isn’t American.

7. Soren Kjeldsen because I’m Danish, and so is he.

8. Rory McIlroy. He’s a Brit.

9. Rory McIlroy

 

COURSE QUIZWhat has surprised you about the Masters?

1. How much it’s changed and grown since I was here in 1994.

2. There’s no standard bearer walking with the players.

3. The elevations and undulations. That was my biggest gobsmack.

4. The greens speeds and how polite the people are.

5. I had heard it’s super-organized and clean, and it is. That’s been a nice surprise.

6. How many people are here.

7. It’s well organized, and it’s beautiful here.

8. It’s absolutely beautiful, organized and pristine.

9. I like the elegance and the history. People with dumb haircuts don’t holler “You da man.”

 

quiz-ChairsGrandstand or Masters chair?

1. Grandstand

2. Masters chair. I sat in one. It wasn’t mine.

3. Grandstand because I don’t want to carry the bloody chair around.

4. Masters chair

5. Masters chair

6. Masters chair. We’ll get one next time.

7. Masters chair

8. Masters chair. You can pick and choose where you want to sit.

9. I started with the chairs. But I’m 88 years old, so I’m into the grandstands now.

 

My Masters fantasy is ______.

1. To play

2. To win it

3. To play the course

4. To play

5. To par a hole. Any hole.

6. For my soon-to-be husband to play in the Masters. He loves golf.

7. To see a woman win

8. To shoot a hole-in-one myself. But I’ve never picked up a golf club.

9. To play. I was the alternate for a foursome once, so I almost fulfilled it.

Unforgettable Experience

Guide to The Masters

1.-Winners-(main-photo)Eight new champions were crowned at the third annual Drive, Chip & Putt Championship preceding the 2016 Masters Tournament.

While most of the young golfers in last year’s Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club were competing in the event for the first time, experience paid off for seven others. They qualified for the third annual golf skills event for 7- to 15-year-olds for the second time in three years.

One of the returning competitors – 11-year-old Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Florida – won the overall championship in the Girls 10-11 division. “I was so excited two years ago just to be here, and I’m more excited now to be able to relax and just play,” said Pano, who placed third in the inaugural competition in 2014.

The competition, which is conducted by the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America and the United States Golf Association, included 80 finalists from the United States and Canada. The 40 boys and 40 girls competed in four age groups: 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15.

“For us, and I know for our partners at the USGA and PGA of America, it’s about inspiring other kids to become involved in golf,” said Billy Payne, the Augusta National and Masters chairman. 

And for the competitors, the day was one they’ll never forget. Ty Griggs of Manteca, California, who won the Boys 12-13 competition, said he was thrilled to shake hands with Bubba Watson, his favorite golfer.

The remaining male champions were Stephen Robert Hernandez of Houston (ages 7-9), Christian Kim of Vernon Hills, Illinois (ages 10-11) and Michael Thorbjornsen of Wellesley, Massachusetts (ages 14-15).

The other female winners were Emerson Blair of West Point, Mississippi (ages 7-9), Kayla Sam of Anaheim Hills, California (ages 12-13) and Alyssa Montgomery of Knoxville, Tennessee (ages 14-15). 

This year’s Drive, Chip and Putt Championship will be held at Augusta National on Sunday, April 2. Registration for the 2018 championship is underway at drivechipandputt.com, and local qualifiers begin in May.

By Betsy Gilliland

2017 Masters Predictions

Guide to The Masters

2.-Hideki-MatsuyamaLocal golf pros share their picks for Masters glory – or heartache.

As the first major of the year, the Masters Tournament is always the most anticipated major of the golf season. And we can’t wait to see who’s going to win the green jacket. Last year darkhorse winner Danny Willett galloped off with the prize. Will a past champion win the tournament this year, or will another new winner become part of Masters lore? We asked some area golf pros to share their expertise and give us their predictions for this year’s tournament. 

Kirk Hice
Director of Golf, West Lake Country Club
(Kirk’s correct 2016 predictions: Toughest Hole, Highest Score on One Hole)

 2017 Masters Champion: Hideki Matsuyama

Dark Horse: Let’s say Gary Woodland. He’s a long player, and he can take advantage of some of the birdie opportunities there.

Low Newcomer: I’m going to say Hudson Swafford. He’s a Georgia boy, so hopefully he’ll make the most of his first opportunity there.

Low Senior: Fred Couples

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: That’s always a tough one. I’m going to say Patrick Reed.

Toughest Hole: No. 11

Pivotal Hole: No. 13

Highest 18-Hole Score: 82 

Highest Score on One Hole: 9

 

4.-Justin-ThomasTommy Brannen
Head Golf Professional, Augusta Country Club
(Tommy’s correct 2016 predictions: Toughest Hole, Highest Score on One Hole)

2017 Masters Champion: Justin Thomas 

Dark Horse: Tiger Woods. Just for fun.

Low Newcomer: I’ll go with Hudson Swafford. He’s a good player, and he’s a Georgia boy.

Low Senior: I’ll go with Fred Couples.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: I’ll say Jason Day.

Toughest Hole: No. 12

Pivotal Hole: No. 15

Highest 18-Hole Score: 84

Highest Score on One Hole: 9

 

8.-Phil-MIckelsonGreg Hemann
Director of Operations, Jones Creek Golf Club
(Greg’s correct 2016 predictions: Toughest Hole, Highest Score on One Hole)

2017 Masters Champion: Jordan Spieth

Dark Horse: J.B. Holmes. He’s got a great game for the course. He hits it long; he’s got good nerves; and he played well last year.

Low Newcomer: Let’s go with Jon Rahm.

Low Senior: Let’s go with Steve Stricker. He’s a great putter.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Phil Mickelson

Toughest Hole: No. 11

Pivotal Hole: No. 13

Highest 18-Hole Score: 86

Highest Score on One Hole: 9

 

5.-Sergio-GarciaDan Elliott
PGA General Manager/Director of Golf, Forest Hills Golf Club
(Dan needs a mulligan on his 2016 picks.) 

2017 Masters Champion: It’s a tough one. I’m going to say Hideki Matsuyama.

Dark Horse: Since nobody is really expecting him to win a major, I’m going to say Sergio Garcia.

Low Newcomer: Thomas Pieters. He came into his own last year in the Ryder Cup for Europe. He’s playing well this year, and he hits it long.

Low Senior: I like Bernhard Langer.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: I don’t know. There are so many good players that you don’t imagine that they would miss the cut. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Alex Noren.

Toughest Hole: No. 5

Pivotal Hole: No. 15

Highest 18-Hole Score: 82

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

 

6.-Bernhard-LangerSpike Kelley
General Manager and Golf Professional, Goshen Plantation
(Spike’s correct 2016 predictions: Biggest Name to Miss the Cut, Pivotal Hole) 

2017 Masters Champion: Rory McIlroy

Dark Horse: Branden Grace. He almost won the U.S. Open one time, and I can’t think of anyone else.

Low Newcomer: Jon Rahm. He’s really, really good.

Low Senior: Bernhard Langer

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Justin Thomas

Toughest Hole: No. 2

Pivotal Hole: No. 13

Highest 18-Hole Score: 86

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

 

1.-Dustin-JohnsonScott Penland
Director of Golf, Hickory Knob State Park Golf Course
(This is the first year that Scott has participated in our poll.) 

2017 Masters Champion: I’ll go with Dustin Johnson since he’s playing pretty well right now.

Dark Horse: Sergio Garcia. If he can start putting well, he will do great.

Low Newcomer: I’m going to go with Thomas Pieters.

Low Senior: I have to go with Fred Couples.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: That’s a tough one. I hate to jinx anyone. I’ll say Jason Day.

Toughest Hole: No. 7

Pivotal Hole: No. 16

Highest 18-Hole Score: 83

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

 

7.-Kevin-KisnerChris Verdery
Director of Golf, The River Golf Club
(Chris’ correct 2016 predictions: Biggest Name to Miss the Cut, Pivotal Hole, Highest Score on One Hole) 

2017 Masters Champion: I’m going to say Dustin Johnson.

Dark Horse: Kevin Kisner. He’s a local favorite.

Low Newcomer: Jon Rahm. I don’t think the pressure will get to him.

Low Senior: Bernhard Langer. He’s in great shape, and he’s played well the last few years.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: I’ll say Bubba Watson. Don’t ask me why, please.

Toughest Hole: No. 1

Pivotal Hole: No. 12

Highest 18-Hole Score: 83

Highest Score on One Hole: 9

Course Landmarks

Guide to The Masters

Course LandmarksMagnolia Lane – tree-lined main entrance to Augusta National

Founders Circle – two plaques honoring founding members Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones at the base of the flagpole in front of the clubhouse

Crow’s Nest – a cupola atop the clubhouse that provides tournament housing for amateur players 

2.-Landmark-Nelson-Bridge-at-No.-13-TeeBig Oak Tree – a gathering spot for media interviews behind the clubhouse

Rae’s Creek between the 11th and 12th greens 

Hogan Bridge at No. 12 Green 

Nelson Bridge at No. 13 Tee

Sarazen Bridge at No. 15 Green

3.-Landmark--Arnold-Palmer-Plaque-behind-No.-16-teeArnold Palmer Plaque behind No. 16 tee 

Jack Nicklaus Plaque between Nos. 16 and 17

Record Fountain to the left of No. 17 green

Augusta National Golf Club cabins

Ike’s Pond – a spring-fed, 3-acre pond on the Par-3 Course behind Eisenhower Cabin

Par 3 Fountain – adjacent to No. 1 tee on Par 3 course; includes list of Par 3 Contest winners 

 

Prohibited Items

  • Cell phones/PDAs
  • Beepers/Electronic Devices
  • Cameras on Tournament Days
  • Folding armchairs/Rigid chairs or stools (Collapsible chairs with no armrests are acceptable)
  • Bags, backpacks, purses, packages larger than 10”W x 10”H x 12”D
  • Weapons of any kind (regardless of permit)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Beverage containers/Coolers
  • Flags/Banners/Signs
  • Walkie talkies
  • Ladders/Periscopes
  • Radios/TVs/Tape recorders
  • Strollers 

4.-Amenities--Golf-ShopTournament Amenities:

  • Automated teller machines
  • Concession stands
  • First aid stations
  • Golf shops
  • Information centers
  • Lost and found
  • Merchandise shipping/check stands
  • Message center
  • Pairing sheets with course map and tee times
  • Parking
  • Picnic Areas
  • Patron photos (tournament days only)
  • Restrooms
  • Scoring information
  • Spectator guides
  • Telephones
  • Water fountains

Sight Lines

In The Home
Photography by Haley Lamb

Photography by Haley Lamb

An eye for crisp, clean edges and a love of golf are clearly visible in this Champions Retreat home. 

Inspiration comes from many places, and a magazine photo of an Alabama lake house was the impetus for Kim and David Frank to design their dream home in the Founders Village section of Champions Retreat. They modeled the front of their home, which overlooks The Creek Nine at Champions Retreat Golf Club, after the house in the photograph and designed the windows and interior of the home based on the lake house elevation.

The Franks, who have one daughter, Cameron, moved into their Evans home in December of 2013. However, they had the property 10 years before they started to build. “It took two years by the time we started drawing the house and finished it,” Kim says.

Home-PoolSunny Side Up
First impressions are important, and this house has plenty of curb appeal. Featuring a siding and stone façade, the house has shiplap above the stone on the front exterior. A copper awning covers the front porch as well as the roof of the walkway, which features a beadboard ceiling, on the flagstone courtyard between the house and the garage.

The Franks like to spend time in the side courtyard, which overlooks the backyard. A grouping of resin wicker furniture accented with gray cushions faces a raised-hearth stone fireplace. Square tables are tucked between the furniture, and containers of flowers add a splash of color. 

Home-Covered-PatioThe outdoor living space on the back of the house, which gets awash with afternoon sun, features another grouping of box-shaped resin wicker chairs around a square ottoman on the upper level, travertine tile patio. The striped cushions on the gray chairs offer a contrast to the solid gray cushion on the ottoman. 

“I just like a lot of simple, straight lines,” Kim says. 

A covered patio includes travertine tile, an outdoor kitchen with a granite countertop and two ceiling fans above a seating area with more square seats and tables. Another ceiling fan above a nearby ping pong table circulates air in that space. 

A pass-through window from the patio opens to another kitchen in the basement. This kitchen features tile backsplash above the sink, honed granite countertops and antique brass fixtures. 

Home-Family-RoomAn avid golfer, David has golf memorabilia on the walls on the lower level. Four framed, autographed Masters flags line one wall, and David has an autographed print of Arnold Palmer at Southern Hills Country Club in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma on a brick wall in a sitting area in the basement. The Franks even have a 2-year-old Westie named Palmer.

Other golf memorabilia include a framed print of the famous black-and-white photo of Ben Hogan at the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. 

A peek over the estate fencing, which surrounds the beautifully landscaped yard, offers a view of the third tee box of The Creek Nine, which was designed by Gary Player. Two aqua umbrellas shade poolside chaise lounges, and five chairs and a bench surround a nearby fire pit. The outdoor furnishings showcase Kim’s style, and the straight edges of the swimming pool illustrate her preference for lines as well.

Home-Living-RoomMaking the Transition
The simple, clean lines continue inside the home, which is characterized by transitional décor. Oversized two-story picture windows in the living room offer a view of the deck, and benches are tucked beneath the built-in bookcases on either side of the raised hearth, stone fireplace. A three-tiered chandelier suspends from the two-story wood ceiling with exposed beams, and wood columns separate the living room from the foyer. A round table sits in front of the windows, and throw pillows add pops of color to the furniture that is upholstered with natural colors.

“We needed large-scale furniture for the living room,” says Kim.

An upstairs catwalk, which includes bookcases made of reclaimed wood, overlooks the living room.

Home-KitchenBarn doors lead to the family room, which was supposed to be a screened-in porch in the original house plans. The space includes a wet bar with a hammered stainless steel sink and nickel faucet. The bar is made of reclaimed wood, and the lighting was copied from an Atlanta restaurant. Leather, studded stools are tucked beneath the granite countertop, and photos of Champions Retreat hang on a wall. The wood on the walls was painted to give it a weathered look, and the ceiling beams are made of reclaimed wood. A glass door leads to the wine cellar, which features brick walls and a barrel ceiling. 

One of the guest bedrooms was supposed to be a dining room, but the house has an eating area nestled between the family room and the kitchen instead.

“We don’t have a formal dining room. I haven’t missed it. In our last house we used it once a year,” says Kim.

Home-Dining-AreaThe concrete table in the dining area weighs 600 pounds, and wicker chairs line the sides of the table. An upholstered chair anchors each end. The space also includes a stone fireplace with a wood beam mantel, and a set of double doors lead to the courtyard. A large dough bowl hangs on one wall. “We hung it on the wall because we didn’t want to have to move it from the table every time we ate,” Kim says.

The rug on the dining area floor matches the stone tile backsplash in the kitchen, and both rooms feature exposed wood beams on the ceiling. The kitchen features marble countertops, an island with a sink, a pot filler above the stovetop and gray painted cabinets. The doors to the top cabinets feature frosted glass, and the wood door to the pantry has frosted glass as well. Two large conical pendant lights hang above the island, and a trio of smaller conical pedant lights top the windows above the sink. 

The master bedroom features a flat screen TV on a metal wall, built-in bookcases, built-in drawers, a ceiling fan and a view of the deck. The adjoining master bath includes a stand-alone tub, walk-in shower, double sinks, separate vanity area, marble flooring and granite countertops.

One of Kim’s favorite features in the home is the laundry room off of the master bedroom. With all of its bells and whistles, it – almost – makes doing laundry a pleasure, or at least tolerable. The laundry room features tile squares separated by faux wood tile, a chute from upstairs and drying racks in the drawers. The space even includes a gift wrapping area with wall-mounted rolls for gift wrap and a built-in bed for Palmer. 

Pine flooring and acrylic doorknobs are found throughout the house, and, fittingly, all of the bedrooms overlook the golf course. 

By Sarah James

Perfect Setup

Sports
Photos courtesy of Veteran Golfers Association

Photos courtesy of Veteran Golfers Association

Veterans enjoy playing in a golf tournament with celebrities and visiting Augusta National Golf Club during a Master Tournament practice round

The Masters Tournament and the military are full of traditions, but it’s never too late to start a new one – especially when the two forces come together. Last year the Veteran Golfers Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes golf to veterans and their families, launched Tuesday for the Troops, a fundraiser for the VGA, to honor veterans during Masters Week. This year’s outing will be held April 2-5.

sports-Aaron-Ojard,-Jim-Dent-and-Randall-McDanielOn Monday golfers will go to Augusta National Golf Club for a Masters practice round and have dinner at Azalea House. A golf tournament for the troops will be held Tuesday at Jones Creek Golf Club, and they will attend the Rock Fore! Dough concert that night.

Last year 28 golfers – 14 veterans and 14 celebrities – played in the tournament, and about the same number is expected this year. The soldiers will include the overall male and female winners and flight winners at the 2016 VGA National Championship and VGA board members.

“We’d like to create a long-standing tradition of holding Tuesday for the Troops during Masters Week,” says Josh Peyton, the VGA president and retired U.S. Army Ranger and infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. 

sports-Andrew-Smith-Jones-Creek-1He certainly has allies at Jones Creek. Through PGA REACH and other programs for veterans, the property has been a longtime supporter of the military. 

“We are happy to help groups like the VGA raise money and raise awareness. It’s a way for us to give back,” says Gregg Hemann, director of operations. “Joe Caley, the VGA vice president, has been part of Jones Creek for years. This is a cause that touches everyone, especially in Augusta, Georgia, which is a military-based town.”

sports-Jim-DentAll-Star Event
The VGA partnered with Augusta Warrior Project for the outing, and the family of amateur golfer Bobby Jones, co-founder of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, sponsored the event as well. Jones served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and his family provided the veterans with apparel for the event.

Celebrities included Randall McDaniel, NFL Hall of Famer; Plaxico Burress, former New York Giants wide receiver and Super Bowl champion; Russ Ortiz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher and All-Star; DJ Irie, the official DJ for the Miami Heat; Alexa Pano and Allan Kournikova, the top-ranked junior golfers in the world at the time; and Theo Ratliff, a former NBA All-Star. Augusta native Jim Dent, who played on the PGA and Champions tours, made a surprise appearance at the event as well.

“We won’t know who the celebrities will be this year until the last minute,” says Peyton. “It depends on their schedules.”

Last year U.S. Army Sergeant Andrew Smith, who lost both legs in 2012 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, earned his way to Tuesday for the Troops by winning his flight for wounded veterans.

sports-DJ-Irie-and-Joe-Caley“Golf became a passion after I was injured,” he says. “It was part of my therapy.”

The Chattanooga, Tennessee resident used to play golf occasionally on weekends with his dad and his brother before he was injured. Afterward, his therapist put a golf club in his hands and told him to swing it to work on his balance.

“The tournament was less about the competition and more about the camaraderie. They made a lot of new friends,” says Peyton. “For Andrew Smith, a double amputee, to hit a ball 200 yards, it’s a pretty special thing to witness.”

Hemann, who calls the wounded veterans the true celebrities, agrees.

“It’s great to see. It’s a really happy day, and I think they have a great time. There are a lot of conversations, a lot of picture taking and a lot of laughing, he says. “When someone makes a great shot, we hear a lot of cheering that we don’t normally hear on a golf course. You can see the bond among the veterans, and it is so inspirational seeing people that have had devastating injuries overcome them.”

Smith, a Purple Heart recipient who was part of the 82nd Airborne Division, went to a Masters practice round for the first time last year. “It’s cool to be on the golf course. It’s extremely special,” says Smith. “It’s one thing you never think you’re going to do in life.”

Peyton met Ben Crenshaw at the practice round last year when he saw him on the golf course and introduced himself to the two-time Masters champion. “It was really cool to shake his hand and get a couple of moments to talk to him,” Peyton says.

However, he is just as happy to help provide an unforgettable experience for his fellow veterans. “For 99 percent of them, this was their first time at the Masters. They all became little kids and had the biggest smiles on their faces when they came back,” Peyton says.

sports-Cedrick-King,-Andrew-Smith-and-Josh-WetzelLife-Changing Experience
While golf can help veterans recover from physical and emotional disabilities, Peyton says the sport also gives them hope and makes them feel whole again.

“Veterans have gone through some really dark moments. A lot of them suffer from PTSD and other combat-related injuries. A lot of VGAs are using golf as a recovery tool for veterans to make their lives normal again,” says Peyton. “Veterans have seen bad things, been injured or had a bad experience from the VA system. We’re all about post-traumatic growth. Having a positive experience from golf is important to them to help them change their lives.”

Peyton underwent two years of surgeries to save his right hand after a vehicle rollover accident in Iraq in 2011.

“Supporting veterans is a big deal. It makes a big difference in a lot of veterans’ lives. They need positive stories, and they need to set goals for themselves,” he says. “Tuesday for the Troops does that for them. It motivates them to earn a trip to the national championship, and especially to the Masters. If you set goals for yourself, you can achieve them.”

He also says golf rekindles a trait that they all have in common.

“The one quality that all veterans share with each other is competition – the competition to be number one and the competition to never fail. Veterans have a desire and a will to succeed,” Peyton says. “Golf is a sport where you don’t have to be the tallest or the fastest. You just have to be determined and put in the time to see positive results. It’s one sport where disabled individuals can compete against able-bodied individuals through the handicap system.”

Hemann, who says the wounded veterans expect no special treatment, looks forward to Tuesday for the Troops. Ditto for Peyton.

“It’s a life-changing experience to go to Augusta. It’s a way for us to give back, and it’s a token of our appreciation for their service to our country,” says Peyton. “These are the guys that are true American heroes in my eyes. They’re all over the country, and they love to play golf. We would love for the entire community to get involved through sponsorships or donations.” 

For more information about the VGA, visit vgagolf.org.

By Betsy Gilliland

 

Shrimp & Grits with Andouille Sausage

Entrees
  • shrimp and grits1 cup grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 green onions, sliced 
  • Cook grits per package instructions until tender. Stir in butter and cheese; set aside. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook sausage about 3 minutes and set aside. Toss shrimp in Cajun seasoning and add to pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes and set aside. Add broth and tomato paste and simmer 3-5 minutes. Add sausage and shrimp, season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in cream and remove from heat. Place grits in individual bowls and top with shrimp and sausage mixture. Garnish with green onions and serve. Makes 4 servings.