This weekend is the “Summer Kickoff”, but to a summer unlike any other. Historically, Memorial Day is a huge weekend for golf, and fortunately this year is no different.
As the world begins to return to some form of normalcy, we can finally anticipate some exciting competitive golf on tv with “The Match”, an exhibition pitting Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods versus Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. We got a little taste of competition with the “Driving for Relief” competition this past weekend with Rickie/Wolff vs DJ/Rory, but the Tiger/Phil and friends match this weekend is certainly the main course we’ve all been waiting for! With the anticipation mounting, I found myself reminiscing on my own fond Memorial Day golf memories (with a little anticipation for my own match this weekend).
I’ve been swinging golf clubs since probably 2 days after I learned to walk, and it’s been a huge part of my life and arguably my main hobby since my days as a whippersnapper. My father (Doc) took up golf in his mid-20’s, and as he transitioned from a competitive track athlete, he approached golf with the same fiery determination that made him an All-SEC track star at UGA. If you know my father, you’ll know that NOTHING keeps him off the range or golf course. We’ve played in all kinds of weather, and driven all kinds of distances to enjoy our favorite courses.
One of my favorites was when we drove from Birmingham to Montgomery on the day after Christmas, waited out a 3 hour frost delay, and then walked 18 holes at the incredible Judge golf course (RTJ Capitol Hill), in a 36 degree steady mist, before climbing back into the van to thaw out on the hour drive back to Bham. That passion for the game was handed down to me, and I could not be more grateful!
Memorial day has always been special to me, and golf is nearly always the featured entertainment. Growing up, my father, twin brother Mark (aka filch, ⅓ of the Which Carolina Pod), and I would invite a 4th along, and partake in a “Summer Kickoff” Golf Match, with a free Hardee’s meal always on the line to the victors!
The match was always the twins versus Doc and his partner, and we would meet at a Shoney's off of Little Rock Rd in West Charlotte (which sadly, no longer exists), and carpool roughly 45 minutes out to Woodbridge Golf Links in Kings Mountain. Was Woodbridge a great course in great shape? No. Did it have a very scoreable front 9, with a delightful mix of gettable and challenging holes, and an incredibly memorable back 9 that required high stress shots that could determine the fate of a match?? Absolutely. I was deeply saddened to hear that Woodbrige Golf Links closed for several years, but I believe it has now reopened under new management (as Club Woodbridge), and hopefully will remain a delightful challenge into the future.
Many a heart was broken, and many a shank was hit on those fairways, and several matches of epic proportions were re-lived over a #1 thickburger combo and cajun-seasoned fries. Even one year when we were required to go to school (dang snow days!) on Memorial Day, Doc regretfully informed Randolph Middle administrators that his twin boys had dentist appointments, sorry! Later, the Memorial Day Match became a fivesome, which pitted Mark, Lee (aka Zebransky, the other ⅓ of the Which Carolina Pod), and myself against Doc and Butch (Lee’s Dad), this led to some of my fondest memories growing up. I swear Doc is more clutch than freaking Tiger standing over a 10 foot putt to win a match! These matches were played out at courses all over Charlotte, Rock Hill, the RTJ trail in Alabama, and even the deep Gulf Coast, and are maybe the things I miss most about growing up.
But now we look ahead! Despite being quarantined for the last 2 months, we will be (safely and carefully) carrying out our Memorial Day tradition of dueling on the links. On Friday, I’ll be teeing it up with Doc for 18 holes just south of his Macon home; a little warm up round and preview of the weekend’s festivities. After a trip to Atlanta to help my wife’s sister and her boyfriend move, the stars will align on Monday, and Doc, Filch, and I (and probably my wife, making her Memorial Day golf debut) will meet in Auburn at RTJ Grand National, to play 36 and carry on our Memorial Day golf tradition!
We will start on the Links course, a very challenging, target golf course (that has always eaten me alive), and grab some trail dogs, caribbean chicken sandwiches, or reubens at the turn (seriously, even if you don’t play golf, stop at an RTJ trail course in Alabama and eat a meal!), and head back out for another 18 on the more traditional Lakes course. Considering that I play most of my golf alone these days, and have for several years, it is always a treat to play and compete with people I love on courses that I can’t get enough of. No matter who wins the match, it will be a Memorial Day to remember!
As a golfer, Memorial day weekend is one of my favorites, and this year, against all odds and under circumstances that I never would have imagined, it will once again be a truly memorable weekend! I hope you’re all able to spend this weekend with friends, or family, or if nothing else, on the golf course. Comment below to share your Memorial Day traditions/memories!
As always, we’re glad that Carolina is on your mind….