Years ago I would have early-morning phone chats with my good friend, Wayne DePetris. We talked about everything. Wayne was a golfer, so, of course, many of our conversations centered around golf. Wayne passed away 15 years ago. I miss him.
True story. One day when Wayne and I were playing at Island’s End in Greenport, on the sixth hole, a sharp dogleg right, Mr. “I Never Wear A Coat,” acting like Babe Ruth calling his shot, said to me he was going to hit it over the trees and onto the green. Up he steps, looking straight ahead at some very tall and leafy obstacles. DePetris nails it. We couldn’t see it land, but when we rounded the turn, there it was, on the green, 20 feet from the cup. I went crazy. DePetris, in his modest way, gave the DePetris grunt, or whatever that noise was that he made, and just shrugged it off.
One year during Masters week we were discussing which of the four major golf tournaments we liked most. No contest. The Masters was our choice, hands down. Then we sparred over who the main attraction playing in the event that year would be. This was pre-Tiger time so the field was wide open. We agreed that the course itself is always the shining star at the Masters. Even if you are not a golf fan, next year do yourself a favor, tune in and check out the incredible beauty of Augusta National Golf Club.
This year, making his 44th, and last start in the Masters, was golf Hall of Famer Ben Crenshaw. It was great watching the 63-year-old Crenshaw tipping his cap to the applauding and appreciative fans while walking down his final Augusta fairways on Friday, and then being greeted by his family on the 18th green.
However, the most touching moment after the round came with Crenshaw’s emotional embrace of his longtime caddy, 68-year-old Carl Jackson. Definitely a tissue timeout for your golf guy.
Carl Jackson left school when he was 13 in order to help support his family. He began caddying at Augusta National when he was 14 years old and carried his first bag at the Masters that same year. The first time he caddied for University of Texas graduate Ben Crenshaw was at the Masters in 1976. He continued to caddy for Crenshaw at Augusta every year, with the exception of 2000 when Jackson was recovering from colon cancer. Jackson was on Crenshaw’s bag the two times “Gentle Ben” took home the green jacket, in 1984 and again in 1995.
Dealing with the affects of lung cancer, Jackson was unable to caddy for Crenshaw at this year’s Masters. He did, however, carry the bag for Crenshaw at the par-3 contest last Wednesday. Jackson’s brother, Bud, caddied for Crenshaw Thursday and Friday.
Two men of different races. Two men from different backgrounds. Two men with different academic credentials. Two men who worked together for many years toward a common goal. Two men who truly respected and loved each other. Two men who made it work.
If only. If only …