I’ve never quite figured out EXACTLY why golf brings people together. But it does. Whether or not it’s just a guy you meet from the walk-on list at Mount Pleasant on a Thursday afternoon or a couple of guys you see at the airport ticket counter checking-in their clubs, there’s always a common bond there that more times than not leads to something good.
To wit, here are several recent stories I’ve stockpiled to produce as evidence that golf does, sometimes mysteriously, bring people together.
All of you by now probably know about our May 24th WNST Charity Golf Outing presented in honor of Erinn McCarthy. I didn’t know the late Ms. McCarthy and that means, most likely, that 95% of you reading this probably didn’t know her either. Yet, our 2007 golf outing now stands to be our most successful ever, boosted in great part by the donations, registrations and all of the support that’s been shown by our WNST/golfing community. As the day draws near, I’ll single out the individuals who have REALLY made this year’s tournament a big-time winner, but for now, just absorb the fact that while no one knew Erinn McCarthy, everyone who knows her story is absolutely willing to help do ANYTHING that carries on her memory.
The week of The Masters, I gave listeners an opportunity to join in the drive to honor Erinn by launching “Eagles for Erinn”, a campaign that included pledges from all of you based on the number of Eagles made at Augusta. $4,400 later, the beautiful bronze Eagle sculpture is en-route from Idaho and will be here at week’s end. We will donate the sculpture to Maryvale Prep, with a memorial inscription dedicated to Erinn, and it’s all because of the heartfelt generosity of WNST listeners.
In early April, the Maryland State Golf Association (the governing body of amateur/professional golf in Maryland) held its annual State Team Match Championship. 72 teams started and the brackets resembled the NCAA basketball tournament. One loss and you go home. My club, Mountain Branch, was fortunate enough to combine some great play at the most opportune times to reach the Final for the first time in the 7-year history of the course. As the weeks went on and we won matches 3, 4 and 5, a tide of pride rolled through Mountain Branch. Members started coming out to the course on Saturday and Sunday to watch our matches against the competing clubs/courses and our members even went as far as to wear the same color combinations (team uniforms) as the players who were representing the club in the Championship. Golf – albeit successful golf – really brought Mountain Branch together. Last weekend, we played in the Final against Breton Bay, located in Leonardtown (Southern, MD)…a 105 mile drive that takes about 2.5 hours to complete. While 50 or so Mountain Branch members followed our “home” matches around (decked out in our team colors of khaki and light blue), a handful of members made the journey to Leonardtown to watch our “away” gang fight the guys from Breton Bay. I can’t tell you how proud I felt when I was on the practice green 30 minutes before our match at Breton Bay and I looked up and there were Mountain Branch members, in khaki and light blue, on hand to root us on…in a day-long downpour, no less.
Unfortunately, we lost the match, but in reality, we won. Golf brought all of us together at Mountain Branch and the club is better off for it and so are we, as members, players and men and women.
Lastly, yesterday was a big day for me for a variety of reasons. First, I successfully qualified for the Maryland Open and Maryland Amateur at Elkridge CC. It’s a day filled with nerves and tension because you only get ONE shot each year to qualify for your state Open and state Amateur…it’s always that first Monday in May. You’re either playing well that day and you get in…or you wait around another 364 days to play in the two best golf tournaments of the year held in the state of Maryland. But something else special happened yesterday. I was on the putting green around 11:30 am when a guy walked up to me. He introduced himself as “Dr. Kerns” and said, “I saw your name on the MSGA web-site and wanted to come by and meet you and give you this for your golf outing to benefit Maryvale Prep.”
Dr. Kerns’ daughter graduated from Maryvale in 1998. She’s married with two children and she lives with her husband in Charlotte, NC. He gave me “a day at Congressional Country Club”, including a foursome of golf at one of the state’s best golf courses, plus dinner and all the good stuff (code word for: red wine…ha ha) that goes with it. It’s something I can auction off at the charity golf outing and easily raise $500 or $1,000 that will go directly to Maryvale Prep.
He handed me his business card and said, “Maryvale is a wonderful place. They helped raise my daughter. I will always do anything I can to help Maryvale and I appreciate what WNST has done to honor Erinn and the school.”
With that, he wished me luck and strolled off.
And finally, after my round at Elkridge CC, I hustled across Towson to join up with the Maryvale people who were having their annual golf outing at the Country Club of Maryland. There, I sat in a room with Maryvale mom’s and dad’s, golfers of all skills, handicaps and interest levels. They were on hand yesterday for two reasons – to help raise money for Maryvale and to announce the formation of the Erinn McCarthy Endowment Fund, which will go under the umbrella of the Maryvale Dad’s Club and will be provided to a worthy recipient each year in Erinn’s name. Bill McCarthy, Erinn’s dad, was on hand to play golf and enjoy the day and, naturally, he was overwhelmed at the Endowment Fund announcement. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, believe me, when Bill got up to speak.
NewsChannel 2′s Jamie Costello was on hand (his daughter goes to Maryvale) and I helped him with the live auction, which netted the school another $10k or so.
It was great to see Sister Shawn, Barbara Trainor, her husband Gene, Steve Cascio, Jamie and, of course, Bill McCarthy. One of our great sponsors, Bob Fewster of The Fewster Painting Company was also on hand playing in the event (his daughter went to Maryvale) and he donated his Garrett County house for a week of fun and frolic at Wisp…which Jamie and I prompty auctioned off for $1,500!
Golf brought all of those people together yesterday at CC of Maryland…all to help a great school and honor a young lady who left an indelible impression on a great number of very humbled golfers yesterday.
I haven’t yet figured out HOW golf brings people together, but I’m sure glad I’m a part of it all, that’s for certain.
Have a great Tuesday….I’m off to the ballpark. See you at Edgars if you’re coming out to join us!