I’d like to thank everyone who voted and commented on “I’ll Carry Your Bag.” I did not intend to make this a multiple part story, because I wasn’t sure how it would be received. People either love the game of golf or they hate it, as evidenced by one comment.
This is dedicated to those who requested I continue Raquel and Sean’s adventures.
I’ve been in love with the game since I was 15. Not just playing golf, but also studying it’s rich history. A history filled with incredible players, caddies and fascinating golf courses. The combination of which has produced amazing moments in time. The circumstances resulting in the collision between humans and nature… often bringing out the best in both.
Legendary tournaments, like Jack Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters win at Augusta National for his record sixth green jacket, with his son, Jackie, carrying his bag.
Or the 2015 Lotte Championship, when Sei Young Kim defeated Inbee Park on the first sudden death playoff hole by holing her second shot from 154 yards out. The shot was over a lake, took two bounces and slam dunked into the hole for the eagle. Utterly amazing.
How about Jin Young Ko’s 2021-2022 66 consecutive greens in regulation. Not impressed? Tiger’s biggest streak of consecutive GIRs was 29 in 2000. Jin Young more than lapped, arguably, the greatest player of all time.
Golf has also blessed us with people like Arnold Palmer who meant more to millions, around the world… than just hitting a little white ball.
My favorite moment in time is Ben Hogan’s incredible one iron shot on the 72nd hole at the 1950 US Open, played at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA. As with most great stories, it’s about much…much more than just one golf shot. This story started over a year earlier with an almost catastrophic outcome. On February 2, 1949, outside of Van Horn, Texas, Mr. Hogan and his wife, Valerie, were involved in a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus who was passing an 18-wheeler during a heavy fog. At the very last moment, Ben threw himself in front of Valerie saving her life and as it turned out… his own. Mrs. Hogan, incredibly, only sustained minor injuries. Mr. Hogan wasn’t as fortunate. He suffered significant injuries to include damage to his left eye, a broken pelvis, left ankle and collarbone.
The doctors told Ben he would be lucky to ever walk again. More tragically, they said his days of playing golf were over.
One problem… the doctors didn’t know Ben Hogan.
Back in 1950, the final two rounds (36 holes), of the US Open, were played on the same day. Mr. Hogan was in constant pain the entire tournament and could barely walk near the end of his final round. The pain had become so great, he almost quit on the 13th hole of his second 18, on the final day. The fact that he stood on the tee box of the 72nd hole, needing a par to force a playoff, was a miracle in itself. However, I like to think it was completely “in character” with the way Ben Hogan lived his life. A life filled with overcoming unimaginable pain and adversity.
The 18th at Merion, in 1950, was a 458 yard par four. In those days it was considered a very long par four. The hole started off with a blind tee shot over a rock quarry. Hogan hit his drive right down the middle of the fairway. The second shot was to a green with a false front and roll-off on the back. It has been described like a barrel laying on its side. For Hogan’s second shot, he chose the hardest club in golf… the one iron. Lee Trevino once quipped that even the Almighty couldn’t hit the one iron. But on this day, Hogan’s one iron was struck pure on the face of the club and landed in the middle of the green. Hogan two putted for his par and an 18 hole playoff, the next day. By the time he held the trophy as the national champion, Ben Hogan had walked 90 holes of the most competitive golf.
… when the doctors said he would never again walk one.
I don’t think there’s another sports moment that demonstrates the absolute determination and shear will to do what many said was impossible.
But that’s who Ben Hogan was.
I played my first round of golf in June of 1971… one month earlier, on May 13th, Ben Hogan walked and played his last competitive round, 21 years after the miracle at Merion.
Well, that’s why I love the game so much.
I understand if you don’t.
Please enjoy “I’ll Carry Your Bag — Part Two”
Sunday – Final Round
Those who don’t play golf say, “What’s so hard about it? The ball doesn’t move, nobody’s trying to take it from you, you don’t have to run or skate after it… it just sits there patiently waiting for you to hit it.” The ball dares you, yes even taunts you, to hit it where you aim. It presents a beautiful landscape as it’s playing field; fairways that are as wide as football fields are long, greens as big as an entire hockey rink.
Expounding upon Mark Twain’s quote, “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” golf has been described güvenilir bahis as a pleasant walk through a beautiful tree lined grassy landscape… fucked up by a little white ball.
Why? Because once the golf club is pulled back an eight of an inch, it becomes one of the hardest, most frustrating games in the world. But what causes it to be so “hard” is what occupies the space between the ears.
There are days when golf is “easy” and there are those when it’s impossibly frustrating. Most of the time it’s somewhere in between. The first lesson golf teaches is “humility.” The secret to golf is finding a repetitive swing that works. Much easier said than done. Anyone can play golf, few can master it. The majority of all golfers can’t break a 100. Finding the allusive “successfully repetitive swing” isn’t easy. Many find it at “moments” and then “poof” it’s gone.
Problems with the golf swing can either be easy to figure out and corrected, or a pain in the ass, like looking for a single code error in a computer program. Sometimes in order to “fix it” the golfer has to quit thinking about everything. Then there are those times where the golfer just has to “pound” practice balls until the problems get worked out.
Golf courses present their own special set of problems, separate from the golf swing. Some golf courses “fit the eye” better than others.
Raquel and Sean were having one of those weeks. Coming off a win is always hard. It’s rare for a professional golfer to win two weeks in a row. It happens, but not often. It didn’t happen for Raquel.
It wasn’t that Raquel suddenly forgot how to play golf or even played badly. She just didn’t play as well as she did the previous week. She knocked one into the water on the 10th hole during the second round. That led to a double bogey. It was the only double of the week, but one more double than the week before. In the third round, her second shot hit the flag stick on the seventh hole, propelling the ball back into the sand trap, resulting in a hard fought bogey, instead of being inches from the hole for a tap-in birdie. Putting was her strength and carried her to victory the week before. This week her putting was just a fraction off. She “lipped out” several short putts. More birdie putts fell…last week. It became frustrating to the point that her putting stroke was shorter and quicker, resulting in more missed putts.
Fact is she was never really in contention. The previous week, it seemed like all the shots landed where she aimed, all the putts dropped in the center of the cup and all the bounces went her way.
Last week she “saw the golf course.”
This week… not so much.
The media suggested Raquel’s new sponsorship with Sparta Apparel and the rumors of a romance with her famous caddy were distractions. The media often gets it wrong.
It just wasn’t her week to win.
Sean helped her, every way possible. The more frustrated she became, the more supportive he was. At the end of the day, she probably would have played worse if it hadn’t been for Sean.
At the beginning of the final round, Raquel and Sean stood on the first tee, ten shots behind the Scot, Megan Hall. The Korean superstar and number one player in the world, K.T. Lee, was in second, just one shot back. Sure, if Raquel could magically post an extremely low number, like a 59 or 60, she had a chance. But nobody, including Raquel, was putting money on that possibility.
They were just going to play the best golf possible and let the chips fall where they may. One thing was for sure, Raquel didn’t feel any pressure standing over her first drive. And that helped her play the best round of the week… but not good enough to win. She ended the week on a positive note and that was important for future weeks.
On this day K.T. proved why she was the world number one. She dissected the golf course like a frog in a high school biology class. She flat put on a golf clinic. Raquel and Sean finished a good half hour ahead of K.T. and Megan. When Raquel signed her scorecard she was seven shots behind the leaders and in a tie for fifth place. The leaders still had four holes to play. Raquel knew they would birdie at least one or two of the finishing holes, but it looked pretty good for her to finish in the top ten. With the win last week and a top ten this week, her world ranking should move from 95th to somewhere in the 70s, maybe even the 60s. That would be good enough to qualify her the next tournament.
The plan, as usual, was for Raquel and Sean to meet back up after she signed her card and Sean prepared her clubs to be shipped to the next tournament location.
After signing her card and stopping by the locker room, Raquel headed towards the fan autograph area. On the way she noticed a huge crowd gathered around what she assumed was one of the more popular pros.
Little did she know.
As she approached a tall, dark and extremely handsome man broke free of the güvenilir bahis siteleri masses.
Then she saw Sean approaching the crowd.
The very popular man, who everyone knew, threw his arms wide open, ready for a hug and screamed, “Caddie!”
Sean beamed and yelled back, “Kal-El!”
Both men met and warmly embraced each other.
“What are you doing here?”
” I wanted to meet the golfer that was able to do the impossible.” El said with a smile.
“The impossible?” Sean asked confused.
“When you told me you were retiring you said, and I quote, it will be a cold day in hell before I carry another bag.” Eldon said still smiling.
Sean said quietly, “Sometimes I hate your fucking memory.”
As if on cue, Raquel walked up. Sean smiled, “Eldon Forester, I’d like you to meet Ms. Impossible, Raquel Simmons. Raquel, I’d like you to meet my former asshole boss, Eldon Forester.”
Raquel extended her hand, “It’s an honor Mr. Forester. I know it’s cliché, but I’m your biggest fan.”
El smiled and took her hand, “The honor is all mine Ms. Simmons and I’m very happy to know I still have one fan.”
Sean put his arm around both, “I think I’m going to be sick.”
Raquel asked El, “I was just on my way to the fan autograph area, would you like to join me?”
Eldon returned the smile, “I would love to, but does the caddie have to tag along?”
They all cracked up over the bantering. Sean was very glad to see El. Eldon really did show up to see Sean and meet Raquel. He wanted to surprise them both, but none of them realized there was an unintended consequence to his being there.
In his time, Eldon Forester had been the dominant player in all of golf. Not only did he break social barriers, he still holds numerous records, some of which may never be broken. To many in the sport he was and still is bigger than life. Eldon Forester hated the sports hero worshiping, he was just a normal guy who worked very hard to be the best in his chosen profession. Additionally, since his competitive days were in his rear view mirror, he spent his time designing golf courses, raising his children and building his foundation. In fact, Eldon Forester designed the golf course the WPGL was playing this week.
Eldon’s presence elevated the stature of the tournament. It was extremely rare for a male professional golf superstar to show up at a woman’s tournament. The small group of young fans suddenly swelled a hundred fold, but mostly by grown men and women, vying to get a picture or an autograph with Eldon Forester. It was a lesson in why Eldon rarely did anything in public without planning. Eldon and Sean had been down this road before.
While the dejected youngsters were being overwhelmed by the overexcited adult crowd, Sean grabbed one of the tournament officials and asked if there was a private room, in the clubhouse, they could use for an hour or so. Within five minutes the league arranged a large conference room and security. Sean made his way over to the group of young fans and told them to gather as many of their friends, as possible and rendezvous with Sean at the entrance to the club. He emphasized… no adults. Sean then went to the scoring tent and asked to get the word out to as many players as possible. The caddies were also invited to join in. Finally, Sean texted Raquel and Eldon saying, “Meet me in the clubhouse lobby in fifteen.”
Sean then made his way to the front of the clubhouse. Security personnel were there to assist. Sean told security the only ones allowed in the room were the young fans, WPGL players, their caddies and Eldon Forester…absolutely no one else. The group of kids had grown to over 75. Sean yelled for them to follow him. He led them into a large meeting room and then gathered them all around.
“Hi guys, for anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m Sean Connors, Raquel Simmons’ caddie.” He yelled out with a smile.
“I’m sorry you didn’t get to spend any quality time with Raquel or Eldon Forester, but I promise I’ll make it up to you.”
75 plus smiles looked back at Sean hoping this wasn’t a trick.
Right about that time, seven WPGL pros walked into the room. The young fans screamed and ran to them for pictures and autographs. Even more, they actually got to talk to them. More lady pros came into the room, including the tournament champion, K.T. Lee and runner up, Megan Hall. 40 or more pros ended up joining in the festivities. Even a number of caddies showed up. They were a little nervous because they never got to participate in events like this one. However, very quickly they got into the groove of things.
The young fans thought they won the lottery. Then Raquel and Eldon showed up and the excitement was elevated another notch. All the pros, caddies, and especially Eldon were having the time of their lives. The lady golf pros even fought the urge to talk to Eldon. They all knew, to a person, they were there for the young fans. Sean checked iddaa siteleri with security who was busy keeping a group of very unhappy adults out of the room. John Garrison and his TV crew were part of the unhappy group. This wasn’t about publicity. Sean did allow one non-player to enter the room, the Commissioner of the WPGL, Barbara Mac Michaels. She joined in with the players, interacting with the young fans.
Sean stood back and watched with a smile on his face. He noted the players, caddies, El and the Commissioner were enjoying themselves just as much as the youngsters. Raquel approached Sean and dragged him into the fray. The young group of fans were surprisingly very knowledgeable about golf and knew that Sean was also a member of the Pro Golf Hall of Fame along with Eldon. He was treated just as much a celebrity as Eldon was.
After about an hour or more, It was time for the young fans to be returned to their parents. Eldon stayed and chatted with the lady pros. He told them how impressed he was with their talent, hard work and staying connected with the fans, especially the young ones. Eldon also thanked the caddies for their dedication to their players and the sport. Finally he thanked the Commissioner for choosing his golf course and hoped they would return for many years to come. The Commissioner thanked Eldon for coming and for Sean taking the initiative in putting this add hock event together.
She made a mental note to find a way to repeat this type of fan interaction.
Raquel hugged her caddie/boyfriend and gave him a big kiss.
“So how’s this working out Raquel? Connors is soooo old.” El asked laughing.
They were having dinner at a popular restaurant. The other patrons kept looking over at their table. They could hear whispers every now and again, “That is him. It’s Eldon Forester. And isn’t that Raquel Simmons with him?”
A caddie being in the Hall of Fame didn’t necessarily translate to street recognition.
Raquel smiled back, “He’s my knight in shining armor.”
That made El laugh even louder. “Only my Sean could be compared to a knight. But when you think about it…it fits.”
“Um…hellloo! I’m sitting right here.” Sean was beet red.
Raquel got serious for a moment, “That was really nice of you to hang out with the kids today.”
Eldon responded, “Thank your boyfriend, he put it together. But seriously, I loved every second of it. I wish the guys were that connected to the young fans.”
Between bites Sean replied, “Nothing stopping them.”
Eldon made a mental note to talk to the PGL Commissioner.
El took a sip of his wine, “You two look good together. Its good to see my lawyer happy again. So what’s the plan?”
Raquel looked confused, “Plan?”
“How are you going to make this work?”
Sean replied, “Slow down Kal-El, we’ve only been together for a couple of weeks. She has her career and her brother is still her caddie. Professionally, I’m just the stand-in.”
Raquel started to look worried.
El added, “And personally?”
Sean held Raquel’s hand and smiled, “And that’s none of your damn business.”
Raquel relaxed and they all had a laugh.
They ate, drank, talked, and laughed. Eldon was telling endless stories about Sean’s past antics. Sean was constantly correcting El’s version of things. It was very obvious Sean and Eldon were life long friends. Raquel never wanted it to end.
All of a sudden a gangly teenage boy was standing next to the table. It was obvious he was extremely nervous.
Eldon tried to put him at ease, “Good evening young man. What can we do for you? Would you like an autograph?”
That’s exactly what the teenager was hoping for, but from whom was what surprised everyone.
The boy finally found his voice, “Thank you Mr. Forester, but I’ve been caddying for a couple of years at the club. I’ve studied everything I could find on Mr. Connors. I just want to be the best caddy there ever was. I was hoping Mr. Connors would give me his autograph and maybe some advice.”
Eldon was shocked at first. No one had ever turned down an autograph from him. But then his face grew into a huge smile. He just looked over at Sean who was equally shocked. Raquel, on the other hand, was smiling with pride. Her eyes started to mist a bit.
Sean finally responded to the boy, “I would be happy to give you an autograph. Do you have something for me to sign?”
Apparently during dinner, the young man had spotted Sean, Eldon and Raquel. He brought up a picture on his iPhone of Sean giving his acceptance speech at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The boy then talked the restaurant manager into printing the picture.
The boy handed the picture to Sean.
Sean didn’t think he could be more shocked, “Do you always carry a picture of me around with you?”
“No sir, when I saw you here, I brought it up on my phone and the manager printed it for me.”
“That was very clever. What’s your name?”
“Josh…Josh Reynolds, sir.”
Eldon spoke up, “Where are your parents, Josh?”
Josh turned and pointed towards their table, “They’re over there, sir.” The entire restaurant was now watching their table.