August 11, 1991
It's the summer of 1991, and I was working as the Director of Golf at the Geneva National Golf Club, in Lake Geneva Wisconsin. It was the grand opening of the facility, which offers 54 holes of legendary golf on three championship courses designed by golf legends Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino. This story takes place the day before I would play with Arnold Palmer (read that story here).
On this day, Lee Trevino is there to play the inaugural round on his signature golf course. This course offers terrific views and challenging play for golfers with plenty of strategically placed bunkers that will keep you on your toes. The festivities included four groups of four celebrity players, and each celebrity group played one hole with Lee.
My role in this event was to make sure my staff kept moving the gallery ropes to separate the gallery from the celebrities. I also played the last 14 holes with Trevino. On a side note, Lee birdied three of the first four holes and finished with a 68.
On the second hole, a well-known sportscaster (we will call George) from CBS was part of the celebrity foursome. On the tee, Lee noticed this guy was wearing penny loafers and had Sam Snead Blue Ridge Wilson irons with leather reminder grips. Anyone over age 40 will know what those look like.
Lee Trevino, who is not the reserved type, immediately calls this guy out and asks, "When was the last time you played golf?"
George replies that he "hit some balls yesterday to get ready".......sound familiar to anyone?
Hole two is a downhill dogleg right par four of 440 yards, and Lee lets George tee off first. George took a mighty swing. For all those who have attempted to play with 30-year-old leather grips, you know what happened next.
The club went flying straight up in the air about 20 feet.
Trevino yelled, "FOUR!"
George, who just let go of his club in front of a gallery of spectators and a legendary golf icon, was more than a little embarrassed. In good form, Lee commented: "The club went straight. Who the hell knows where the ball went."
George managed to recover and get his next tee shot down the fairway and finally to the green. As we approach the green, sure enough, we see that George's last shot landed him in a deep bunker on the front left of the green, while Lee Trevino and the other celebrities are up on the far side of the elevated green along with all the spectators.
As I come around to the bunker, George is standing there with a 9-iron, the most lofted club in the bag. It is important to note at this is a DEEP bunker with an elevated green. If you are in the bunker, you cannot even see the green surface.
He looked at me with this look of terror and befuddlement and asked, "What do I do with this?"
I said quickly. " Pick up the ball and some sand and throw it on the green as quickly as you can."
George hesitated for just a moment and followed my command.
A moment passed, and the gallery erupted with roars similar to the Masters.
I looked at George and said. "Just go with it."
Trevino ran over and looked at George and then looked at me. Neither of us gave up anything.
Trevino brought George onto the green and stated, "That is the greatest shot I never saw."
The entourage moved to the next hole, but George and his cameraman stayed behind.
That night on the local CBS sportscast, sure enough, there was George in the bunker and then a shot of his ball going right into the hole.