Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Golfing greats gather at Rock Barn

Walking into the banquet room inside the clubhouse at Rock Barn Wednesday morning was, as someone there said, like walking into a museum.

Outside, the pro-am for the Champions Tour event was being played with today's stars on a tour that's built around yesterday.

But in the banquet room, scattered around circular tables with bacon, eggs and coffee in front of them, were the so-called Great Grand Champions of the PGA Tour.

There was Billy Casper, the most underrated great player of all time. There was Miller Barber, Don January, Dow Finsterwald and Gene Littler.

There was Lee Elder and Charlie Sifford, who didn't win as many events as some players in the room but had everlasting impacts on the sport. There was Walter Morgan and Jim Ferree and others.

Bob Goalby told stories as he introduced each player to the amateurs who were playing in the nine-hole pro-am with the legends. He made jokes about Doug Sanders missing a short putt to lose the British Open and found other targets, all in good and gentle fun.

A few times each year, these old guys get together to play a little golf, tell some stories and bask in the glow of who they are and what they did.

Golf is bigger, flashier and different than it was when they were among the best in the world.

But like it does for all of us who play, it remains the tie that binds.