Chip Shots: And a Memorial Day ‘thank you’

Live Golf Is Back




As Memorial Day approaches and we celebrate the arrival of the summer season under very trying conditions, we should all reflect on the tremendous sacrifice so many military men and women have made to preserve our freedom and our way of life.

There are many reasons that I believe that growing up on the East End was one of the greatest gifts of my life. Early memories of my East End summers were highlighted by three big events: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Those three milestones have not changed, but what has completely changed is my perception of the time in between them. Growing up I always had the feeling the time from Memorial Day to Labor Day was an eternity. Now, it just feels like a long nap.

Thankfully, the long wait for live golf on television is over. It has seemed like an eternity but, who’s counting? I think it’s been 15,598 minutes between the last shot at The Players and the first tee ball at the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match at the Seminole Gold Club in Florida. I guess I’ve been counting, but mainly because golf is not only my passion, but because reporting on it has been my career.

The heart, soul, and goal of the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity game was to raise a lot of money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Nurses Foundation to help fund the fight against COVID-19. Yes, playing golf again was fun for the players and for those watching at home, but it was nice to see that over $5 million was raised.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and No. 5 Dustin Johnson teamed up against 27th-ranked Rickie Fowler and 21-year-old sensation Matthew Wolff, who has what looks to be a really weird, but effective golf swing. But yes, this star-studded group was a little rusty.

It might be said that the biggest star of the day was the golf course. Seminole Golf Club has always maintained its privacy and this was the first time the public had been able to see this exclusive masterpiece. Seminole came to be in 1929, the brainchild of the extremely wealthy E.F. Hutton, who selected none other than Donald Ross to work his magic on this wonderful piece of property along the Atlantic Ocean in Juno.

On the East End, we know a little bit about nationally-known exclusive golf clubs. Leading the way would be Southampton’s Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and National Golf Links of America, and East Hampton’s Maidstone Club — all great courses that boast a very select membership roster. Seminole takes great pride in flying well below the radar. This masterpiece was such a great test that Ben Hogan would show up a month prior to the Masters to get his game ready for Augusta. It was very common also to see Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Bing Crosby among other famous names taking on the Seminole challenge. Our own East Hampton summer resident and renowned golf architect, Rees Jones, is also a member.

According to Seminole folklore, there are three things needed in order to be considered for membership — a single-digit handicap, well known social and professional connections, and deep pockets. The most recent high-profile member is new Tampa Bay Buckeneers quarterback Tom Brady.

Seminole is also a golf-only club, not a country club. The food options are limited by design. There’s no breakfast or fancy fine-dining dinner, just lunch — which by the way is not nearly as great as lunch at National Golf Links.

Back in the late 1940s and early ‘50s the head professional was 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon. In fact, Harmon’s son Butch learned to play golf at Seminole when he was only 6 years old. Of course, Butch is now a well-known, well-respected golf coach and was Tiger Woods’ first coach when he turned professional.

As a side note, more and more courses are opening up for walkers-only play. It seems the shortage of toilet paper in this country has been replaced with the scarcity of golf pull carts.

In honor of all those who served this great nation, we say thank you. Stay safe, be well. This too shall pass.

bobvoiceofgolf@gmail.com