I am thankful for New Orleans PGA golf tournaments. This is for several reasons which I will soon explain. The tournament has a long history dating back to 1938 when it was originally held at City Park. The current tournament is called the Zurich Classic and is played at the TPC Louisiana golf course in Avendale. Prior to that, it was at English Turn Golf and Country Club, and before that at Lakewood Country Club.
As with the previous two years, I was invited to the Zurich Classic this week as a guest of Steve Windham from the Lieutenant Governor’s office to showcase my Audubon Golf Trail book as part of the Audubon Golf Trail booth. Many thanks to Steve and the other workers, Jason, Luciene, Michelle, Evelyn, Manuel, Millie, and another Michelle. This is one fun group of people.
In previous years, I have fond memories of attending the Greater New Orleans Open at Lakewood Country Club with my dad. We never failed to have great times there, following such notables as Frank Beard, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson. I remember not caring for Jack Nicklaus too much until I saw him play in New Orleans, then became a devoted fan. At that time, there was none better. I also went to a couple of tournaments at Jack’s course, English Turn. There I remember following Jack and Fred Couples. Back when it was played at Lakewood it was called the Greater New Orleans Open. Dad and I would jokingly called it “Ganoo.” after the initials for the Greater New Orleans Open (Dad and I had similar wierd and warped senses of humor. We could find humor in the most mundane things: I remember on one vacation someone in the family misread the sign on the “Litter Barrels” placed by the side of the road. From then on they became “Little Barrels”. We always laughed when the first family member announced another little barrel was approaching).
This week, I mostly worked in the Audubon Trail booth, but had an opportunity to follow David Toms for 5 holes on Friday. Through Saturday, that was his best round, a 68, four under par. I thought he was hitting the ball beautifully. On the sixth hole I noticed a couple in the gallery that were obviously over-joyed parents who were watching their young son carry the score standard for David Toms’ and K.J. Choi’s group. There happened to be a medium sized alligator just out of the lake on the hole with his head raised up. The proud parents got a photo of their son with his standard and the aligator in the background. I spoke to these parents a couple of times. They, as well as the son, were so excited that he got to be in the group with his hero David Toms.
We had an informal putting contest in our booth. The golfers that could hole the most putts in a row were given free games of golf. On Thursday, we had a guy hit 30 in a row, then another on Friday actually made 102 in a row, believe it or not. Saturday’s record was 34, I think. I enjoyed watching the young kids putt. We had two brothers, by the name of Koby and Caleb, who putted amazingly. I told them that they would probably be playing in the real tournament one day. Remember those names! By the way, I’ve never seen so many kids who are obviously Ricky Fowler fans – they all wear his patented hat; some go as far as to wear the complete outfit-one small kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old was decked out in Ricky’s Sunday Orange, complete with orange hat, shirt, pants, and shoes. Wow!
We were fortunate to have the Lieutenant Governor, Jay Dardenne, stop by the booth on Saturday, and Steve got interviewed on the radio for the NOLA Golf Show.
Since they wouldn’t allow me to bring my camera to the golf tournament, the photo above is from my book. It is a picture of the seventeenth green from the eighteenth hole cart path. I used this photo because, by coincidence, our booth was very close to the place this photo was taken (By the way, the egret was actually taken at Olde Oaks in Shreveport and I photoshopped him into the TPC photo for effect). The photos below I took with my cell phone. They do allow cell phones at this tournament. The first photo shows our booth. You may be able to see the similarity view to the first photo. The final photo is from the Eighteenth Hole Cypress Suites from the Audubon Golf Trail sweet on the second floor. You can see the eighteenth (in the forground) and ninth greens.
Finally, my friend Gay aske
d me to post a photo of Tripod, the famous three legged alligator who hangs out on the back nine at TPC Louisiana. I was playing number 18 with friends when we spotted him lying on a rake next to the sand trap near the eighteenth green. I didn’t actually realize this was Tripod until I saw a TV video of him and noticed the two missing tail spikes. I wish I had gotten a closer picture from the front (his missing leg is the right front one), but the chicken in me took over. Here you go, Gay:
Golfer may drop another golf ball without penalty in a safe position, no closer to the hole, should an alligator sit on, guard, ingest, or otherwise endanger said golfer when approaching his/her original golf ball. Golfers may only evoke this rule if the original golf ball is within approximately ten gator lengths of the ball. The use of this rule should rest solely on the judgement of said golfer. Measurement is discouraged, as is original ball retrieval.
© rt tulley
dad and i so loved
the joy of watching
the great golf professionals at ganoo
watching them boom the ball
and see the great things they could do
and after every tournament
we would feel so inspired
it certainly looked easy
to be as good as we aspired
but on the return back home
it didn’t take but a few shots
of chunks, dunks, and ob’s
to realize that we were still as bad
as we originally thought.
© rt tulley