Memorial Day weekend provided ample opportunity for all of us to pay tribute to the many heroes who sacrificed their lives in defense of this great country, and for that we are truly grateful.
As you all know, the holiday marks the unofficial start of the summer season on the East End, and this one will be different from the past as we deal with the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 has kept live sports from being played, but spectator-free live golf has returned to television. For the second week in a row, a charity match was played to benefit the fight against the pandemic. “The Match: Champions for Charity” event featured some of the biggest names in the sports universe. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson partnered with NFL star quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to raise $20 million, double what was hoped for.
I am sure that golfers everywhere took some delight in seeing shots being hit that reminded them of their own game. The weather was far from great, but I have to give the players credit, as they played through a lot of heavy rain at times and seemed to have fun doing it.
The Match was played on Woods’ home course, The Medalist in Hobe Sound, FL. He and Manning played best, winning the match one-up. Brady, who partnered with Mickelson, really struggled at times, but he did hole-out from 100 yards, which was exciting.
Starting June 8, tournament golf returns with the Charles Schwab Invitational in Fort Worth, TX. No spectators will be allowed on the grounds, but it is a giant step to getting things back to normal — whatever that is.
My focus always seems to be on those playing golf for a living or involved in the game in some way. Since golf can be a lifelong game, at some point, if their game and health stay sharp, a golfer may be able to shoot their age one day. These thoughts surfaced for me when I learned that a true golf legend on the East End, Shelter Island summer resident and 101-year-old Sidney Beckwith, had passed away. To say Beckwith loved golf would be an understatement.
I’m pretty sure very little thought is given to the possibility of shooting your age, but Beckwith felt that complete satisfaction a whopping 1464 times. He kept meticulous records, and every time he shot his age he insisted that everyone playing with him sign the scorecard and attest to the score.
Beckwith was a member of Gardiner’s Bay Country Club on Shelter Island. I was fortunate enough to have played with him once or twice. I always found Beckwith to be a perfect gentleman who really enjoyed golf. With that joy in his heart, it comes as no surprise that Beckwith, who was president of the club back in 1962, led the search to find a PGA professional worthy of the head professional position. Beckwith threw his support behind Bob DeStefano, and what a wise choice that was. Bobby D, as I call him, served Gardiner’s Bay for 50 years.
As a youngster growing up in New Jersey, DeStefano was a good player who won the Club Caddies tournament four years in a row. His junior golf program was known as one of the best, he was highly regarded by his members, and was widely recognized as one of the elite club professionals on Long Island.
Beckwith’s achievements led me to dig through the record books. I was amazed to find out that shooting your age or below it is really pretty rare. The odds are one in nine million. Incidentally, John Powell, at 86 years young, shot a jaw-dropping 22 shots under his age in a PGA section senior event in California, and record that still stands.
Remember to stay safe and do your best to keep up your game with age. Not everyone has that luxury, and just think, the older you get, the easier it will be to shoot your age.