In golf, there is a predetermined number of strokes that a golfer should take to complete a hole. That number is considered par for the hole. If a golfer completes a hole in one less stroke than par, it is called a birdie. If it’s two less strokes than par, it’s an eagle. An albatross is a very rare bird and so is making three strokes under par. This weekend was very rare in the golf world, with three monumental stories.
In Atlanta, Browns Mill Golf Course was the host of the National College Black Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation Golf Tournament. The tournament takes place during the annual Hall of Fame Weekend and showcases golf teams from Division I and Division II. The Hall of Fame awards scholarships to participating schools in support of their golf programs. It is the only NCAA sanctioned event for teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). This year was the 31st annual playing on Friday and Saturday. Alabama State and Livingstone were the defending champions in Division I and II respectively. Division I teams consisted of Prairie View, Florida A&M, Alabama State, Alcorn State, North Carolina Central, Fisk, Texas Southern, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Division II teams consisted of Johnson C. Smith, Paine, Morehouse, Miles, and Virginia Union. Alabama State was rare as they repeated as champions shooting a combined 573. Texas Southern finished second with a score of 583 and North Carolina Central was third with a score of 592. Virginia Union shot a 587 which was good enough for first place in Division II. Miles and Morehouse finished second and third with scores of 600 and 639 respectively. Congratulations to all the players and coaches on an incredible tournament but especially to the following top five players:
Renoir Knox (137) – Texas Southern
Charles Griffin (140) – Alabama State
Quincy Stith (141) – Alabama State
Sumner Tate (143) – North Carolina Central
Jordan Bohannan (143) – Alcorn State
Joshua Mohun (141) – Virginia Union
Tommy Swearingen (142) – Morehouse
Allen Day (146) – Virginia Union
Paul Meintes (147) – Virginia Union
DeJuan Powell (147) – Johnson C. Smith
Less than 10 miles away from the HBCU tournament, the professional golfers were hosting their final tournament at East Lake Golf Course. The Tour Championship winner would take home $1.53 million. The season ending FedExCup trophy would also be awarded along with a $10 million bonus. Dustin Johnson was leading on the final day, and seemed like a shoe in to win. He struggled on the first nine holes and never seemed to bounce back. Rory McIlroy was in sixth place and three shots back starting on Sunday. He chipped in on hole 16 for an eagle and placed himself in contention to win. Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell both had putts at the end to win, but neither could seal the deal. McIlroy, Moore, and Chappell all finished at 12 under in regulation, forcing a playoff. McIlroy would prevail by birding the fourth playoff hole from 15 feet. What a coincidence it was on hole 16, which sparked his comeback. Because Johnson finished outside of the top five, it meant McIlroy won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup. He won $11.53 million over the weekend, not a bad pay day. It was rare because it was only his second win of the entire season.
It’s very rare that a golfer comes along and changes the landscape of the game. That’s exactly what Arnold Palmer did before he passed away Sunday at the age of 87. He won The Masters four times, The Open Champion twice, and the U.S. Open. He won the PGA Player of the Year twice, the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour four times, played on six Ryder Cup teams and was captain twice. He was named the “Athlete of the Decade” for the 1960s, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. Palmer helped start the Golf Channel and the Champions Tour, where he won 10 times, including five majors. It’s fitting why his nickname was “The King”. He was truly an ambassador for golf. Arnold even had his own drink named after him, lemonade mixed with Ice Tea. It doesn’t get any better than that. Tiger Woods said, “Arnold meant everything to golf. Are you kidding me? I mean, without his charisma, without his personality in conjunction with TV — it was just the perfect symbiotic growth. You finally had someone who had this charisma, and they’re capturing it on TV for the very first time. Everyone got hooked to the game of golf via TV because of Arnold.”
The odds of getting an albatross in golf are 6 million to one. This last weekend in September has provided some memorable, reflected and rare accomplishments in the golfing world. Now I think those odds are 5,999,999 to one.