Unlike Any Other

CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, stationed in the TV tower at No. 16, made the call that day. That day was April 10, 2005. In case you are not a golf or sports fan and haven’t seen that shot by Tiger Woods on No. 16 on Sunday afternoon at The Masters on April 10, 2005 you can see it and read about it at the link above. The Masters is known as a Tradition Unlike Any Other and this is one of the most famous shots in that event. Since this year is the 10th anniversary of that shot it has been getting a lot of air time the past couple of weeks.

I didn’t see that shot when it happened…or when I expected. I do remember that day and night though.

This Tradition Has Been Part of My Life

The Masters has been one of my favorite annual traditions for many years. For me, it marks the official beginning of spring. I often watched it with my father growing up and in later years when he could no longer play so it brings back good memories of spending time with him. I forced my children to watch it as they were growing up if they watched anything on Masters Sunday. They probably didn’t like it very much at the time but I think they have all come to appreciate it, if for no other reason, they know what it means to me.

I remember that Sunday for a different reason…

On this particular Sunday evening Sharin was working 2nd shift in the blood bank at the hospital and I had gone to church with the kids. I had a deacons meeting after church so I had set the VCR, yes it was a VCR back then, to record the rest of the golf tournament and I planned to watch it when I got home.

After church, Sarah and Amy went to Dairy Queen, the traditional after church place to go eat and visit. Rachel and Thomas wanted to go too but I made them wait at the church for me. I wanted to get home to see how The Masters ended and I had to be at the airport for a 5:30 flight the next morning so I still needed to pack for that trip too. I was just about to sit down and watch the end of the Masters…

Then, the phone rang…

It was a little after 9:00 and I received one of those phone calls a parent never wants to receive. It was Amy, telling me she and her sister Sarah, had been in an accident. Amy was 14 and Sarah 17 at the time. Her voice was a little shaky because she was understandably shaken up and worried about her sister still trapped in the car on the side of a hill. She wanted me to get there as soon as I could. I am pretty sure I yelled at Rachel and Thomas, 10 and 9 at the time, to get to the car and to pray for their sisters and we hit the road.

A Stretch of Road Unlike Any Other

The section of Highway or Route 21 between Hillsboro, where we lived, and DeSoto, where we went to church, is a 2 lane stretch of road called “Blood Alley”known as one of the most dangerous in Missouri. As we neared the accident site traffic was backed up as it was stopped in both directions due to the accident. I got as far as we could and parked the car and told Rachel and Thomas to stay in the car. I didn’t know what I would see when I got to the accident.

Church Family – Unlike Any Other

Our church family from First Baptist Church DeSoto was already in motion doing what a church family does – taking care of its family members when they are in need and we were in need. Sharin had called William, our Minister of Music, and he was on his way from DeSoto to pick up Thomas and Rachel and take care of them for us. Pastor Jeremy was on his way to Jefferson Memorial, where Sharin was working and waiting and where Amy would be going soon. After Amy was checked out he drove Sharin, Amy, Tyler and Gene, our Youth Pastor, to St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, the destination of Sarah’s Air Evac helicopter ride.

An Accident, Unfortunately, Like Many Others

Upon reaching the scene I first saw Amy, who was understandably shaken up, upset, and worried about Sarah who was still in the car. The car was sitting precariously on the side of the hill facing back toward DeSoto, where they were coming from. It was being supported by cables attached to the fire truck parked on the road to keep it from rolling further down the hill. The paramedics were working to get her out of the car.

Rachel & Thomas looking at Sarah's Mitsubishi Mirage
Rachel & Thomas looking at Sarah’s Mitsubishi Mirage

I talked to Sarah briefly in the ambulance before she was taken up the road a short distance to a helipad for her flight to the hospital. She was worried she had done something wrong. I assured her she had done nothing wrong. There was nothing else she could have done. She told me and Sharin, who was on the phone with me at the time, she was sorry and she was going to be fine.

I talked to the officers and learned they were hit head on by a drunk driver who was in their lane as they came over a hill. We would learn later he was in the process of trying to pass 4 cars at once and, obviously, didn’t make it. There was nothing Sarah could have done as there is no shoulder on the road, just a hillside.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence in our society 

After both ambulances left I made my way back to the car and talked to William and made sure he had Rachel and Thomas and began the drive to the hospital where Sarah was headed, about 45 minutes away. I’m sure I broke some speed limits to get there. I also had to call Ramon, my boss at the time, along the way and let him know I would not be able to fly out to California the next day for work as had been planned. I was blessed to work for someone who was very understanding and supportive. He told me to do whatever I needed to do to take care of my family and not worry about work.

I don’t remember much more about that drive except I was doing a lot of praying.

At the Hospital

When I arrived at the emergency room or shortly thereafter I was greeted by several of Sarah’s friends and two former youth pastors, Jimmy and Jeremy. The church was there. This was just a small indication of the impact both Sarah and Amy had made, up to that point in their lives, on those around them.

When Pastor Jeremy arrived I remember him telling Sarah that God was watching over her and the reason she was still here is He still had big plans for her life. I believe that was true then and is still true today. They stayed with us praying and waiting most of the night while Sarah was in the first of many surgeries. I don’t know what we would have done without their support.

The Church – His Hands and Feet

In the following days and weeks we had meals prepared and delivered and prayers prayed and delivered for all of us as we walked through this ordeal. Russ and Chris built a wheelchair ramp for our house so we would be able to roll Sarah in when we got her home. To say we were blessed and cared for by our church family is an understatement.

I realize this happens in churches across the country every day. Maybe some of you reading this don’t. Some think of a big building with a steeple as the church. That is a false belief. 

Until you are on the receiving end of this kind of love you never really know what it means. It is overwhelming and humbling. We will be forever grateful for how our church wrapped its arms around us.

We also had Sharin’s mother, Rennie, with us for a few weeks after the accident. Ronnie, Sharin’s brother, made the 12 hour trip to bring her up. She helped with everything around the house as I was going back and forth to the hospital. Sharin only left the hospital twice during the two weeks Sarah was there. She can be strong-willed at times. That might be where our children get that trait from.

Meanwhile…back to The Masters

I am not sure when I saw that shot on No. 16 at the 2005 Masters and the remaining holes and playoff won by Tiger Woods but I am sure I did at some point. The next few weeks were quite busy.

I can tell you whenever I do see that shot replayed I am reminded of something that has nothing to do with golf or the Masters. Those memories do help remind me of what is important. I wish I could say they made me a better person but I am still working on that. I am a work in progress.

I can also tell you we all (except for Sharin) made it to The Masters for the first time in 2007 and Sharin did finally make it this year and got to experience it with Amy.

Masters-Mon_CX7430038

Priorities change…

The Masters is called a Tradition Unlike Any Other. At the same time it IS just a golf tournament. It ranks far below Serving a God Unlike Any Other and being part of two Families Unlike Any Other. I expect I will continue my annual tradition, probably like millions of others, of watching a golf tournament in Augusta in April called The Masters. However, when they do replay that shot, and they will, my thoughts will go elsewhere. Now you know where.

I thank God for my many blessings every day. I hope by sharing this experience and some of the blessings in my life it might remind you of some of yours and you will count yours every day too…

Until next time…

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P.S. If you want to know more about the accident and recovery from Sarah’s perspective you can read more at the links below on her blog. She wrote about it as only she can do in a series of blog posts last year that are very well done in my opinion.

Be Careful What You Pray For

April 10, 2005

The Hospital

Hospital Life Lessons

A Change of Heart

 

 

The Masters…A Tradition Now Like Many Others

Whether you are a golfer or golf fan if you watch TV in March and early April every year you have probably seen commercial for The Masters, the first of the 4 major professional golf tournaments every year hosted and played at The Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The tag line CBS uses for these ads is, “The Masters, a tradition unlike any other.”

Golf, A Game Like No Other

I have been a golfer and continue to be a fan of golf, the game and many of those who play it. I marvel at the skills they display and the game of golf itself is like no other. The tournaments are contested on different courses each week and the professional golfers depend on their own skills, work ethic, character, and mental toughness. Golfers pay close attention to the rules of the game and often call penalties on themselves even when no one else might have seen the infraction. They also hold their playing partners to the highest standard and can call attention to a rule infraction by their playing partners in order to protect the field. All of these factors determine how successful any golfer is or is not on the PGA Tour. Those are some of the primary reasons I love the game, the golfer is dependent on himself for success or failure and himself or herself alone and the character normally displayed is not common any more in today’s society.

A Tradition For Me

The Masters every April has always been my favorite tournament of the year and it has been a tradition for me to watch The Masters on Sunday afternoon every year for the past 40 years. I have not missed very many. Ask my family. Our children have grown up watching it and we have been there to practice rounds a couple of times. Augusta National is a beautiful place, one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Look back at Abstract or just a different perspective? if you want to see more thoughts on Augusta National.

That is another reason I love golf. It is played on some of the most beautiful places in the world. Augusta National is the top of that list for me and millions of others. The Masters always marks the official beginning of spring for me. I think I can speak intelligently about the subject as I am somewhat familiar with it.

All that to say, what I am about to say about what The Masters did today is hard for me to say but it has so affected me I cannot not say it.

Bobby Jones and The Masters

Bobby Jones along with Clifford Roberts founded The Masters and was known for his integrity while playing the game and in his life after retiring from competitive golf at the age of 28. He was an amateur and played the game because he loved the game. He once saw his ball move, after addressing it, a rules violation, and called a penalty on himself. No one else saw the infraction and even the official recommended he not call the penalty because no one else had seen it. He did call the penalty on himself because he said he would know he saw it move and it was an infraction. This happened during The U.S. Open, another of the four major tournaments each year, and that one stroke caused him to tie for the tournament lead at the end of regulation and he eventually lost the tournament in a playoff.

There are many other instances such as this throughout the history of golf and this integrity of the game is one of the reasons I love it and sets golf apart from many other sports I believe.

Fast Forward to Today, April 13, 2013

Yesterday, during the second round of The Masters, Tiger Woods, one of the best golfers of all time, committed an infraction on the 15th hole. This was seen by millions of people and was clearly a violation of the rule. He made an illegal drop in his words, “I went back to where I played it from,” Woods said, “but I went 2 yards further back and I took, tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit.”  Rule 26-1 is the rule in question. Since he signed his scorecard for a 6 on this hole instead of a 7 he signed an incorrect scorecard and should be disqualified.

The Masters Rules committee said they saw the drop and did not think it was a rule violation, a sad commentary on the rules committee, and did not mention this to Tiger then or when he finished his round before he signed his scorecard. Apparently a television viewer or viewers called in to say Tiger had violated the rules so they then decided to review the issue.

It is the player’s responsibility to know the rules of the game and abide by the rules. If they have a question about any of the rules there is always an official either with their group or one can be summoned to answer any question they have about a rule or situation. Tiger did not ask for help from an official. It is irrelevant whether Tiger thought he was breaking a rule or not. Ignorance of the rule does not imply you do not have to abide by it. If that was the case then all golfers would just plead ignorance when a rule violation was in question.

Review Not Handled Like All Others

Normally, when there is a question about a rule, an official is asked to make a ruling, the ruling is made and play continues. This is normally done before the player signs his scorecard. This did not happen Friday with this situation. Instead, the rules committee apparently had to think about the implications of this issue overnight as they did not summon Tiger to discuss this until Saturday morning. This is one of the reasons I am disappointed with The Masters. They have always been above reproach when it comes to their tradition and the rules of the game in keeping with the spirit of the founder of the tournament Bobby Jones.

Tiger Woods had several hours after this meeting with the rules committee to consider doing the honorable and right thing by disqualifying himself but chose not to. He could have gained much respect and many new fans and possibly more self-respect if he had and would not have his career marked with this asterisk and have “the Tiger rule” follow him around the rest of his career. I did not really expect him to do this but was hoping he might surprise me and the rest of the golfing world.

A Stroke of Preference

This mystique and standard was breached today with this ruling in much the same manner as Kobe Bryant or LeBron James do not get called for fouls that other, non-marquee players do get called for in basketball. Special treatment for Tiger Woods was given today as I have no doubt that if this was any other participant in the tournament this week disqualification would have been the result and it would have been handled Friday night and not Saturday morning. The reasons that seem obvious to me are TV rating and dollars. I never thought The Masters would lower itself to this level but since they have their tag line for me will be, “The Masters, a tradition like many others” and that is sad for me.

Breaking A 40 Year Tradition is Hard

So I will be breaking a 40 year tradition for me tomorrow afternoon. I will not be watching The Masters while Tiger Woods is still playing as I do not want my TV to be counted among the numbers that make up the ratings for the telecast and I want my integrity to remain intact. I cannot condemn their actions and then watch anyway. That would be hypocritical. I know my boycott will not make any difference to CBS or The Masters but it will make a difference for me. It will be hard, as breaking any tradition that has lasted 40 years would be.

After he is done I will probably watch the end of the tournament. I can’t say for sure right now what I will do next year. I do know Augusta National is still one of the most beautiful places on earth and I would like to visit again. I have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Augusta so I have another reason to visit as well. However, as with people, any time credibility is lost it is hard for it to be regained, if it ever is, and it does take time. That will be true of The Masters for me. They no longer hold the highest level of honor and credibility they did Thursday for me. I hope that does return but it will take some time if it does.

Until then, The Masters has now become a tradition like many others, a sad day for golf.

Maybe I will watch, Bobby Jones, A Stroke of Genius to remind me of the integrity of the man who started this tournament. Maybe The Masters Rules Committee and Tiger Woods should re-watch this too.

Those are my thoughts on the subject. I would love to hear yours in the comments.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 04/13/2013