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Jim's Jottings

Great ending to a lifetime of golfing

March 14, 2012 - I swear I came out of my mother's womb swinging a golf club, and I've been working on that swing every since. (It's a writers privilege to exaggerate to make a point.)

The point being that I was born into golf. My daddy helped build a golf course in Kalamazoo in the early 20s. My first backyard golf swings were with his old wood-shafted clubs.

When I grew strong enough to carry a full golf bag, I got a job caddying at Owosso Country Club -- that was in 1939.

Now, after watching Tommy Gillis finish second in the Honda Classic two weeks ago at Palm Beach, I feel complete.

I've had a hole-in-one, shot an under par round, met Arnold Palmer, played golf in Scotland and accepted unwelcome advice and criticism from ne-er-do-wells in half a dozen golf leagues.

That's my legacy. Now the climax. Over 20 years ago we had a membership at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion when Tommy Gillis was learning the game and caddying.

For about the same 20 years his daddy, Charlie, was working at Oxford Hills Colf and Country Club. I never teed off there without hearing Charlie shout, "Nice shot, Alice!"

We kept track of Tommy as he went through the European Tour, Mini-tour, his getting his card and making the first cut with the named pros and playing in 120 tournaments.

Now he's in the Honda Classic. He's leading after two rounds. His putter is on fire, sinking several 30-foot putts for pars.

On the last day of the tourney, he's paired with the leader by one shot, Rory McIlory of Scotland. He's 22, Gillis is 43.

The cameras follow closely. Coming up behind those two is Tiger Woods, getting hotter and hotter with his woods, irons and putter. Rory stayed steady, and so did Tommy, though they could hear the Tiger worshipping crowd whooping and hollering loudly.

When Tiger finished he was 1-up on Tommy and 2-up on Rory. That put Tommy in third. Still great for our boy.

Then on the final hole Rory and Tommy birdied, putting Tommy and Tiger tied for second place.

As Tommy walked off the green his smile widened and our hearts joyed for him and his family.

He had met the pressure, and won. Gone were the thoughts of injuries that had sidelined him, in came feelings of determination. He said in an interview later, "I feel I can do it."

His satisfying smile was so warming to all his followers of all those years.

I'm sure it was also warming to Tommy that his second place finish brought him a half-mil in prize money.

He's taking a week off then playing the Transition tourney at Innisbrook in Florida.

- - - 0 - - -

Now, back to my Daddy and his 1920s golf clubs. Like so many things, packaging for one reason or another causes makers to want to change things.

In this case, golf clubs names were dropped in favor of numbers. So here are some club names and their number replacements, as per Merriam-Webster.

Brassie- 2 wood.

Spoon- 3 wood.

Cleek - 5 wood.

Mashie- 5 iron.

Niblick- 9 iron.

Wedge- 8 iron.

Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.
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