Its Wednesday afternoon. Im flying back to Orlando from New York to cover the U.S. Open from the Golf Channel studios. I just spent three days at Bethpage talking to guys and getting some inside info. Ive been to so many U.S. Opens, it feels like its in my DNA, and I hated leaving.
I just finished reading an article in Golf Digest. It was a letter Bob Duval wrote to his father, and it hit me pretty hard. Ive had so many emotions swirling around inside this week, I realized this letter would be the best way to release them.
Every time I cover a major championship, I feel like I get a chance to visit with you for a short stretch of time. Its bittersweet. Im at an event you loved, but I feel like Im here alone among 40,000 people. I know how much you loved the New York metropolitan area and how proud you were when majors came to your adopted home. I remember the last major you ever attended, the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot. You were so sick, but nothing would have kept you away. I remember Jim Awtrey arranging a cart to help you get around your beloved old club. Just one of the many things friends of the game will do for one another.
This Monday I was walking from the putting green to the practice tee. One of the marshals said, Would you like a ride, Mr. Marr? I thanked him and I told him Id walk. It took a couple of steps for me to realize that he hadnt read my badge but had recognized me, and it immediately brought me back to the days when Id follow you around and hear as people would notice you and say nice things about you out of earshot. That always made me proud to be your son.
One of your adopted sons, Butch, had dinner on Monday night with your three kids, me, Tony and Liz. It was very special. We laughed and told stories and got on each other and loved each other. It was like the old days. Claude looked after you, you looked after the Harmon boys, and now they look after us. Im sure someday well continue the circle.
I was walking in the parking lot yesterday and came upon David Fay. He smiled and said, I wish your dad could see this. He didnt need to say anything more. We both knew you would be so proud. Proud of your friend for having the gumption, tenacity and skill to hold our national championship at this great and challenging venue. Proud that the rest of the USGA would heed Davids advice and that the State of New York, Rees Jones and so many people who love the game would come together and organize the logistics for this event. Proud that a municipal course, like the one you grew up on at Houston's Memorial Park, could test the worlds greatest, and hold its head up. Proud to see your boys at NBC straining to get going, ready to showcase their passion, enthusiasm, care and skill in creating the best broadcasts in the game.
I wish you could have seen Tony Marr ragging on Butch about some of his teaching techniques, and Butch giving it right back. I wish you could have seen Liz Marr Hallas gliding through the crowd at Bethpage like you taught her, giggling with Billy Harmon and soaking up the atmosphere. I wish you could have seen the Jenkins' in the media center. Dan is still as crusty as ever, and Sallys still gorgeous, smart and funny.
I wish you could see the Harmon boys, all four of them, and their pupils, playing the game the way it should be played. I wish you could see Tiger Woods. You said hed be special, and hes even better than that. I wish you could see some of the updates Ill be doing this week for The Golf Channel. I think that might make you proud, too.
Its time again for that special week that you loved for so many years. The week that we would so often spend together. A week that golf families use to celebrate the coming of summer and their love of the game. The week that culminates on Fathers Day. I miss you, dad, and I so wish you could see it all.
Then again, perhaps you can.