What a Day


I remember it was a hectic day, full of tension. Im not even sure if I remember it from the actual experience, or the countless times the story was told around the kitchen table, or at family gatherings.
But we were out on Long Island for the summer. My dad was in Pennsylvania staying at Arnold Palmers house and playing in a big golf tournament. We shared a house with our cousins and it was always a cauldron of activity. My mother was pregnant and she decided to watch the tournament in a more serene setting and brought me along. As the afternoon wore on, she watched the flickering black and white images practically alone. I didnt spend too much time in front of the television that day. In fact I didnt watch my father play all that often; there were toys to break and other damage to be done. But this tournament was different. After the tournament ended and we were driving home, my mother told me it was a very important day for our family. I wanted to know why and she said, Because today your father became the PGA champion.
The day got even more important. The television coverage had ended without a winners interview. When we got went back to the house we were sharing, we tried to find radio coverage of the interview. As the airwaves were being scanned and the reality of the situation was settling in, my mother went into labor. She rushed to the hospital and gave birth to Anthony James Marr. August 15, 1965, was a pretty good day for the Marr family.
The first time I saw the Wannamaker Trophy was in 1977 at Pebble Beach. I was 15 and immediately looked for my name. Sure, I didnt put it there, my father had, and as always the name was our special link. From that day on I regarded PGA champions differently. My grandfather was a member of the PGA of America, as was my father. Anyone who would win their championship and put their name on the trophy with my dads would enter a special fraternity, in my mind. I knew what the win meant to my father, and somehow felt an innate understanding when new champions would try to articulate their feelings.
In 1993 Paul Azinger was a very popular, tough competitor who hadnt won a major. My dad had been in the same position 28 years before, and together we quietly pulled hard for Zinger. In 1997 Davis Love III won at Winged Foot, where my father had been an assistant pro. It was fitting that another son of a PGA member would win the last major championship my father would ever see. Davis call to my fathers hospital bed from the Ryder Cup later that year was a wonderful act of kindness. Dad succumbed to cancer less than two weeks later.
Every once in a while I get a chance to see the Wannamaker Trophy up close. Last year I was working at the PGA Championship when Tiger defended his title. He brought the trophy to the press tent, did the winners interview and was escorted to a golf cart to be whisked away to the next responsibility. In the moments before he left, I found my fathers name on the trophy and ran my fingers across the etching. For a split second I was a kid again, watching my dad become a champion.