United we stand


Everyone remembers.

The college student whose simple world had just been complicated to the extreme, the young adult who was haunted by images of passenger planes turned into weapons of mass destruction and especially the businessman who has spent a decade trying to make sense of it all.

Whatever byproduct or baggage that was born from Sept. 11, 2001, the single certainty is that everyone remembers where they were when the world changed.

For Lucas Glover the events of 9/11 crashed into his idyllic college world just after a morning coaching education class during his senior year at Clemson. The future U.S. Open champion was in his room when a friend called.

“My best friend and I would go to lunch at 11:15 (a.m.), that was our deal. So I got back to the room and he called me and said, ‘Put on the TV.’ I had no idea. It was between the two impacts (at the World Trade Center),” Glover recalls.

Glover spent the next eight hours or so in Clemson’s fundraising offices watching the unexplainable. He went out and got everyone in the office lunch, then dinner, because there was nowhere else to go.

“We were amazed and in awe. I’ve said it 100 times, I could have gone and enlisted that day,” he says. “You hit every range of emotion in one day, maybe in an hour for some people.”

An ocean away Trevor Immelman had just sat down to have lunch in a London-area pub with his future wife, Carminita, when the aspiring young European Tour player was shaken by the news.

“It was a nice day and our server came up to us and was like, ‘Man, you won’t believe it … someone just flew into the World Trade Center,’” Immelman remembers.

But the South African didn’t watch the events unfold in horrific HD clarity like most of the world. Instead he gazed out of the window of his apartment and was fixated by a single thought.

“I had an apartment that was on the flight path to Heathrow (airport) and I watched those planes come in and wondered what was going through the people who were on those planes minds,” he says. “It must have been pretty scary for those people.”

For Rich Davies it would be the confluence of two similarly tragic events eight years apart that would set him on a unique path. The native South African learned of the attacks during a meeting in his Charlotte, N.C., offices, and while others spent the next few days shell-shocked and sullen, Davies marveled at how the attacks drew out the best in America.

It was a thought that returned to him eight years later when a close friend’s plane crashed on the way to New York City. That accident occurred on Sept. 11, 2009.

“The message to me was pay attention to that date,” Davies says.

From the second tragedy was born Golf 9/12. Davies, who moved his family from South Africa in 1982, had two objectives for the new organization: honor his lost friend and find a way to rekindle the unity that swept across Americana on Sept. 12, 2001.

“The day after, for me, it was special because the reasons my family came to America were never more evident than on 9/12,” says Davies, a North Carolina developer. “The entire nation displayed the kind of unity that is always under the surface but doesn’t always come out.”

On Monday players across the country will tee off in what is essentially a nationwide event linked by smart phones and powered by a unique scoring application. But the competition is secondary to what Davies and fellow co-founder Johan Immelman, Trevor’s father, hope to accomplish.

The plan, in bullet form, is to rekindle that post-9/11 patriotism one foursome at a time.

“The idea is not to just have a fun day but to remember and reflect on what you felt like on the day after,” Davies says.

Glover remembers Sept. 12 with almost the same clarity as he does 9/11.

“The unity and the passion our people had was impressive,” Glover says. “I don’t think another day or another incident will ever do that to our country again. Especially as divided as we are now.”

As does fellow Golf 9/12 ambassador Trevor Immelman, who can equate the national unity the organization is looking to reawaken to the post-apartheid days in South Africa when then-President Nelson Mandela used the national rugby team to mend a fractured country, a watershed moment that was the basis for the movie “Invictus.”

“(Mandela) always said, sport has the ability to unify a country and a group of people,” Immelman says. “We’re just trying to tap into some of that.”

It’s why Davies decided golf was the perfect medium. Golf courses across the country can be used to bring players together through camaraderie and competition and a universal scoring application was made available to participants through the organization’s website (golf912.org).

Funds raised from Monday’s event, each player makes a $12 donation, have been earmarked for four charities – the Armed Forces Fund, which provides financial assistance to military families; the 9/11, Pentagon and Flight 93 memorials; local first-responder organizations and what Davies calls a global initiative.

“We hope to provide funds to various international organizations on a grass-roots level that will help keep something like 9/11 from happening again,” he says.

But most of all Davies & Co. want Golf 9/12 participants to remember, not the shock and sadness of the initial attacks but the sense of unity and purpose that permeated the American psyche on Sept. 12, 2001.

“So many people had forgotten what we thought was important,” he says. “This is a chance to remind everyone of what we’re capable of doing.”