by Jeff Skinner
For a few hours yesterday it seemed like the 60’s or 70’s as the “Greats of the Game” transported us back to their time. A time when Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Trevino dominated the game and set professional golf on a path to where it is today.
Thousands cheered from the first drive to the last putt and every pitch, chip and wise crack in between. In what turned out to be an historic day for both fans and the players alike The Greats of the Game at The Insperity Championship was a resounding success. And not just for the fans. Player, Palmer and Trevino all raved about the day and even Jack Nicklaus who normally avoids these nostalgic outings summed up the way everyone felt, “We had a blast.”
As the nine greats that took part in the exhibition played their rounds they were joined by dozens of regular Champions Tour players as they joined the ranks of the fans to follow these icons. Andy Bean choked up as he said, “It’s because of these men that we all have jobs.”
Player, Palmer and Nicklaus spent their round needling each other and joking between shots but when it was their time to hit, it was all business. And they all delivered some great shots with Palmer’s 20 foot birdie putt on the eighteenth a fitting end to an amazing day. And yes, they won the match.
I sat with my sons as we watched my greats play and the significance of the day wasn’t lost on them. They’re too young to have ever seen any of them play serious golf but certainly know their impact on the game they love. We cheered as Nicklaus stiffed an iron, Player split the fairway and Palmer sank that final putt.
These men made golf in the modern age. And generations of golf fans owe them a great debt for the way they played and for the example they set as sportsmen and role models . If we are lucky we’ll get to see them again and again.