At Medalist’s other charity match on Sunday, every green was drivable

Golf bag lies on Medalist golf green

The author's golf bag on Medalist’s 12-hole par-3 course.

Michael Bamberger

Michael Bamberger is still on the road, keeping two club lengths from his sources. Today, in his ongoing series of Bamberger Briefly dispatches from South Florida, he files from the Medalist Golf Club.

HOBE SOUND, Fla. — I played Medalist Sunday afternoon. I was a guest of a member whom I will identify thusly: He co-designed the course. I saw only one other group. It was raining for most of it. It didn’t matter.

I was playing for a cause, Bogeys for the Brave, and that raised my game. On the 1st tee, I had pledged $50 for every bogey I made, $100 for every par and $200 for every birdie (in the unlikely event there were any). I didn’t play from the tiger tees but still the course was stout at times, in part because of the heavy, wet wind. I smoked a 17-degree hybrid into the first green from 190 yards and made a par: $100 for a good cause.

In my mind, I was playing for Mr. Morris — Morris Sims, truck driver, native son of rural Alabama, closing in on 80 and still at it, still driving, still seeing the country as few do. Where would we be right now without the truck drivers? I made a par on 2, too: $200. I don’t make back-to-back pars often.

Before I headed out, I watched some of the other match — the Tiger-Peyton v. Phil-Tom charity exhibition — on a clubhouse TV. This would be a good time to point out that I played Medalist’s 12-hole par-3 course, deep on the property, with its own charming, weathered clubhouse, with screen doors, books — and a whirlpool bath. High-cotton living. The shirt that Greg Norman wore when he won his first professional event, in 1976, is on a wall. A classic, bright green, with osprey wings for a collar. 

The shirt that Greg Norman wore when he won his first professional event, in 1976. Michael Bamberger

I loved the one-club hole, Tiger’s coaching, the realization that any of us could improve Tom Brady’s golf in a two-minute timeout. (Strengthen that grip, brother!) I had a brief chat with Fred Couples about the charity match a couple of weeks ago and asked him how it would compare to the Thanksgiving Day Skins Games in which he used to play, which drew millions to their RCAs.

“This thing is going to completely blow away any of those,” Fred said. He was way ahead of me, what it would be, what it would mean. “There’s nothing [else] to watch.” I found it unexpectedly moving, starting with its raison d’être.

My play was not strictly kosher for Covid: I couldn’t resist the Medalist tees lying here and there, plain wood with a single green stripe. Until the other day, I didn’t even know Medalist had a par-3 course, despite a half-dozen or so visits here over the years. The 12 holes are flat, simple and excellent. As I played them, they ranged from about 140 yards to 190. (There were no tee markers. Who needs tee markers?) The greens have real movement in them, even wet. It’s an easy walk. It’s beautiful and natural. I saw rabbits running across greens and fairways, and poodles running in one fenced backyard. I heard Charles Barkley’s color commentary coming from large TVs on an enclosed backyard porch. The cart paths are coarse sand and crushed seashells. 

When I was done, Amanda Balionis, otherwise occupied, didn’t interview me. But a golfer can dream.

“Michael, what would consider your shot of the day?”

“Tee shot on 10. Little downwind chipped 8-iron from 144 yards to about 10 feet.”

“And I understand you almost made the birdie putt.”

“But I made the one for par!”

One of three on the day, along with seven bogeys and two doubles. After the 6th, I retrieved my left-handed putter from the trunk of my car (for the short ones), but it was getting kind of late. Anyway, I went to and made a donation by credit card, along with untold others. I typed Morris Sims’ name in a box marked Comment, In Memory, Tribute.

It was raining hard and nearly dark when I got the clubs in the car’s boot and drove out. The lights were on in the main clubhouse. I imagine there were two quarterbacks and two golfers in there, towels on their shoulders, tired and wet but feeling good. There was a lot of that going around.

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