I volunteered for Heritage for more than 10 years. Once I was called to take Payne Stewart's mother to the drug store for some medicine she needed. After she got the medicine, she wanted to see her son come in on the ninth hole.
After putting, Payne was happy to see his mother sitting in a special chair brought in close to the hole, and he thanked me for helping her. I invited Mrs. Stewart to lunch in Sea Pines, and we enjoyed a leisurely meal together.
After lunch, Payne's mother wanted to go to their condo in Harbour Town, so I took her there.
She thanked me for driving her around and taking her to see Payne play golf.
The next morning when I arrived at the tournament, I found Payne had left a gift for me -- an autographed hat. I framed it with a photo of myself with Payne. He was quite a guy.
Hilton Head Island
Boy's life changed after seeing Ernie Els
I was reading the sports page of The Island Packet this morning and saw that Ernie Els is playing in the heritage for the 12th time -- hopefully not his last. It brought back fond memories of my first Heritage with my grandson, Caleb Lewis. He was 7 years old at the time, and we were strolling around the Heritage on Thursday trying to find Ernie, Caleb's favorite golfer. We heard the announcer call Ernie's name to tee off on hole 1, but Caleb couldn't see him because of the crowd. So we walked up the first fairway to get a glimpse of Ernie on his approach shot to the green. Unfortunately, he was on the other side of the fairway.
We couldn't see Ernie when he putted so we walked over to the second tee. We still couldn't see him, so I told Caleb to run ahead to a big tree on the right side of the fairway next to the ropes. Ernie faded his drive and when I got to Caleb, Ernie was only 10 feet away. As we waited for Ernie to hit, Caleb snuggled up to me, turned and looked at me and said, "Big Daddy, this is the greatest day of my life!"
As a granddad, it was mine, too.
Hilton Head Island
An unforgettable practical joke
Remember Doug Sanders, who played in early Heritage tournaments? Handsome Doug dressed like a rainbow with his pink, purple and orange outfits and shoes that reminded us of the chartreuse shag carpets in our villas in those days. Some of my buddies met Doug in a bar one night and the next day they saw him on the golf course. They pointed out my wife, Claire, and told Doug that Claire McKenzie thought he was the cat's meow. They conspired to play a trick on her. Doug walked up to Claire and gave her a hug and a big smack on the lips and said, "Claire, you look great and I love your Easter parade outfit." Blushing and flabbergasted, Claire could think of nothing to say but, "I like your outfit, too." My buddies standing on the side had a good laugh. When Doug walked away, Claire looked at me and said, "Did that really just happen?"
John E. McKenzie Jr.
Hilton Head Island
Marshal has run in with Fuzzy's wife
Back in 2001, when I began my soon-to-be 11th year as a marshal on the 17th hole, on pro-am day I was picked to be a walking marshal with none other than the great Fuzzy Zoeller.
Trying to keep the crowd back, I missed a young gal who ran out onto the fairway to get Fuzzy's autograph. I thought, "This isn't going to happen again on my duty." Soon, another gal started to go under the ropes and walk over to Fuzzy. I encountered her and politely asked her to stay behind the ropes. She smiled at me and said, "It's OK, I'm his wife." Sort of embarrassed, I replied, "Oh, it's OK then."
Later as I was on the tee, Fuzzy hit a poor shot. He kiddingly walked over to me and handed me one of his golf balls, with his name on it. As he handed it to me he said, "Here, you can probably hit it better than me." I have since given this ball to my son, Joe Banfield Jr., who is an avid golfer up in Michigan.
Sun City Hilton Head