No doubt the Buick Open will miss Tiger Woods this week, but
most of my contact with him during the seven years I worked
on the Buick events entailed not golf but which courtesy car
He always requested tinted windows, which were
tough to get because the dealers who were providing the cars
were concerned that the car would be harder to sell after the
tournament. I actually thought Tiger was being a bit
of a diva about it until one day at Westchester when we had
a rainout. Tiger was leaving the grounds in his event car, a
Rendezvous with clear windows. Tons of people were walking
around, and when they spotted him, he was trapped.
surrounded the car and were trying to
get him to roll down the windows and
talk to them and sign autographs. He
spotted me and put both hands up in
the air as if to say, See, dummy, that’s
why I want tinted windows. From then
on, we made sure he got them.
During the Buick Open we always
put up a board in the staff trailer to
write down the oddest questions of the week.
“Where is the best place to go to get some foul balls?” (Answer:
Try the first base side.) “My son is a huge Tiger fan. Can you
arrange for us to meet him?” (Sure. Would his hotel room be
O.K.?) And the winner: “I have a clubhouse badge. Do I have
to stay in the clubhouse or can I walk around?” (Actually,
we’d prefer it if you stayed out of the clubhouse.)
My other favorite story from Detroit was about a local man
who wanted nothing more than to play in the pro-am. He had
saved for years but was still far short of the $3,000 or so it cost
at the time. The story hit the newspapers and became a cause
celebre. People donated money, and he got his spot. He drew
Peter Jacobsen, who was the best because he always made his
amateur partners feel like a million bucks.
When the day finally
arrived, there were several hundred people around the 1st tee
to see the guy play. He was as nervous as hell. He took a huge
practice swing, looked down the fairway and made the longest
backswing in golf history. He fired from the top and completely
missed the ball, which toppled off the tee and lay there. There
was an audible gasp. The guy looked directly at Jacobsen and
said, “Man, this is a tough course.”
Jake collapsed, and the
crowd roared. The guy put the tee in his pocket and smashed
his next shot about 250 yards down the middle. Doesn’t get
any better than that.
Jim McGovern ran Buick’s golf program from 1998 to 2005 and now
consults for title sponsors of PGA Tour events.