“Walking to dinner with Phil one evening in Scotland a group of gentlemen came toward us and one of them shouted ‘Hey Phil remember me? I’m…’ — let’s just call him Charlie Golfer. ‘We shook hands the last time the Open Championship was here.’
I had heard about him from a faculty member at the University of St. Andrews and went to visit him in an old stone farmhouse on the outskirts of town. It was an extraordinary afternoon.
We walked toward the green. The big clubhouse was dark and foreboding the town deserted. My heart skipped a beat when I finally saw my ball: perched tenuously on the precipice of the Valley of Sin 20 feet below the hole.
Later that week we learned the CFO was ‘flying high after the call’ and that KPMG had won an important piece of his business. Our team was thrilled and credited Phil with helping to close the deal.”
I thought I had created a story by making my putt but he didn’t see it that way. The best way to describe Phil is . And I mean that in the most respectful way. The shots he hits or the decisions he’s made on the course that aren’t so great he forgets.
The dude who was watching us turned out to be another wayward Yank. He saw us on the green snagged a putter from his hotel lobby and came out to join us. We parted ways and then Mike Sean and I wound up having up-and-down contests out of the Road Hole bunker among other hijinks.
I knocked on the door and David Joy answered. He remembered our visit and he had the book on his shelf with hundreds of others. He’s in his late 60s and recovering from a stroke and learning to paint again and doing it spectacularly well.
“I’ve had a couple of interactions with Phil but the one time I really talked to him was at Oakmont in 2016 right after the St. Jude where he hit this shot on No. 17. He was right up against a tree and he hit a big slingin’ hook around the tree to about six feet. I walked up to him at Oakmont and was like ‘Dude that was the greatest shot I think I’ve ever seen in my .’And he was like ‘You liked that? You liked that?’ I was like ‘Yeah!”
Then I noticed an artist’s studio behind it filled with spectacular modernistic seascapes. There was a note from the artist inside: if you wanted to see him knock on the door in the house behind it. It was starting to feel familiar.
It was ’round midnight when dinner adjourned. There was never any doubt of the next stop: the 18th tee of the Old Course. We parked on The Links road and walked briskly across the ancient sod.
Across my whole time at the Open this was all the golf I played. It’s a lot of work to lug your clubs to Scotland to play only one hole. It was worth it.
On Wednesday of Open week I went for a run first into town then up a long long hill out of town. I don’t map or plan my runs. I just run until I don’t feel like it anymore or until something captures my interest and I kept going up this country-lane hill and for some reason was not getting tired. When I saw a spectacular-looking restaurant in the middle of farm fields I stopped to take a look.