Here's my experience being up-close with Tommy Armour III at a PGA Tour Champions event—twice! The time is Labour Day weekend 2018 and Labour Day weekend 2019 at the Shaw Charity Classic at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club in Calgary. The first time, I was volunteering as a marshal at the 17th hole. Cart Path A golf ball hit off the 17th tee goes to the right into the spruce and poplar. Another marshal up ahead turns and shouts “There is a ball over on the cart path.” On arrival I see the ball smack dab in the middle of the asphalt cart path. I secure the perimeter.
The legendary American professional golfer Tommy Armour III, also famously known as “TA3” is now on scene. TA3 takes several flat-footed steps criss-crossing the ball's location. TA3 stares upward at the mature spruce trees dead ahead of the ball. TA3 opts not to play off the asphalt. Pro-golfer and caddie become a tandem. The caddie passes TA3 a wood to measure the distance to get cart path relief. TA3 picks up the ball and makes a drop to the right of the cart path on to a patch of dry clay. TA3 immediately swings downward, launching the ball up over the tall trees and on to the 17th green. There is huge applause. An up close golf experience for the ages.
Now fast-forward to the first round of tournament play on the Friday of the 2019 Shaw Charity Classic at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club. Again I'm a volunteer marshal on the 17th hole. But I'm not in uniform. I'm spectating at the 18th green. And I'm there on a golf fan mission.
Yes, I was waiting for TA3 to finish the round at the par 5, 18th, hoping for a selfie. TA3 hits a long approach shot over the water in front of the green. Unfortunately the ball comes to rest among large rocks scattered in the gnarly fescue in the hazard. TA3 plays from the hazard. The ball rises a little bit then falls back. TA3 takes a drop out of the hazard, chips on to the green, and two-putts for a double bogey. Recall I'm hoping for a selfie with TA3. I go over to the spectators area adjacent to the scoring tent designated as Autograph Alley. I ask myself, what is the likelihood of a selfie after the bad finishing hole? TA3 turns in the opposite direction and is going up the players pathway to the clubhouse. There is nobody within 50 feet of TA3. I decide to go for it. I start walking up the slope towards the roped-off pathway and say in a very clear voice “Mr. Armour.” I hold out my phone and ask “may I take a picture?”
TA3 waves me onward. I snap two pictures. I thank TA3 for the selfie. At the volunteer's party later that afternoon I show the selfie to other members of the marshals 17 team. Everyone agrees it's a great snapshot. Someone mentions TA3 had bogeyed number 17. I hadn't known that. Someone comments I was brave to have approached TA3 in the circumstances.
I would have understood TA3 ignoring me or denying my request. TA3 did not react in either of those ways. Showing the selfie with TA3, including at the party, to neighbours, colleagues from work, and in writing this article, I want to emphasis TA3 being kind to me despite that disappointing conclusion to his work day. Best wishes to the graceful and stylish Tommy Armour III TA3.
Alberta Prime times reader C.J. Shaw golfs in the Calgary area.