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A Spectator at the Crossroads of History
Written By: Matthew Adams on Jul 01 2009
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The 2009 Memorial tournament will be remembered for Tiger Woods’ heroics on the final day of the competition.  Tiger Woods did, of course, what Tiger Woods does, erasing a four shot deficit to start the day and winning the event in dramatic fashion by making birdies on the finishing holes, including a virtual tap-in for birdie at the difficult 18th Hole, to secure the victory (by one stroke over Jim Furyk).  I was there as part of the PGA Tour Network’s live coverage crew (I was assigned to do the on course play-by-play for Tiger Woods for both Thursday’s and Saturday’s rounds), but the events of the week that left the greatest impression on me took place the Wednesday before the first round.
 
On that day, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and six other Tour stars got together for the first ever Memorial Skins game, for charity.  Mr. Nicklaus and Tiger were paired together.  With no disrespect intended to the other six golfers involved, it might as well have been just Mr. Nicklaus and Tiger on the course, for the focus of everyone was singular.

Somehow it seemed that fate itself was conspiring against the occasion.  The weather in Ohio, was in a word, awful.  Breezy, with temperatures barely cracking fifty degrees the ultimate indignity was the teaming down rain that accompanied the nine-hole exhibition.
 
But one thing was for certain.  In a world where history usually chooses to define itself at a moment that suits its means, there in Dublin, Ohio – an Irish inspired city name, on Muirfield Village – a Scottish inspired name, in the most Celtic of weather, history would meet at a crossroads and for the 5,000 or so fellow drowned rats like me, we were treated to watching two of the greatest golfers of all time play side by side.
 
My credentials allowed me inside the ropes and I walked along, usually only a few feet from the competitors.  I could hear their banter was they went along and honestly, it was not remarkable.  There were no philosophical discussions about their place(s) in golf’s history books or the significance of the historical bridges their walking side-by-side represents.  Instead, it was usually discussions about how far it was, usually 270 or 290 yards, to clear this bunker or hazard, with Mr. Nicklaus good-naturally chiming in “you weren’t telling that to me, were you?”.  At one point, Tiger hit his approach shot on the par 5, 11th Hole, wayward to the right and as he walked over, he asked me if I saw where it went.  I pointed to my right, in a batch of large trees.  As he passed, Woods smiled and said to no one in particular, “it’s supposed to bounce out” (he nearly birdied the hole anyway).
 
For the record, and while it was not official, Jack Nicklaus appeared to be hitting his driver about 270 yards that day and was for the most part, 30 yards behind his fellow competitors, who, the oldest of which, Kenny Perry at 48, Mr. Nicklaus was conceding 21 years.  Ever the competitor, Mr. Nicklaus won two skins that day.  The overall winner, you guessed it, was Tiger Woods, after making an impossible chip-in at the 18th Hole, in a playoff.
 
The debate will continue to rage as to who is the greatest golfer of all time (I am of the belief that it is Jack Nicklaus, until such time as, and if, his place atop the record books is supplanted), but on this special day, it was not about who is better, it was about one of the rarest sightings in all of sport, it was about watching 32 combined professional Major wins walk down the fairways together in a rain shrouded forum that only the game of golf can provide.

 




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About Matthew Adams

Author Matthew E. Adams is one of those people that are hard to pin down. Ask him what he does for a living and “Matt”, as he prefers to be called (he publishes under his full name), will tell you that the answer depends on when you ask him. What cannot be denied is that for a man that wears many hats, any one of his multiple jobs would be one that most people would love to have.

Adams is a New York Times best selling author, with his most distinctive literary successes coming from his co-authoring multiple books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Adams is also an expert in golf equipment technology by virtue of spending many years on the manufacturing side of the game, having built and/or designed golf clubs for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Nicklaus, MacGregor, Ram and Wilson. He is also a professional sports broadcaster, speaker, golf historian and golf travel writer. What does he do? Maybe the question should be, what doesn’t he do?

In 2002, Matthew co-authored Chicken Soup for the Soul of America, Stories to Heal the Heart of Our Nation, with Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. The book quickly rose to the top spot in book rankings around the world and it was printed in multiple language translations. Proceeds from the book benefited the New York Area Relief Fund. Matt described the experience of writing and compiling this book as one of the most emotional and rewarding experiences of his life. “In the face of such horror, we saw such nobility. As the worst of human nature was revealed we also saw the triumph of kindness, caring and love,” said Adams. “Even at Ground Zero, immediately following the attacks, the people of New York were so heroic and resolute. The events of September 11, 2001 did not make all of these people heroes; it just exposed their heroism for the entire world to see.”

Matt calls the golf industry his “primary profession” and he has mastered his craft in the sport for over twenty years in golf club operations, golf equipment manufacturing and golf media. As such, he has become a well respected and recognized expert in many facets of the business. “Most people choose to work in the golf industry as a life style. It takes a long time to forge a path to financial stability in any profession and golf is no different and probably even harder because so many people would literarily do it for nothing if they could. I have always believed in following your passion first, and then the money will follow. I am extremely fortunate to have made a career in the game I love. Making it in any vocation takes hard work. You may not be the most talented, most experienced, well connected, or smartest, but nobody can stop you from being the hardest worker. If you can’t outshine them, out work them, because in the end hard work beats out glamour every time.”

For as long as he has been working in the golf industry, Matt has even deeper roots in sports media. Matt began working in sports radio while still in high school. He would go to the radio station at 5:00 AM, edit and file his reports, then race off to school. After college, Matt began is career working in the production department at ESPN where his assignments were the NHL, NFL, and SportsCenter. Matt left ESPN to pursue his primary passion of working in the game of golf. However, he maintained his dual passions of media and golf, establishing himself as a person who not only understood the complexity of modern golf equipment technology, but he could speak to it in simple, easy to understand terms to millions of viewers all over the world. “You have to make yourself distinctive. You must establish yourself as a unique authority, as an expert in something. That gives you credibility and the ability to use your forum as a basis of expansion to other areas where you have an interest or passion.”

Matt has followed his own recipe in the world of golf media. Matt can be seen regularly on the Golf Channel where he is a Golf Central reporter and columnist and has conducted player interviews as part of the Network’s Champion’s Tour broadcasts. Matt is also a member of the broadcast team on the PGA Tour Network where he does on-course play-by-play and he hosts his own show on the Network and Matt writes golf travel reviews that are syndicated around the world. All of this is in addition to his “everyday” job of managing golf courses. “Yea, it’s busy,” he explained, “but what I’ve tried to do is fill my life with things that interest me. Basically, my various jobs are really my hobbies, so I never feel like I work a day in my life.”

In 2003, Matt co-authored Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, a book that quickly became the best selling NASCAR book of all-time. In 2005, he combined efforts on The NASCAR Xtreme Race Journal for Kids and The Fast and Lean Racing Cookbook. In 2006, Matt authored Fairways of Life – Wisdom and Inspiration from the Greatest Game. In a testament to Matt’s widespread respect, the book features a Foreword written by none other than the legendary Arnold Palmer. “Fairways uses golf as a metaphor for life. There is so much that we can learn from the game that carries over to every aspect of our lives. Lessons about humility, perseverance, overcoming adversity and facing our fears are just a few examples,” explained Matt.

In 2007, Adams returned to his Chicken Soup for the Soul roots with the release of Chicken Soup for Women Golfer’s Soul, a book that celebrates the trail blazing women of the game.

In 2008, he released In the Spirit of the Game – Golf’s Greatest Stories.

Adams loves to bring his message of liberty, perspective, humor and empowerment to audiences all over the world as a highly sought after professional speaker.

Author, golf expert, sports broadcaster and speaker, so which one does Matt like the best? “Whichever one I am doing at the moment,” he reasoned. “Life is about doing what you like to do and I like to do a lot of different things.”

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