A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bill Greenwald (third from left) poses for a picture with golfing legend Jack Nicklaus; friend, Olen Suire; and coach Lou Holtz. | Courtesy photo

Bill Greenwald (third from left) poses for a picture with golfing legend Jack Nicklaus; friend, Olen Suire; and coach Lou Holtz. | Courtesy photo

Bill Greenwald and a couple of his buddies got the opportunity of a lifetime when they played a few rounds of golf with a former college football coach and current analyst, along with meeting a golfing legend at Augusta National Golf Club last week.

The local financial advisor with Edward Jones said former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, who also coached at South Carolina and Arkansas among others, called him a few weeks before the trip to see if they could make it to Augusta to play some golf.

“We didn’t think this was going to be happening for years,” Greenwald said. “We drive up there and they check your ID at the gate.”

That welcome into the home of the Masters Golf Tournament — a major golf championship which is held every April — really drove home how prestigious the honor was to be playing golf at the Georgia course, Greenwald said.

During his stay at Augusta National, Greenwald stayed in a cabin with Holtz and his two other buddies.

“You just can’t believe that you’re there,” he said. “It’s like an out-of-body experience.”

Upon arrival at the cabin, Greenwald said Holtz came out and met and talked with the group he was going to play golf with. Greenwald was with Olen Suire of Cartersville, Ga., and Kenny French of Victoria, Texas. for the trip.

After introductions were made, the group went to lunch. “If you’re not locked in step with coach Holtz, then he’ll leave you,” Greenwald quipped. “He takes off headed toward the grill and we’re trying to run to catch up with him.”

While at lunch, Greenwald said Holtz went and talked to former Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles at the table next to the group.

Broyles fired Holtz while he was coaching for the Razorbacks.

The story from the college football hall of famer about the situation was something he’ll never forget, Greenwald said.

“Lou said, ‘he really didn’t have a reason to fire me,'” Greenwald said. “He said (Broyles) called him into his office, and says, ‘coach, you need to resign.’ Lou says, ‘what for,’ and was furious.

“(Holtz) went home and said he made a list of 108 things that he wanted to do. He got up the next morning and gave it to his wife (Beth Barcus), who said he forgot one thing on the list — finding a job.

“He said he always had a lot of respect for Frank Broyles,” Greenwald said. “But, how do we get the chance to sit right next to him?”

Right after lunch, Greenwald and the rest of the foursome went to go play 18 holes; however, play was backed up and the only course available was the par 3 course.

“I was hyperventilating and couldn’t catch my breath,” Greenwald said when he approached the first tee box. “I double-bogeyed the first hole and my buddy shanked it off the tee. You can’t concentrate and your brain can’t process that quickly what’s going on.”

Then to make things fun, Greenwald said Holtz told the group about a game he devised, where the rules state that you put everything out on each hole, and when you make a double bogey, pick the ball up, except for hole No. 9.

They went on to play 18 holes later that day, and that night at dinner, Greenwald got the opportunity to meet six-time Masters champion and golfing legend, Jack Nicklaus.

“We were having a great dinner, and there’s 10 members there at one time,” Greenwald said. “I look behind Lou at somebody sitting two tables away. I’m thinking it looks like Jack.

“I ask coach is there any possible way that you could introduce us to Jack?”

Greenwald and his buddies got the introduction and were then given a tour of the club house, the locker room, the championship dinner room and were even shown the club’s Crows Nest, where the amateurs stay.

“We got a bonus to play at Augusta, which was impossible to do, and the added bonus to spend time with coach Holtz,” he said. “The triple bonus was that we got to hang out with Jack Nicklaus. Even my caddie said that Jack doesn’t come here very often, and we got lucky.

“It was a very surreal experience,” he said.