Part of being a patient at St. Jude is that you get to do some really fun things. Today, Ingram got to meet a PGA Tour player and help him play the 11th hole at Southwind. The FedEx St. Jude Classic is taking place here in Memphis over the next four days to benefit the work at St. Jude. The group of golfers is fair this year including two young stars, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson (I don't really have a crush on Johnson like Ashley portrayed in yesterday's blog - although I do have a small picture of him taped on the dashboard of my car). We want the best field we can get so more people attend and St. Jude can raise more money. When we saw the sheet of players coming through, I picked Scott Verplank for Ingram to meet since I have watched him often, he has won 8 times on Tour, he seems to have a positive demeanor, and most importantly he wears a sweatband on his arm like Ingram (it's actually not a sweatband but it looks like one on TV).
I'm not sure Scott knew what to expect when Ingram the Conqueror showed up on the tee-box. But he was there to conquer something for sure, perhaps the audience. Ingram brought along his trusty red plastic golf club and was ready to play. He told Scott immediately that he needed a golfball. Scott obliged. Ingram also needed a needle (otherwise known as a tee). Scott again obliged. So now Ingram was ready to fire away, and he crushed it! Right at the cameraman. Everyone cheered for Ingram and he got excited. Then he got to hit again; and wanted to again. It was hard for Ingram to understand why he had to quit teeing off so the other players could participate.
Next was the journey to the green. Naturally, the first thing you do when you play golf is show your playing partner your underwear when you walk off the first tee. And sure enough, Ingram starting showing Scott his "big boy underwear" as they walked off. I couldn't really figure out what was going on until I heard everyone laughing and saw a look of bewilderment on Ashley's face (the same face she has when Ingram decides to use the restroom standing on the back of the boat when friends are on the boat with us). That's when I decided I needed to go under the spectator ropes and help (we weren't really supposed to). But Scott had it under control and was so patient herding Ingram to the green.
Once on the green, Ingram got to help Scott putt and they actually made it in two putts (that's a personal best by about 12 strokes for Ingram on a green). Everyone cheered again for him and then he basked in the glory on the edge of the green talking to Scott. I talked to him also and he was genuinely interested in Ingram's battle. He was also interested in Ingram's sweatband, so we obviously gave him one. When we did, Scott ripped the plastic off and I think he put it on. Before we left the green, Scott had given Ingram several golf balls and autographed his hat. It such a fun deal for both of us.
As we left the course, Ingram wanted to go back and play golf with those guys. I'm not sure Scott would want to play 18 with Ingram, but Ingram would have been game! Needless to say, Scott Verplank has now supplanted Mickelson and Johnson as our (or more accurately, my) favorite golfer. I guess I'll need a new picture for my dashboard. We will be rooting for him this weekend and for years to come. And we'll probably be looking to see if he's still sporting Ingram's black and neon green wristband this weekend. It will be hard to lose wearing the Conqueror's gear. It was such a little thing, but the genuine concern Scott showed was very encouraging to Ashley and me, and his patience helped Ingram to have a great day. I'm sure he didn't wake up today thinking he would be chasing a three-year old around a golf course. And I suspect people don't always realize when God is using them to accomplish His purposes.
|Hi, I'm Ingram. I'm here to conquer something!|
|Mr. Verplank, If you want to win this tournament, you have to put some leg in it... like this!|
|Our new favorite golfer ... Scott Verplank!|
|What a fun day!|