By Clair Goodwin
The Joplin Globe
If you’re traveling by air for a golf vacation, how do you handle your clubs?
A national golf magazine had an article this month suggesting that you might want to send them ahead via UPS, FedEx or some other national or international freight moving company.
I learned early on that lugging luggage and a large hard-cover golf carrier through a terminal and then having to wait to get them through security is both time-consuming and tiring. I don’t mean this as a knock on the airlines. I prefer a thorough check of everyone’s luggage to make certain nothing unpleasant happens once we’re off the ground.
My buddy, Bob Cooper, and I decided to ship the clubs via UPS to the hotel in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and then send them home the same way for our return flight.
It worked beautifully.
We sent the clubs ahead nearly a week before our planned departure from Kansas City International. Others in our group, including my brother-in-law Steve Downs and his son, Stephen, chose to carry their clubs on the plane.
I have to say that I was feeling a little distress at the thought the clubs might have been sent elsewhere or bent or broken in handling. But those fears were alleviated at the hotel. My golf luggage was waiting in a back room at the hotel when I checked in.
But that trip gave me an even better reason for choosing to ship my clubs rather than carry them on the aircraft.
I can never forget the day that we were scheduled to leave. We were playing our final round that morning at a nifty course called Calabash. We made a stop at the clubhouse after nine holes. I was walking through the pro shop and noticed a group gathered around a television set. I casually asked what was going on. A gray-faced man said that an airplane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York City.
I was shocked, but decided that a pilot had gotten lost flitting around the buildings and his small plane had accidently hit it.
A few minutes later, as I was walking out of the shop toward the golf carts, a larger crowd had gathered. A couple of women were crying. I was told that a second plane had slammed into the building and both of the aircraft were airliners filled with passengers.
At that moment I knew the U.S. was at war with an enemy that showed no remorse or mercy in the deliberate killing of innocent men, women and children.
Our group decided to continue playing. But it was quickly evident that no one really had their hearts in the game. After 12 holes, we quit, returned to our hotel and started making calls home and watching the horror being played over and over on television.
Later that afternoon as we walked along the lonely beach we saw a single F-15 flying down the coast.
Our trip home was delayed for two days. The hotel management graciously let us keep our rooms for another day at no charge and even got us on another golf course. But nothing could erase that sight of those planes flying into the twin towers and the terrible loss of life.
We tried to get out the next day, but all aircraft was grounded. One member of our group rented a car and started driving back to K.C. We flew out a day later. Each member of our group had to unpack their golf bags, which were thoroughly searched. What was ironic was that we arrived within an hour of the guy who set out to drive the day before.
My most vivid memory of that trip home came at the Atlanta airport. It was virtually empty. Here was one of the busiest airports in the country and only a few dozen people were trying to make flight connections.
Not only could you hear the echo of your footsteps, but every 30 feet or so stood a black-uniformed, armed soldier. I don’t know what unit they were with, but some people at the airport speculated the soldiers were part of the elite Delta Force.
I was thankful that my luggage made the trip back on our uneventful flight to Kansas City and that I didn’t have to wrestle my golf clubs through the check-in lines. But, in truth, golf wasn’t on the mind of anyone in our group that terrible, dark day.
Setting the record straight
Several of my friends had bad-mouthed Neosho Municipal Golfer Course last spring and summer. The course had deteriorated, they said.
They may have been correct last spring, but not now. Neosho’s layout, which features several holes designed by architect Perry Maxwell, is coming back. The fairways are good and the greens quick and true.
Maxwell, by the way, is the genius who designed Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., and Prairie Dunes in Hutchison, Kan.