by Larry Kimmel
My home course for the last several years is a hidden gem on the west side of the Cascade Mountain range in Oregon, Tokatee Golf Club.
Tokatee is translated from the Chinook Indian language and means, “Place of restful beauty.” For the past 25 years, it has been managed by Dan and Wendy King. Their three grown children – Ashley, Casey and Sydney – all grew up at Tokatee playing, working, and developing a passion for golf.
However, this piece is not about Tokatee, it is about Dan and his first visit to Augusta National. I had the good fortune to go to the Masters as a patron in 2005 and can still remember nearly every moment.
Knowing that one of the privileges of being a PGA professional is to attend the Masters, over the years I have often asked Dan why he had never been. Family, work, timing and countless other reasons were always included in his response.
“You have to go, Dan.” I would tell him each time.
My wife Katie and I headed over the pass from Bend to our cabin just four miles up the McKenzie River from Tokatee for Masters Weekend. Inspired by the first two days of play, I drove to the course on Friday afternoon to hit a bucket of balls.
Dan was in the shop, and the first thing he said to me was, “I went.”
“Went where?” I asked.
“To the Masters” he replied.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “We’re 3,000 miles from Augusta, how in the hell could you have gone and come back 24 hours later?”
Then I got the Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story.”
One of Dan’s old teammates from his days on the Washington State University golf team now lives in South Carolina and invited him to hunt turkeys near his home the weekend before the Masters. No luck with the hunting, so Monday morning, Dan borrowed his buddy’s rig and drove down to August for the practice round.
He told me he had one goal. “I am going to walk all 18. It is sacred, hallowed ground.”
The TV coverage is always fabulous, but it is impossible to capture the topography, the conditions, or the absolute incredible beauty of the course.
At the end of his 18-hole walk, Dan headed to the concessions for a cheese and pimento sandwich and a cold beer. He reached into his back pocket to pay and his wallet was gone. Credit cards, identification, and a wad of cash.
Dan could barely describe how he felt. How can I get on my flight home without ID? I’ve got to call Wendy and get the credit cards cancelled.
“All my joy from being on the course evaporated,” he said.
Dan decided to retrace his steps over the entire course, knowing it was probably futile. He spoke with all the security personnel on every hole, searched frantically and eventually went to Lost and Found. No joy. He left his contact information with the staff.
He did find some comfort in the words of one of the security officers on the 18th hole. “Sir, if you were going to lose your wallet anywhere in the world and hope for its return, this would be the place to do it. I’ll say a prayer for you.”
The 90-minute drive back to his friend’s house seemed like forever. A couple of beers did not help him sleep.
At four a.m. on Tuesday morning, his cell phone rang. He answered, and the voice said, “Mr. King, this is the Lost and Found department at Augusta National Golf Club, we have your wallet with your ID, credit cards and some cash. You can pick it up any time today.” All the patrons, volunteers and staff have more class than to actually count what I had in my wallet, but every dime was there.
What a Masters for Dan King, and nothing to do with golf. It was the honor of one patron, player, staff member or volunteer. Dan firmly believes any one of the thousands of folks there would have done the same thing.
What a tribute to the wonderful people who love our sport like Dan and I do.