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Golf Community Supports Mark

Sad News for Mark this week but friends help him through

Posted Jul 06, 2011 by Mark's Kaddy Korner

Golf was a pleasant distraction this week. Dad was having issues with his blood pressure, dizzy spells, weakening in the legs and the doctors were concerned. Time spent on the course with my extended family was a much needed respite. Being on the road, out of the country and pops struggling was difficult but the support was there and he would have it no other way.

He never played the game but he loved golf almost as much baseball. He spent many a weekend walking 18, sometimes 36, holes a day following his boys and making friends throughout the tour. When the word got out dad was having health issues pros, caddies and tour officials stopped with an encouraging word, a pleasant thought and a prayer. I couldn’t have survived the week without them.

Bob couldn’t have better. The golf wasn’t the greatest but that didn’t matter, he made it clear whatever needed to be done for dad, feel free. His Christian background soothed my emotions; he was the rock and support I needed. Dad went into surgery early Thursday morning and our pro-am group teed it up around 1:30.

Corey Pavin and his caddy Eric “Big E” Schwartz were playing in front of us. As Corey was getting ready to peg it on the 18th tee, our first hole, my phone rang so I scurried to the cart. Corey had a disturbed look, Bob explained the situation. During the rest of the round Corey asked for surgery updates, said a quiet prayer and Eric, a die-hard Giants fan, provided Cub-Giant scores. Every time I snuck into the trees for a phone call our pro-am partners wanted to know how dad was doing. Golf gathers a great group of people, they’re support was deeply appreciated.

I’ve had one other traumatic moment on tour. About twenty years ago my daughter Cassie was attacked by a dog and required extensive surgery. I was in Houston, she was in Madison, WI and Al “Bald Al” Mellan, Steve Pate’s caddy was my roommate. He was my roomy again this week. He talked about being bad luck; I let him know it was nice to have a good friend by my side. Golf, the people who surround and embrace this game, family and friends got me through the week.

Dad befriended caddies, volunteers, hotel staff, players and their families, anyone who might be standing next to him. He never met a stranger. You would always see him walking outside the ropes, chatting with anyone. Early in the morning he’d be in the hotel lobby sipping coffee talking with the staff. Usually he was discussing his favorite subject, family, children, grandkids or the Cubs. His smile, deep blue eyes and energy were infectious. Everyone had a brief story or memory of “Pops” to share with me.

I had to wear shades Saturday, my eyes puffy and swollen from all the memories but golf kept me going. The word came early before I left for the course, dad had passed away peacefully with family and friends gathered around and I was on the phone with brother Dan. Dad wasn’t much for technology but I told him I loved him over Dan’s cell phone. I sure hope he heard me.

He was in good hands and I had work to finish. Dad would have it no other way; he was all about dedication to your job, family and community. I stuck around, caddied the weekend with everyone’s support. In between shots memories overwhelmed me at times. The ducks on the lake reminded me of cold, crisp mornings with Dad in the duck blind. The fried potato, eggs over easy, bacon, sausage and toast breakfast was Dad’s favorite. I felt him outside the ropes and kept looking for the ragged Callaway golf shirt, faded khaki shorts, wobbly legs and strong engaging smile sauntering up the fairway.

Tom Pernice and Tim Simpson gave me man hugs on the practice tee. Tom Wargo and too many caddies to name remembered the Indianapolis fish frys in the Motel 6 courtyard. Murph and Gail, Doug and Pam plus my extended caddy family sent their love and support. The fish fry was the focal point. It started out one year with about twenty people. It grew to 176 players, caddies, friends, family, and hotel staff. Dad was right in the middle serving plates, pouring beer and laughing with everyone who showed up.

He wasn’t worldly, he was neighborly. In the mid 90’s we were paired with Jack in the last group at the Outback Classic. Jack won and Barbara Nicklaus said it was the largest crowd she’d ever seen. Dad was in his heyday then and never missed a shot. After the round Barbara grabbed me, “Your dad’s a hoot. I had so much fun with him and your family today.” She’d ask about him from time to time so would hotel clerks, caddies, tournament staff and other folks he befriended on the tour.

A lot of people will miss him, especially me, but he’ll still be in the gallery. He has a better view these days.

- Mark Huber

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