My Opening Closing Celebration

By |  March 10, 2015 0 Comments
Full Stage

Attendees waited for someone to take the stage at the Lila Cockrell Theatre for the Closing Celebration.

After two days at the Golf Industry Show, meeting with vendors during the day and interacting with superintendents at night, I wanted nothing more than to go to my hotel room to rest. But, my role as associate editor and also being the “new guy” made attending the Closing Celebration mandatory. Luckily, the end of the festivities turned out to be a great way to finish my first GIS.

I was grateful Ed Hiscock, Golfdom’s editor-at-large and a 17-time veteran of GIS, accompanied me to the event and told me the GCSAA puts on a good show. We entered the Lila Cockrell Theatre and were set on getting the best seats possible. Ed and I grabbed a pair in the center section about four rows back, right in front of a couple rows of reserved seats that were for past GCSAA presidents. Ed shook multiple hands of the men in the white jackets as they passed.

Before the ceremony officially started Alex Ellis, the MC for the Closing Celebration, came out to warm up the crowd. She got the college students, probably the easiest group to rile up, to sing or chant their school’s fights songs, and also handed out prizes for correct trivia answers. She entered to a non-responsive audience and, through charm and wit, got the audience to laugh and have a good time.

The results of the 21st annual Turf Bowl were announced one by one and took to the stage for photo with then-GCSAA President Keith A. Ihms, GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans and a giant cardboard check. At first, the award presentation seemed drawn out but as the announcement reached the top four, I could feel the tension rise.

Penn State Champs

Penn State’s Team No. 35 accepted the Turf Bowl trophy and check from GCSAA President Keith A. Ihms and GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans.

The University of Maryland team was the runner-up, and team No. 35 from Penn State — one of the school’s three in the top 10 — was crowned 2015’s champion.

The highlight of the presentation for me came from Penn State, but not when the championship team took the stage. All I can say is Ben McGraw, a regular contributor to Golfdom, must have been feeling pretty lucky when he went on stage to receive the third place award. Before exiting the stage, he grabbed the unsuspecting MC and gave her a big kiss. It was like something out of a movie or the Academy Awards.

The audience reacted at first with an audible gasp, but after Ellis didn’t slap him across the face for the unexpected gesture, laughter as well as scattered hoots and hollers filled the crowd. When the same adviser returned for the championship trophy, Ellis waved him off even before he could get within 5 feet of her.

With the awards handed out and a 15-minute break for the crowd to cool down from the action the night’s scheduled entertainment, CBS on-course analyst David Feherty, took the stage.


David Feherty let his hair down during the GIS Closing Celebration.

Feherty started out by recalling his youth in Northern Ireland where he grew up hanging out around the “greenskeeper” shed and volunteered that, “half the time I was inhaling solvents.”

He also told stories about his past partners in the analyst booth, including dealing with Bobby Calmpett’s mental capacity. “I once told Bobby Clampett, ‘never start a sentence with, I think, because you don’t,’” said Feherty.

He also told the audience how one of his past companion’s dislike for everyone extended to one of the sports most beloved players. “Ken Venturi hated everyone, even Arnold Palmer. Which is crazy because that’s like hating the Easter Bunny,” Feherty deadpanned.

To his credit, Feherty knew his audience and was not above giving out compliments. “I’ve seen golf courses change so much in 20 years, it’s mind numbing to me what (superintendents) do what you do,” he said.

The Closing Celebration was scheduled to end at 7 p.m., but I guess Mr. Feherty did not get that memo because it was pushing 7:30 when he left the stage. I doubt anyone in the audience really cared because he had us laughing from start to finish.

Considering I was originally not excited for the ceremony, I’m glad I went. It’s easy to admit I was entertained by what the GCSAA brought to the Closing Celebration and I look forward to attending again next year in San Diego.

Photos: Golfdom Staff

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