I was hanging around a golf shop recently ogling the $529 putters and overheard two guys discussing an interesting topic.

Eavesdropping is easier than handing over a plastic card for $529 plus tax, so I redirected my attention. (I’ve yet to find a putter that can make one just outside gimme range, so I’m waiting for the $959 model. At that level, the ball should roll in every time, and from every distance). 

The question of the day was: If you could play any course and with any three people – living or dead — in your foursome, what would your answers be?

Those guys didn’t ask me, but I thought the question was an interesting one. I didn’t barge into their discussion; I simply saved my expertise on the topic for the wider world.

The first part is easy. Pebble Beach. I’ve driven past the course and imagined losing golf balls in the Pacific, but I haven’t had the chance – or the money – to play.

The foursome is a more interesting topic. With all due respect to the guys I play with regularly, none of them made the cut. It’s not that they’re not fun, but I can play with them anytime (at least anytime they respond to my emails and texts, which is an entirely different question).

First, Jack Nicklaus. I consider Nicklaus the best golfer of all time (I’ll accept arguments on another day), have interviewed him a couple of times, appreciate his charity efforts and rate him a nice guy. Plus, I probably could learn something from him about putting. He makes them. I don’t.

Second, George Rogers. Rogers won the Heisman Trophy as a running back at the University of South Carolina and, many moons past his gridiron days, is a pleasure to be around. I’ve played in his foursome in a couple of charity/celebrity events (he was the celebrity, not me), and he can smash the ball with some authority. More importantly in this context, he’s just a great guy to have in your group.

Third would be Leslie Timms, my first boss in the newspaper business and an avid golfer. I began the long and frustrating journey that is the game of golf years after I left his employ, and he passed away years ago, so I never had the pleasure of walking onto the first tee with him. He is greatly missed, by me and countless others who crossed his path over the years, in golf and otherwise.

There you have it. An ideal foursome, I think. 

Each of these gentlemen would report to the course with much better games than mine, and that’s fine. I’m used to being the E player in a four-player scramble, so my primary goal during the round would be watching my partners sail the ball into the distance. And watching Nicklaus slam in some 30-footers. And just having an absolutely grand time.

And Jack, you’re buyin’.


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Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.