Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Golf Channel at The Pond: a recap

I’m happy to oblige the several people who weren’t there and were eager to hear a jiffy recap about what happened Friday when Golf Channel came to The Pond to film us telling stories about native son Arnold Palmer.

Friends wanted to know if it was fun. Did it go well? Did anyone say anything memorable?

Yes, it was lots of fun, it seemed to go well and I said something memorable about two minutes after I walked through the door.

First of all, I’d underestimated how big a deal this was going to be. I thought this would be a little filler segment they’d throw together in time for Palmer’s 84th birthday on Sept. 10.

Wrong. This will be a ballyhooed special set to air in March. It is expected to be a definitive Palmer profile.

To get it right, the network sent a real A-Team to town.

And by real “A-Team” I’m talking about three accomplished broadcast professionals, not Mr. T., Howling Mad Murdoch or any other paramilitary types resourceful enough to assemble things like cabbage cannons from rusty farm implements. 

And, sorry, boys, but that would have been much more cool and would have completely changed the character of today’s post.

It turns out I had the logistics all wrong, too. I thought my most likely contribution would be Palmer stories I told during on-camera interviews Saturday at the Palmer Marriott.

That was perfect. I’d planned to get in early Friday, get a good night’s sleep, write down some notes and be fresh and ready for my interview.

Well, that was canceled.

Instead, it was all set for Friday at The Pond.

I didn’t learn this until Friday when I stumbled into The Pond.

This was unfortunate because Thursday I had one of my best buddies from college visit for golf and sudsy revelry. We really whooped it up that night and Friday dawned with the predictable hangover.

No problem. I wobbled through the day content in the knowledge I had no obligations to appear presentable or thoughtful.

So I was surprised when I walked into the bar and stranger asked, “You Chris?”

I told him I was “a” Chris. This seemed good enough for him because he immediately began unbuttoning my shirt.

He was Alan the sound man. In short order I was introduced to Mason the producer and a camera man whose name I lost in the whirlwind.

The three were the rare tricky mix of cheerful and competent. I’ve known many cheerful incompetents and an equal number of competent sourpusses, but few who combine elements of both positives.

Mason told me I was going to emcee a sort of bar round-table where we swapped Palmer stories.

It took Alan less than a minute to cheerfully and competently put a live mic on me, just slightly less time that it took me to protest that I hadn’t shaved, wasn’t wearing my lucky shirt and would need a quick nap before I was ready.

Too late. The train was leaving the station.

I was thrilled to see a stool open right next to Dick. He’s Dave’s Dad and the great, beloved man who built the family bar in 1954. He’s 87. I say that not so I can say, gee, he’s still sharp as a tack, spry, etc. I say it so you’ll challenge the conventional wisdom next time you hear anyone say that only the good die young.

Mason wanted me to interview Dick first. It was all happening so fast.

“Are you nervous?” Dick asked.

I am, I said.

“Do you want a shot of whiskey?”

No, I said. I think that would be unprofessional. Why? Are you having one?

“Yes, I am.”

I told him I’d have a double.

It was nerve-racking. And then it got worse when I confided to Dick what I now recall as my most memorable line.

“You know,” I said, “my whole goal here today is to be witty and insightful enough that the Golf Channel crew will out of gratitude splurge for me to take my wife to a fancy dinner at the country club.”

The three cheerful competents all heckled from across the bar that wasn’t in their budget.

The live mic had broadcast my whispers into the crews’ ear pieces clear across the bar.

What’s great is there seemed to be many more memorable lines. The crew and Palmer assistant Cori Britt all seemed pleased that it had gone well.

I was pleased that no one razzed me too harshly about my role. In fact, most were very encouraging, again reminding me that The Pond is a gold mine of good-hearted people.

The recognition made me feel so good it almost healed my hangover.

As for other memorable lines, we’ll just have to wait see what makes the final cut.

Either way, who really cares? We had a great night, met some nice people and can now all look forward to the show’s March premier.

Memorable lines?

Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn.

Now, that’s a memorable line. I wish I’d have thought about using it Friday. 

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