Golfing with sports legends in St. Kitts where NFL greats like Bruce Smith come to "give back" to kids in need
Spending the past couple of days playing golf at the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club, hanging at the pool of the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & Royal Beach Casino, and dancing on the beach to one of best bands in the Caribbean, was enormously enhanced by a group of mostly retired star athletes who had come here for the 5th Annual Legends Golf Classic weekend.
Hosted by Bruce Smith, a former Buffalo Bill defensive lineman who holds the record for the most number of quarterback sacks and Dave “Smoke” Steward, a starting pitcher with the Oakland Athletics, this annual event included a best ball tournament, a Texas Hold ‘em Tournament of Stars, Beach Bash and Awards Dinner.
Most of the sports legends, press and golfing gamblers who had paid to play, had flown down on a charter flight which was surprisingly comfortable. You could check two bags free, liquor and meals were free and you even had hot towels … a good way to go.
I consider myself fairly tall at 5′8″ but standing in the shadow of guys like Gerry Cooney, a 6′7″ retired heavyweight boxer best known for his celebrated fight with Larry Holmes, Lawrence “LT” Taylor of NY Giants fame, Harry Carson, a former Giants linebacker and other football, baseball, basketball and track stars, could be considered intimidating. Kind of like being immersed in a vat of testosterone.
On a trip to South Beach, Florida, as a guest of the Miami Tourist Board, I once landed smack in the middle of grid lock in a nightclub where smoke hung over the elbow-room-only throng, the music was so loud you could forget about conversation and drinks cost more than $15 a pop for a gut-wrenching chardonnay.
I realized after the first intake of smoke, I was way too old for this. It was not unlike getting a tooth pulled without Novocain, but I chalked it up to another new experience And hey, now when someone mentions “South Beach” I get it.
Here I was again out of my element, in a male world where my in-depth knowledge about football history was seriously challenged, limited to cheering over the years for Buffalo mainly because my three sons are fanatic Bills’ fanatics. My memory bank on baseball and track was even more woefully grim.
Still it was great just being with the group at the events and the golf. The guys were fun, easy. Laughed a lot. Together they didn’t looked too tall or too big. It’s just when normal-sized people got up close you saw the power.
They obviously enjoyed an easy camaraderie. It was a time for them to renew old friendships and try some of the St. Kitts Brinley Gold rum. Many brought their kids, wives or girlfriends who enjoyed the Emerald Mist Spa while their kids splashed in the sprawling pool or in the very warm ocean.
Some showed signs of the toll the game had taken on their health like Darryl Talley who had a gimpy leg which he wrapped before he teed off. “We have to work out regularly to keep things like arthritis from setting it,” said Bruce Smith, who turned out to be on my team and my cart partner. I lucked out.
Teams for the best-ball event were drawn randomly according to handicap. The other two guys on our team included an overworked dentist from Houston with a bad back and another guy who started out having a bad day. Smith’s shoulders were fortunately strong, his humor intact, so he carried us most of the way.
Bets among the Legends were flying around faster than a meteor shower. And make no mistake, they wanted to win even though the money in the $1000s was awarded to their charity, Operation Smile, a medical humanitarian organization that provides reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities. The charity also received money from the Silent Auction where people bid on items like signed jersey’s, hats, pictures, trips and more.
Most of these men have been through hard times in a fast world. Many grew up in tough neighborhoods and had to fight hard to rise above their backgrounds and addictions. But many remember where they came from. They had made …and lost… a lot of money. Some wore Rolex watches and enormous rings the size of door knobs.
But they didn’t come to St. Kitts just for a golf game and some free booze and food. They came to support their charities like Operation Smile. It’s good to know gentle giants like Bruce Smith and Gerry Cooney and their pals are giving back and establishing scholarships and foundations to help other kids and communities. They care. They remember.
There aren’t a whole lot of events where the average Joe can mingle and play golf with sports stars like Carson, Mike Sellers now playing for the Washington Redskins, or Gus Williams, a former NBA player with the Seattle SuperSonics. Where you can laugh with them as Thurman Thomas brings down the crowd at the Awards Dinner with his hilarious spot-on humor and portrayal of the players.
They’ll probably do this again next year. Contact www.stkittsmarriott.com
|« Women's Golf Month a good time to mentor new golfers: one-shot events just don't work||What would happen if Government controlled golf? »|
Feedback awaiting moderation
This post has 1 feedback awaiting moderation...