Growing up I played a lot of golf with three lifelong friends. In 1980, the hottest summer on record before this one, we’d tee off at first daylight – 6 a.m. – to beat the heat. Those were great times and I have lasting memories of our outings on the links. Sadly, in October 1982, one of our foursome died in a car accident.
The following summer, the three of us left behind decided to start a golf tournament to honor our friend. The first outing had 12 players. Over the next decade it steadily grew, and we typically had 88 participants. During years 13-23, another good friend took the reins and did a great job. Through it all, we raised more than $100,000 for a scholarship fund at our high school in Fort Worth. After the 2005, tournament, everyone knew the time had come to end it.
Then one year ago this week, another friend reached out and asked if we would allow him to restart it. “That was such a wonderful chance for everyone to get together every year,” he said. “I’d be willing to do all the work, if you guys will tell me what needs to happen.” Of course, we said yes, and on Sunday 40 of our long-time players will tee it up in the 24th Paul Knippel Memorial.
I turned 23 the week of that first tournament. Everyone who played was within a few years of my age. Now we’re on either side of 50. This time, my 17-year-old son is playing with me, along with my 21-year-old nephew and my brother. By grace, those of us in the Class of ’78 have lived a lot of life Paul never had the opportunity to experience. Somewhere, he’ll be smiling as we gather again. Life passes quickly. Make sure you reconnect with those who matter.