I absolutely loved to watch Payne Stewart swing a golf club. Like Ernie Els, he had a smooth, rhythmical swing that looked like flowing treacle. On top of that he always had an impish look on his face and was known as a practical joker. 16 years after his unforgettable plane accident, TJ Auclair from pga.com remembers Payne in this tribute.
It’s hard to believe, but Saturday marks the 16th anniversary of the tragic passing of one of golf’s most charismatic figures, Payne Stewart.
Stewart, an 11-time PGA Tour winner and three-time major champion, perished in a LearJet plane accident on Oct. 25, 1999, when the cabin lost pressure. All on board died of hypoxia — a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.
The plane, still on auto-pilot, crashed in a field in Mina, S.D., when it eventually ran out of fuel. Stewart’s agents Robert Fraley and Van Ardan, and pilots Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue, along with Bruce Borland, a highly regarded golf course architect with the Jack Nicklaus design company, also perished.
Stewart was 42 at the time of his death. He was just four months removed from what would prove to be his final major championship victory, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, an incredible tournament where Stewart outlasted a then-majorless Phil Mickelson.
The plane incident happened just one month — nearly to the day — after Stewart was part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that mounted a then record-setting, final day, come from behind victory in the 1999 matches at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
That was Stewart’s last public appearance and, if ever there was an everlasting way to remember someone, that was it.
Stewart had always been known for two things — his distinctive clothing (plus-fours and tam-o-shanter hat) and his intensity. Before those 1999 Ryder Cup matches, Stewart mixed things up a bit when he suggested that based on the strength of the European team — or perceived lack thereof — they should be caddying for the U.S. team not playing against them.
Harsh, no doubt, but that was Stewart’s personality. He loved dishing it out, but also had a heart the size of the Wanamaker Trophy that he won in the 1989 PGA Championship.
In his Sunday singles match, Stewart displayed the type of sportsmanship he’ll forever be remembered for. His opponent Colin Montgomerie was having a horrible week with the Boston galleries heckling his every move. With the Ryder Cup already secured late that afternoon for the Americans, Stewart picked up Montgomerie’s golf ball on the 18th hole and conceded the match out of courtesy.
It was mature, it was classy, it was the right thing to do. It exemplified the person Payne Stewart had come to be.
Payne Stewart’s Statue overlooks the 18th green at Pinehurst #2
Source : TJ Auclair PGA.com
Pictures : Mike Renlund Bradley P Johnson
One of the highlights of my year is that in August of each year I organize a group trip to either Scotland, Ireland or South Africa. I recently took a group to Scotland and for all of them, it was their first trip over. Although they all said it was a trip of a lifetime, most of them said what Craig Better from golfvacationinsider.com has so accurately described below. I have also found out the hard way, but all obstacle can be overcome if you plan ahead.
“One moment in Time” plaque at Pinehurst #2
18th hole and clubhouse St Andrews Old Course
Have you ever taken a golf trip “across the pond?” Do you remember “discovering” some things you wish you would have known in advance? I certainly do, and to this day, I’m shocked that nobody told me these important details…
To see the other 3 things you need to know when playing Scotland and Ireland for the first time, go here!
Source: Golf Vacation Insider Craig Better
Pictures: Gregory Stewart
- Jet Lag Most flights from North America are overnighters, during which you get little sleep (but sometimes lots of alcohol), so when you step off the plane early the next morning, your every instinct is to put your head in a bed. Advice I’d give a first timer: Don’t do it. Instead, take the latest flight you can and do whatever possible to sleep on the plane. But even if you can’t, just land then go play golf. The faster you get on local time, the better.
- Rental Cars Again, while sleep deprived and bleary eyed, you’ll be expected to drive a stick-shift vehicle on the opposite side of the road (while sitting on the right-hand side and operating the stick with your left hand). Oh, and if you’re head isn’t already mixed up enough, you’ll usually have to navigate a traffic circle, or “roundabout,” within five minutes. Advice I’d give a first timer: Hire a driver, which is quite common over there. If you insist on driving, at least request an automatic transmission. And, get a mini van (or pack light). The rental cars tend to be quite small for groups with golf clubs.
- Practice Facilities OK, so you’re less than alert and not ready for golf, but it’s nothing a few range balls can’t fix. Well, that’s a problem, too. While there are a few exceptions, you’re generally not going to find a practice range (or a conveniently located one) at the great, classic links courses in the UK and Ireland. Advice I’d give a first timer: Do some light stretching before you tee off and concentrate on just keeping your ball out of trouble for the first few holes.
Group with caddies at Kingsbarns, Scotland