Thanks, Everett

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Sometimes it takes a personal encounter to know the measure of a man. For me, a chance meeting with Everett Kircher a dozen years ago told me volumes more than the interviews I'd conducted with him before or since. This is a story I've never told anyone-not my mother, not my brothers, not my wife. It never seemed like the time was right. Now is the right time.

Just after the award-winning Monument golf course had opened at Boyne Mountain ("I put my heart and soul into that project," Kircher recalled), my father and I had the opportunity to play it. My dad loved golf, but since he was a humble General Motors employee, most of his golf had been played on a public nine-hole layout near downtown Flint. For my dad, playing the Monument at Boyne was like walking out to our driveway to find a shiny new Cadillac.

After our round, we went into the pro shop restaurant, which was deserted with one notable exception. Everett Kircher was sitting alone at a table having an iced tea, and much to my surprise he waved us over and invited us to sit down. My dad played it cool, but I could tell he was brimming with excitement.

Everett and his son, Steve, had just returned from playing Donald Ross courses all over the world. They were in the process of selecting the holes that would be included in the Donald Ross Memorial course to be constructed at Boyne Highlands. My dad asked Everett what holes were his favorites, which was all the encouragement Everett needed to launch into a multi-media presentation.

Using a ballpoint pen and table napkins, Kircher began to sketch Donald Ross holes, detailing the design features of each, as well as the strategy needed to play them. We sat there for an hour or so, my dad and I asking questions and Everett responding with quips and stories. By the time we were finished, all 18 holes destined for the Memorial course were spread before us, each on an individual napkin, and my dad had not stopped smiling the entire time.

That was the last round of golf my dad and I played together. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with cancer, and following a valiant battle he passed away. On the day before he died, we sat in his hospital room, just the two of us. He reminisced about our encounter with Everett Kircher, saying he was the most impressive person he'd ever met. He was still amazed at how personable Kircher had been, and he never got over the fact that someone as important as Kircher had actually been interested in our opinions and had treated us with such hospitality.

To this day, I've not been able to bring myself to play the Ross Memorial course. For that day in the pro shop at Boyne, though, I will never be able to thank Everett Kircher enough.