Good Golf, Good Works – Iconic Shriners Event
The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is being held this week in Las Vegas at the TPC Summerlin. It is a sanctioned PGA event, but not a typical one. If you despair about a shrinking concern for one another among human beings these days, tune in to this tournament. It is almost sure to help you feel better. Defending champion Bryson de Chambeau will be there, along with Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and other luminaries. If you live in the north, it will give you one more glimpse of warm weather before the snow and rain sets in. The course is interesting, and the mission of the charity that established it couldn’t be better.
As a kid, I was fascinated with the sight of The Shriners appearing in all manner of activities, always wearing the fez. They seemingly never pass up the chance to drive miniature cars or hot rods in parades or huff and puff away in marching bands. The symbol of the sword over the medallion was captivating. I spent my whole youth wondering, “Who are these guys?” This week, I get to answer my own questions such as what’s with the cap? Let’s get that one out of the way first. The fez is Turkish, also called a tarboosh, originally from Persia. Fez was the capital of Morocco until 1927, and the order is formerly known as The Ancient Arabic Order of the Mystic Shrine. However, what is most important can be seen in the faces of millions upon millions of children receiving fine medical treatment because of this organization based in Tampa, Florida. The underlying impetus of the charitable society is “brotherly love, relief, and truth.” That’s a tall order, but I’m glad someone decided to do it.
To get up front what it’s all about, spectators will see not only the golfers, but some of the children themselves, walking along with players during the pro-ams and other components of the week. Since 1872, almost one and a half million children have benefited, and 22 major hospitals have been erected in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. The tournament will for a few days serve as the emblem of 97 years spent in specialized care from the largest sub-specialty health care system in the hemisphere. That’s who these guys are. The Shriners and all their fellow service organizations don’t just gather to have prime rib dinners together and talk about the weather. They’ve got vast worldwide missions. They aim high, and are passionate about helping those who need it most, and need it now.
I am not overly familiar with the TPC Summerlin course in Nevada, even though I lived there for a while – I must have been doing something else, or never met the right people. The comment sections fall on both sides. Some like the course, and some don’t. The 18 hole flyover, however, is very interesting, and reminds me a little of the southern Arizona desert courses around Phoenix and Tucson. Along the way are large tufts of brush in the most inopportune locations, such as in front of tees and greens. There’s something doubly weird to a muni player about guarding a green with a combination of brush, water and bunkers. TCP is among the greenest spots in Las Vegas, which I appreciate. For these pros, hitting over the quasi-link patches to reach the fairway should be mostly ceremonial. For the rest of us, a dubbed shot means going to commune with the roadrunners.
Oddsmakers predict low scores this week, but my eye will be on the pro-ams as well. A lot of good feelings and hard work are backing up this tournament, and the Shriners deserve a tip of the fez for undertaking it.