By Alex Podlogar
I KNEW ON JUNE 15, 2014, I had let my last chance go – for good.
I needed, at some point that week during the U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2, to walk up to Dan Jenkins inside or outside the media center, offer to shake his hand and try to say something like, “I’ve always written my best when I’m reading your stuff in my spare time. Thanks.”
Granted, I would’ve been lucky – and perhaps sufficiently pleased – if I could’ve even mustered a measly “Thanks.”
I never did.
In my time working as a content guy for Pinehurst, I’ve found myself, usually toting a small video camera, in front of a lot of interesting people around this game.
I’ve walked up to Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Annika Sorenstam, asking for 5 minutes of their time. All said yes. (Actually, Phil gave me 2 minutes, but that same day, Rory gave me 10, including off-camera small talk.)
In 2013, I walked up to an obviously struggling Michael Campbell, beet-red on a blistering afternoon at Merion, him trying desperately to make the cut in his last U.S. Open – and asked for 5 minutes. “For Pinehurst?” he asked, a lilt in his voice. “You got it, mate.”
But I couldn’t bring myself to walk up to Jenkins. Not at the 2014 U.S. Open. Or that 2013 U.S. Open. Or the 2005 U.S. Open. Or the 1999 U.S. Open, when I watched him spar with Nicklaus at the Interview Flash Area, my then-23-year-old jaw dropping in unison with the other writers around me. We all just kind of moved back, circling the two like they were bullfighter and bull. (Jenkins, it should be said, was the bull.)
Everyone, especially today, says Dan was a kind and gentle soul, good to young writers, especially. I know I should’ve just said hello. I had my tattered copy of Dead Solid Perfect in my laptop bag every day of each of those championships, begging to be signed, always hopeful its dilapidated state might endear me, just a little, to him.
Everyone has their heroes. But not everyone gets a chance to meet their heroes. And very few ever get multiple chances.
I still couldn’t do it.
Ultimately, I guess, that’s what Dan Jenkins has meant to me.
Alex Podlogar is the Content and Media Relations Manager for Pinehurst Resort. He’s the guy nicely asking people if he can stick the camera into their faces to ask them about Pinehurst stuff.