AUGUSTA, Ga. — Ben Crenshaw’s rental house was packed Friday night for Team Crenshaw’s celebration of The Final Walk. And while there were a few tears, the night – which went well past midnight – was really all about the past 44 years for Ben (and 54 for his caddie Carl Jackson).
After a dinner of barbeque flown in from The Salt Lick in Austin – the same place that Crenshaw selected to serve up the Champions Dinner in 1996 after his win the previous year – a crowd of at least 80 people squeezed into the living room, up the staircase and spilled out open patio doors to watch a marvelous 36-minute video montage of Ben’s journey from his first Masters as an amateur in 1972 through Friday’s final 18.
His assistant Shirley Miller pulled together the photos and video clips, Ben’s wife Julie chose the music and everyone had a blast watching everything from 20-year-old Ben sitting in the Butler Cabin to the incredible 60-footer in 1984 that punctuated his first Green Jacket. It wound through family and Team Crenshaw photos from the past – including a great photo of his dad Big Charlie with Ben and older brother Charlie, family photos and, of course, shots of Team Crenshaw at Augusta from all those years.
Ben talked about friendship and Bobby Jones and just how special it was to have so many people there – all of whom were tied together by their friendship with the two-time Masters champion.
On Saturday, Crenshaw told Golf Channel why he decided to quote Jones when discussing friendship.
“It was so emotional when he received the Freedom of the City at St. Andrews,” Crenshaw explained. “He at the time thought it was getting the key to the city, but it was much more than that. It was during the Eisenhower Cup matches. He had some notes in his pocket, but he talked about friendship the whole time.
“When people read that, it shows what kind of man he was. He did a very extemporaneous takeoff on what the word ‘friend’ and friendship means. He basically said friends are amongst life’s most treasured possessions, and a life rich in friendship is full indeed, and said many other things. It was a very touching ceremony.”
Among the well-wishers Friday night were some of his old roommates, including Bobby Kay; his golf course design partner Bill Coore; former Longhorn players like Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee; and Hambric Sports’ David Winkle. There were Austin friends, business friends and media friends.
Close friend Rob Gillette, who helped found Team Crenshaw, presented Ben with a print of the first Masters Invitation logo redone with names of so many of those close friends.
Julie read some e-mails from close friend “43” — better known as President George W. Bush. One of the e-mails was heartfelt; another thanked Ben for shooting 43 in his opening nine.
The Gatlin Brothers – Larry, Rudy and Steve – who were at the rental house in 1984 to greet Crenshaw after his first Masters win, led everyone in “The Eyes of Texas.” They also sang another song for Carl.
The night was about Ben, but it was also filled with stories from all those friends that made the two wins sweeter and the close calls easier to digest.