THE CONCESSION — Fourteen-year-old Mason Fox has been carrying a putter around with him since well before he even knew how to walk.
The Sarasota Middle School eighth-grader’s father placed a putter in his son’s crib, looking to introduce his son to the game he enjoyed, and Fox has been enamored with the sport ever since.
Fox, who trains at the Jonathan Yarwood Golf Academy at The Concession Golf Club, has been competing in golf tournaments for the past four years. But no matter how many tournaments he wins or loses, Fox is always reminded that sometimes the greatest champions are those who are willing to concede to their competition.
Perhaps the most notable of those champions is Jack Nicklaus — Fox’s idol — who conceded a 2-foot putt to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup, creating the first-ever tie.
“All the golf tournaments he’s worked through … he’s finished second so many times,” Fox said. “He’s the greatest champion and to (some degree) probably the greatest loser to play the game. He inspires a lot of people, including me.”
On March 31, Fox got to meet his idol when Nicklaus returned to The Concession to discuss opportunities for improvements to the design of the course that bears his name.
“That was probably the best experience of the year,” a smiling Fox said while clutching a camera with a picture of him and his idol. “He’s the greatest golfer that ever lived, and I got to meet him.”
Last week’s visit was Nicklaus’ first to The Concession since the course opened in 2006. Prior to their press conference, Nicklaus and Jacklin played a round of golf on the highly regarded course with owner Bruce Cassidy.
“I’m delighted to be here,” Nicklaus said. “I played really well today. I bettered my age today and I haven’t done that in a long time.”
“I inspire you,” Jacklin chided.
Throughout their game, the two legends dissected each of the course’s 18 holes, looking for possible improvement opportunities.
“Today was all about getting Jack and Tony back on the course,” Cassidy said. “It’s a little like building your dream house. We discussed practically every hole. It’s already a great course — we just want to make it a little better.”
During a press conference, Nicklaus discussed the improvements they plan to make to further enhance the quality of the course, named the best new private course in the U.S. by Golf Digest when it opened in 2006.
Improvements include: removing some of the native grasses and vegetation that have grown up onto the fairways, widening portions of the fairway, moving certain member tees forward and modifying some of the greens, among other improvement plans. Nicklaus, Jacklin and Cassidy are looking to improve 12 of the course’s 18 greens.
“I’m far more interested in the golf course being successful, and to do that you need to put a little excitement in the greens — it’s the only defense a golf course has against good players,” Nicklaus said. “You’ve got an exciting set of greens here. The area we’re going to work on is where the average golfer is going to be (playing).
“The golf course has to be playable for the players who are going to play on it,” he said. “We just want to make it a better golf course.”
Nicklaus also encouraged members to share their thoughts on the course and any areas or trouble spots that may be in need of improvement.
“The best way to make a golf course better is to get input from its members,” Nicklaus said. “That input helps tremendously not only because we want you to be able to enjoy and play the golf course, but it’ll also help us bring in members in the future.”
For more information on The Concession visit www.theconcession.com.
For an exclusive golf tip from Nicklaus, click here.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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