ABILINE, Texas — Grant Boone, his driver in hand, looked across Diamondback National Golf Club on Monday and praised the weather.
“Not bad,” he said.
No, not bad. … for 7:35 a.m., when his lanky form cast a shadow across the tee box. Heck, it wasn’t even 80 degrees yet.
Boone was the first player on the course, permitted to play 100 holes — if he could do it — to benefit Meals on Wheels. Donors pledged by the hole or a lump sum. A few promised bonuses for birdies and eagles.
Well, Boone was up to the challenge on the hottest day of the year.
Some like it hot
By about 2 p.m., when he took a break to change from damp to dry clothing and enjoyed brisket provided by The Shed, he had logged 80 holes. He was waiting for his son Nick to show up to finish.
It was 103 degrees by then, but the temperature kept nudging up.
“I’m not saying it’s comfortable,” he said, ready to tee off for hole No. 81, “but some wayward wind and occasional cloud cover and … “
And it still was hot.
With 20 holes to go, he said more than $7,000 was promised.
He received texts of encouragement throughout the day, and he wasn’t ashamed to say he pitched his effort to his national TV colleagues, who made donations. A few were to come internationally, which may be a first for the Abilene-based meals program that provides hot lunches weekdays.
He was thinking maybe $10,000.
Before Boone finished his challenge, it was 108 degrees.
He had joked he might play bonus holes to match the temperatures. But eight more?
“I did not. Just 100. I wimped out,” he said.
One hundred holes, by his latest count of money in hand and pledges promised, he had topped $10,000. Maybe closer to $11,000 if everyone comes through.
“It was infinitely worth it,” he said.
Boone had five birdies, kicking himself for perhaps rushing a few shots.
Some shots just didn’t fall. A long putt on No. 17, for example, rolled uphill at pace, slowed and then crossed the left lip of the cup.
“How did that not go in?” he asked, his arms wide, as he approached the ball resting inches from the hole.
“I had a lot of putts for par. I should’ve taken more time,” he said. “I had a bunch of good looks.
“I feel like I let Meals on Wheels Plus down. I wasn’t going to cheat on a putt 5-6 feet out,” he said. “If I were to do it over again, I’d take more time with the early day birdie putts. But you live and learn.”
Boone said he wasn’t going to rush around the course, but he attached a handicap flag provided by Diamondback to his cart to allow him to park closer to the green.
He figured he’d go through two carts, especially when the first offered a grinding sound two holes in. He did.
He had Gatorade on ice, with golf course owner Charles Coody offering those and even lunch, along with his encouragement. Known to be frugal with his money, Coody perhaps was in a generous mood because Monday was his 83rd birthday.
Former Abilene Christian University golfer Brady Nichols brought cold slices of watermelon. Mrs. 100, Amy Boone, came out a few times to check on her husband. She didn’t stay long.
Before Boone began play, he did a live selfie into the sunrise. He mentioned his go-to route, No. 11, that he delivers Tuesdays through Fridays and even listed the names of the recipients. Miss Henrietta, for one, and his former first stop, a man named Jerry. Jerry recently died.
Boone said he sporadically helped Meals on Wheels before mid-March, when COVID-19 shut down sports. His last broadcast was an ACU basketball game in San Antonio. He was in Katy for the conference tournaments when those were canceled.
He is supposed to broadcast LPGA events for the Golf Channel later this month, but he isn’t all that optimistic.
So, he has had the time. Meals on Wheels, in turn, has had the need.
Staying on course
Normally, Boone walks the course, of which he has been a member, but Monday had a cart. He promised not to strike the ball from the driver’s seat.
Don’t laugh. It has been done.
“I think walking has helped,” Boone, in the afternoon, said of his stamina. The cart felt like cheating, he confessed.
He did not hurry, but he did not consider, then reconsider his club choice or toss grass into the air to judge the effect of what was a light breeze. He did use his scope to gauge accurate distances for his longer shots.
Many shots were accompanied by color commentary. The broadcaster couldn’t help it.
Boone got off to a fast start. In more ways than one.
He parred the first three holes, tapping in a gimme putt on the first one and rolling in long putts the next two.
The third hole he played had no pin flag. He aimed his shot to the right side of the green. The hole was on the other side. No worries. He rolled in the putt.
Three holes, 11 shots, 10, maybe 11 minutes.
“I won’t keep up this pace,” he said. But he hoped to play 50-60 holes by noon, before it really got hot.
Oh, it got hot. But he got-r-done.
He played the final 18 leisurely with Nick. He hit his best iron shot of the day on the final hole.
“It was like a normal round of golf,” he said. “Just in a furnace.”
He was live on a Dallas sports radio station, which netted another $500 or so in outside donations.
“It was a great day. … I’d do it again. But I am taking today off from golf,” he said Wednesday morning, before loading up for a Route 11 delivery. “I think I could play 150 holes.”
But not if it’s that hot.
Greg Jaklewicz is editor of the Abilene Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.