Beck stays chipper through it all
"I've tried to go the other way. I've tried to pull the -- what's that guy's name, what's the greatest, Chip Beck, that guy rules! That guy is awesome. I mean, he's my idol. But I mean, I hear stories about him hitting it just whoosh over there into the bushes. He's like, 'OK, that's all right. I'll get the next one.' Whatever. I can't do it."
-- Will MacKenzie
YES, Chip Beck, who shot a 3-under 69 yesterday at the Turtle Bay Championship is one of the all-time optimists, not only in golf, but in life. Nothing shakes that smile. Yesterday, he said, "Even when I missed my drive at 18, I said, 'Heck, anything can happen.' "
That's how he comes back from that. That's how he responds. Even after errant shots he sees that sunny side.
"Anything good can happen, right? So that's a good feeling," he said.
That's how cheerful this guy is. Why, in his official Champions Tour bio, he lists his biggest thrill outside of golf as "Having a happy family."
And yes, he is yet another example of the best part about the Champions Tour. Him. Chip Beck. Not just the big names, not one more chance to see the Arnies and Jacks. But the great stories, these happy endings. All those heartwarming tales of guys who were wandering in the wildnerness for years, but then turned 50 and found their way home.
Yes, out here on the Champions Tour, Chip Beck is home again. Out here with his friends again. He is found.
It shows that he's right, that you can bounce back, don't give up. Anything good can happen, indeed. Because for the last several years, he'd been lost.
Beck once shot a 59 on the PGA Tour, won four tournaments, finished second 18 times, was picked for the Ryder Cup.
But then, suddenly, whoosh, like a bad shot into the bushes, his game abandoned him. It was gone. In 1997, he made three cuts in 32 starts. In '98, he made two cuts in 29.
Last year he told the Daily Herald, "I lost my game completely. I couldn't hit the side of a barn."
It was so bad it wasn't long before he was working in an office, insurance, financial services. He was a partner. He wore a tie.
"I had a real job," he said. "That was real work, too."
He spent five years playing part time on the Nationwide Tour.
No one wants to spend five years on the Nationwide Tour.
Luckily, there is no greater optimist, in golf and in life, than Chip Beck. Yeah?
"My wife is more optimistic than I am," he said.
Yes, my wife is an optimist, too. She would have to be.
Oh, wait. His wasn't a joke.
"I had given up on myself," he said.
She wouldn't let him quit.
After every missed cut, when he was in the minors, on the side, "She kept saying, 'Chip, you can do it,' " he said.
She kept him golfing. "She did."
He found a new swing coach. He played on the Nationwide Tour. Kept working, even with a "real job."
Then he turned 50, and he was found. He was home.
Yesterday he shot a 69 on the Arnold Palmer course to tie for 10th. Playing with all of his old friends. He was home.
IT'S AN ADVENTURE, when, whoosh, you're in the bushes, suddenly trying to make it as an old man on the Nationwide Tour. Still, old Chip saw the sunny side. Still, he had fun.
"I had a good time on the Nationwide Tour," he said. "But it was like I was playing with my sons."
Now, he can go out to dinner with the guys. Now, he can actually talk. He remembers one particular conversation with a kid when he was in the minors:
"He was saying, 'Chip, you don't shave your chest!' "
Apparently all the young studs are doing this, these days.
Here, he knows everyone. Here, it's like the old days all over again. Like so many of these guys on the Champions Tour, he gets his happy ending. He gets his second chance. He wandered in the wilderness for years, but now he's 50, and he's home again.
"What a beautiful golf course that back nine is," he said. "It might be Arnold Palmer's best."
It's so much fun. He's having the time of his life.
"Are you kidding?" Beck said.
So keep going. Even when your shot goes in the bushes. Even when you're lost, and stuck back on the Nationwide Tour. Anything good can happen, right? Eventually, it always does for Chip Beck.