Don Petty

Don greeted me in the parking lot with a hardy “Dave” and a soft hug. Thus began our day of sharing a round of golf and sharing the stories of our golf adventures. His completed (or is it ever?) and mine just beginning.

Don’s journey began 4 years ago when he decided to honor his son who died of cancer at the age of 38. Jeff was his golfing and fishing buddy and Don wanted to do something to keep his memory alive. He decided to play golf in all of the lower 48 states.

Over the course of 3 years, Don drove around the country with no specific agenda but a very concrete goal. Some states he went end to end in and others he would just clip a corner to play a round of golf. Most nights he would sleep on a cot that he set up in the back of his van.

Don’s Ritual

Many years ago while playing golf, Jeff had a hole in one on the 17th hole. So Don decided to use that memory to honor his son. On the 17th hole of every course he plays he places a small piece of Jeff’s UPS uniform in the cup. Then after the round he takes a shot of Fireball Whiskey for Jeff.

Yesterday after the 17th, as we got in our cart I asked Don how it is that he doesn’t break down crying each time. He response floored me. “I’m all cried out, only good memories now.”

Don, thanks for wonderful memories of the round we shared and for sharing your story with me. Yeah, and thanks for the whiskey.

You can read more about Don’s Journey at:

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