NOTE: It was 25 years ago today. But instead of me trying to explain why I played 32 holes of golf that day instead of tending to a very pregnant wife, here’s my account which was published in an edition of Pack Power, a quarterly newspaper published by the Wolfpack Club for which I was the Publications Editor. Remember, this was 25 years ago. No cell phones, just land lines. Here’s that account:
The annual Wolfpack Club Summer Jamboree is a special time for recreation, though also because so many of the coaches and staff are there including football coach Tom Reed and his entire staff and basketball coach Jim Valvano and his entire staff. Also, many wonderful members of the Wolfpack Club take part.
The Jamboree was once again held at Foxfire Inn and Country Club near Pinehurst June 7-9, and there were about 40 Wolfpackers present, all ready and eager for some enjoyable golf, great fellowship and lots of fun.
Little did I know, even though I had a good indication before I went that this weekend would be one of my greatest ever. You see, my wife was about nine months and two days pregnant before I left my Cary home for Foxfire. That was on Friday (June 7) before breakfast. Nancy was fine and didn’t think the baby would arrive within the next couple of hours, plenty of time to get to Foxfire and back if she happened to call while I was on the road.
The drive to Foxfire was peaceful except for a few thunder showers along the way. Being from Sanford, I know the area rather well and enjoy traveling through Moore County, an especially picturesque area with peach orchards and golf courses. From the road, the course at Foxfire looked inviting, and I knew breakfast would be good, especially since departure time was early.
Several staffers knew of my expected child, so they questioned my participation in this year’s event, but since I was only just over an hour from home it was okay. Sometimes it takes me an hour to get home in the afternoon, so this hour’s drive away was no big problem.
Friday went by just fine; no calls from home. All the Wolfpackers and staff members there once again enjoyed the golf, fun and food on Friday. Jim Valvano spoke at dinner Friday night and was once again his usual great self. The pairings for the Saturday Super Ball were announced, and, as usual, there was a lot of moaning and groaning. Everyone said their team was unfairly put together and everyone had a favorite to win the next day.
I went to bed that night knowing there were no labor pains and not worrying about my foursome. And, then came the dawn.
After a 6:30 a.m. breakfast, I was standing in the lobby at Foxfire, waiting on The News and Observer. I’ve waited on that paper since I was knee high to my big brother. One of these days I will learn to go ahead without all those words of wisdom, if you know what I mean. Anyway, about 7:00 a.m., the phone at the registration desk rang. In a split second, the desk clerk said, “Jim, it’s your wife. Pick up the lobby phone when it rings.”
“Yes, dear,” I said excitedly.
“I’m going to the hospital,” Nancy said with caution.
“I’m on my way home.”
“No, this could be a false alarm, or it might not be time and then they’ll just send me home.”
“Well, what do you suggest,” I said.
“Just stay there. What time do you play,” said Nancy.
“I’ll call you before then and let you know what’s going on.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, Jim, there’s no reason to come home. It’s probably a false alarm. I’ll call you later. Goodbye,” Nancy said.
After hanging up, I turned to the small crowd that had now gathered in the lobby to answer the questions. “She’s going to the hospital,” I told them.
“Want me to drive you to Raleigh,” someone asked.
“Can I do anything for you?” someone else inquired.
Turning down all offers, I thanked them all and told them the situation. Then I returned to my room and found myself in a discussion of the situation with Jim Valvano, one of my roommates for the weekend. He said Nancy really wanted me to come home but that she was playing hard to get. Best way out was to do as she said and not as she might be implying, I said.
However, just to be safe, I packed my bags and put all my stuff in the trunk of my car. As the 8:30 shotgun start approached without the second phone call, I got a little nervous, but not for the reasons you may now be thinking. You see, I was the “A” player in my group which was made up of “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D” players, or those who shoot in the 80s, 90s, and 100s, just as every group had. Some of the groups had golfers who scored in the 70s Friday. The problem was that if I had to leave, Valvano would have to play in my place instead of spending the day rotating among the foursomes and playing a few holes in the Captain’s Choice Tournament.
This tournament is designed for each of the golfers in the group. Everyone hits a tee shot. The best one is chosen and everyone else picks up their tee shot. Then they all hit a second shot from the chosen site, and the game continues until the ball is holed out.
Jim Bass stopped by and asked if there was anything he could do, and in a flash of brilliance, I asked that the group designated to start on the first hole be moved to the seventh tee and that my group, which was set for the seventh tee be moved to the first tee so I could be near a telephone.
With all this done, and the remainder of the weekend firmly in the control of Bass and Mark Moeller, I put on the cleats, grabbed my golf bag and went to the first tee where the rest of the foursome—Bill Walker of Hickory, Paul Lavitt of Hickory and Will Roach of Raleigh, as well as Valvano—were preparing to hit. Still no telephone call from Nancy.
The other four hit their tee shots and then looked at me. Fate could wait no longer. Slightly shaking from what might be transpiring in Raleigh, and knowing that Valvano was willing and eager, I walked to the space between the tee markers and up righted my Titleist 384 DT100 on that little white peg. After a couple of practice swings which were more like short sweeps of a broom, I got set, took a fast back swing and then hit the ball somewhere to the right.
Just as I was following the ball from the tee, the squeak of the pro shop door could be heard in the background, and a voice rang out, “Jim, you’ve got a telephone call in here.” Dropping the club and ignoring the flight of the ball, as did everyone else in the group, I ran across the tee, leaped over a small fence, darted up the cart path and ran into the pro shop. After all that, which I must admit was a little dramatic, they told me the call had to be transferred from the main switchboard.
“Jim,” said Nancy, “I’m still at the hospital.”
“You want me to come home?”
“Well, the doctors are still checking me, but I don’t think it’s time. I guess I’ll be going back home."
“You want me to come home?” I asked again,
“I don’t think so. You go ahead and play. I can reach you there if anything else happens. No reason to come home right now. Just check with me after you play.”
No argument from me. I told her I love her and then we terminated the call. Oh, yes, she told me to play well and have a good time. That was just what the doctor ordered.
Valvano played with us a couple of holes, and after those, our group was two under par. He then went ahead and played with the rest of the field, and our group continued to burn it up. My drive was working consistently, straight down the middle most of the day and long off the tee. Will and Bill hot some beautiful second shots as did Paul, and I even had a couple. We all made a few putts except for Bill Walker. He made a lot of putts, including three from lengths of 12 feet, six feet and 10 feet on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. We turned in a 61, 11 under par and took top honors by one shot over a foursome headed by Bill Neal.
Immediately after the round, I tried to call Nancy, first at the hospital—she wasn’t there—and then at home—she wasn’t there either. Scores were collected and posted. We all had lunch. I was asked to play in another 18-hole match of regular golf that afternoon with Jim Bass, Jack Helms and John Brady. I called home one more time.
Thanks to some special neighbors, Nancy had made it to the hospital and back. No one at either place believed I was playing golf over an hour away. Anyway, she was doing fine and wondered if I was now headed home. Well, I told her, I was thinking about playing 18 more. After a brief moment of silence, and I’m sure disbelief on her part, she said to go ahead and asked if I was sure I could be reached anywhere on the course. With a yes answer and the revelation that my group had won the morning’s event, she reaffirmed her yes to my continued play, and I was off.
It was a good match with everyone playing hard, trying to match each other drive for drive, shot for shot, putt for putt. And, our group had a little match with Charlie Bryant’s group playing ahead of us. I was playing pretty good, about seven or eight over par through 14 holes when Jim Bass noticed someone approaching the 14th green.
“Is there a Jim in this group?” the stranger asked.
Bass and I both raised our hand.
“Is there a Jim Poom-r-ancse here?”
“Right here,” I said.
“You’ve got to get back to Raleigh. Your wife is in labor and she’s waiting for you at home to take her to the hospital.”
I was off in a flash, leaving the wishes of good luck in the background. It took five minutes to get to the clubhouse and 10 minutes more for me to wrap up all I could before leaving. The 75-minute drive to Cary and my home took about 60 minutes (not an endorsement for speeding), and I had Nancy in the car and at Rex Hospital by 6:00 p.m. she had called Foxfire at 4:10.
With golf balls in my pockets and my Amana visor on my head, we began our wonderful wait in the labor room. And, my how time just flew. I thought I might be able to get back to Foxfire for dinner, and we almost pulled it off.
At 10:55 p.m., Emily Kathleen Pomeranz, all 9-pounds, 3-ounces at 20 inches long, was born. It was a wonderful experience for me, being there in the delivery room, sans the hat, of course. Her first words were simply a loud cry. Nancy was and is very happy as was and am I. My first words to Emily were, “Go Wolfpack.”
The weekend was a splendid success!
Happy 25th Birthday, Emily!