The last few months have been very strange when it comes to high profile deaths. We are all used to hearing of celebrities and well known figures passing away every year, and some are surely more significant than others, but June and July of 2009 have been far more active than normal when it comes to the obituaries, and the golf world is no exception.
Starting on June 9, David Carradine of Kung Fu fame and most recently the Kill Bill movies, was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room, hanging in the closet with his hands behind his back and shoelaces around his neck and privates.
Ed McMahon passed away quietly on June 23. he was 86 years old. He became known as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on the Tonight Show, and later as the host of Star Search and co-host of the Bloopers and Practical Jokes series with Dick Clark.
Next, on June 25th we lost Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Farrah’s battle with cancer was well documented, and her passing was overshadowed by the typical media frenzy that surrounds anything to do with the Jackson family. Michael Jackson’s life was shrouded in mystery and crazy stories, and even in death he couldn’t avoid the conspiracy theories and wild news reports. Now it seems like the local authorities are treating his death as a homicide. Will the drama never end?
Just a few days later we heard of the death of television pitchman Billy Mays. Even if he annoyed the hell out of everybody with his constant yelling and weird hand motions, you still have to feel for his family and friends. He became famous while pitching such must have items as Mighty Putty, Zorbeez and OxiClean. He even did a commercial parody of himself, promoting ESPN360.com. Sadly, we are now left with this idiot.
As strange as it was to loose so many high profile celebrities in such a short time span, the world of golf was unfortunately not immune to this phenomenon. On June 8, Five time PGA Tour winner Ken Green was in his RV driving down interstate 20 in Mississippi when a tire blew, causing the vehicle to lose control and go off the road and hit a large oak tree. His brother Bill and his girlfriend Jean Marie Hodgin were both killed in the crash, and Ken lost part of his right leg. Green has been through many issues in his life, including a messy divorce and custody battle and financial troubles. This latest setback would be enough to cripple most men, but Ken is determined to return to competitive golf on the Champions Tour. His friends in his home town of Danbury Connecticut have set up a benefit tournament on September 28 to help raise funds for Ken. Ken is recovering in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law, PGA Tour official Slugger White.
Just when we thought things might settle down, On Sunday June 21, Nationwide Tour golfer Chris Smith’s wife Beth was killed in a car accident and their children seriously injured when the SUV they were passengers in struck a Greyhound bus carrying a Canadian football team from London, Ontario. Chris’s children Abigail and Cameron was listed in critical condition, but have since been released from the hospital. The funeral was held on July 14th in Peru, Indiana for Beth Smith.
Let’s hope this string of recent deaths doesn’t continue. It’s depressing to constantly hear about the next person that passed away on the news. In the case of Micheal Jackson I’m afraid we haven’t heard the end of it. In fact, I think it will be several months or even more before he can be finally put to rest and the tug of war for remainder of his estate is over.
As far as Chris Smith and Ken Green are concerned, it will be a great story to see both playing again on tour very soon. In fact, I have played with an amputee golfer before, and he had also lost his right leg below the knee like Ken Green. He once won the World Amputee Championship and maintains a 4 handicap. The prosthetic leg will change the way he swings, but he may still be able to compete on the tour. To help support his comeback, visit www.kengreenscomeback.com
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