Ike Grainger served as Board Chairman of The First Tee of Greater Charlotte, Executive Director, and Development Director. He is retiring at the end of this month. The letter below is written by Ace level participant, Max Wimbrow, to his dear friend, coach, and mentor, Mr. Grainger.
I don’t want this to sound like a goodbye letter so I promise I will do my best to not make it sound that way! The times that we have spent together, whether it’s been on the 7th green at Pebble Beach or on the driving range at The First Tee, have always been awesome. You are not only my “caddy at Pebble” but also one of my best friends. I know that you are always there whenever I need some advice on life or golf, and you are always ready to give me and all the other kids at The First Tee words of wisdom.
I want to thank you for being one of the very best Executive Directors of The First Tee of Greater Charlotte. You have opened more doors for me and the other participants than we could have ever imagined. You are the special piece to the puzzle that makes this First Tee Chapter the best in the country. For that I am extremely grateful. Everyone that comes through The First Tee doors will miss you. So come back every once in a while!
Many people know you were my caddy at the 2014 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. My favorite memory of our trip was at the 16th hole at Pebble in my practice round, because it was the first time I ever saw you speechless. If you remember, I hit a cut off of the tee and this one went over a few trees and we lost sight of it. So we go up there and look around for it and I find it and I had no stance because it was an inch from going into a creek. I could’ve played backwards through the trees to the fairway (which is what you wanted me to do!) or try a flamingo shot and hit on one foot. You know Max Wimbrow, so you know what option I chose. I remember you asked me what was I going to do and that you didn’t like where I was looking, and I told you I was going to hook a 9 iron 50 yards over these 40 foot cypress trees onto the green and then asked you to get a yardage. For the record, you tried to convince me not to try this but my mind was made up. From 153 yards I hit it and hooked it perfect. The ball landed within a foot of the hole and rolled of the side of the green about 20 feet from the pin. I just looked at you and then laughed like “I told you so!” and you just shook your head in shock for the next 20 minutes and didn’t say a word. Although we would have made the same score from your idea you never admitted that it was a good shot, so please text me that it was!!
Also it’s worth telling you that I enjoy the back and forth conversations that we have after Duke vs. UNC games. The picture that you sent me from Thanksgiving game between Duke and UNC from 1959 hurt a bit, actually hurt a lot! For the record, I even Googled it to make sure you didn’t photo-shop it.
I will never forget the places we have gone or the things we have done. I will miss you the most.