Where Were You On 9/11

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I can remember the day vividly.

I was on the road conducting golf clinics in Bristol TN.  It started as just another day doing what I love to do, conducting golf clinics.  In those days I traveled an average of 135 days a year, in a different city every day helping golfers around the US to improve their games.

During a 2 year period we saw 200K golfers,  had a crew of 6 and held these clinics in hotels.

We were at the Hilton in Bristol and the room was packed, we had over 250 golfers that day in attendance.  These clinics ran for 3 hours, myself and a club manufactor rep shared time on stage.

Typically, I would present swing ideas and then ask for a volunteer to join me on stage.  I would ask them how long they had been playing, what their handicap was, the shot(s) that gave them the most trouble, and what they would like to improve.  After having them warm up, by hitting balls into a net, I would start the process of helping them.

We have a very large screen on stage so that everyone in the audience could see what we were doing.  In addition, we were running a video camera and could play back the swings.  After a few swings, and making the necessary changes, we would run the tape side-by-side so that everyone could see the before and after of the person on stage.

That day, after I had finished with the player, I took a break while the club rep took the stage.  As I walked out into the lobby I immedately noticed large crowds gathered around the multiple TV’s and several people were anxiously on their phones.  I walked over to one of the TV’s and as I looked up I saw the second plane crash into the tower.

I stood there in shock not knowing what to do.

People were trying to get back to their families but all flights had been canceled.  Those lucky enough to have rental cars were making their way back home.

We had a room full of people that did not know what had just happened.  I went back into the room, made my way to the stage, and calmly told everyone what had just happened and suggested they make their way home.  Fortunately, the majority of the attendees were locals.

We were scheduled to travel from Bristol to Knoxville then Nashville and finally Memphis on this trip.  We couldn’t get a flight out either so the only thing to do was to go to our scheduled cities.  I called the office and asked if they had seen the news, they had, and then asked if the other cities has been canceled, they said no.  No one has called to cancel their attendance.

As we proceeded to do our clinics golfers still showed up but the mood was somber.  In Nashville, I went down to the business center to send out emails before we left for Memphis and call friends up in NY so check on them.  As I was sitting at the computer I glanced down at the waste basket and saw a binder filled with pages.  I picked it up to see what it was and it was a flight manual!

I immediately called hotel security and they called the FBI.

When they arrived I was questioned and asked if I had seen anyone at the computer prior to me using it.  I answered no.

They then did a search on the computer trying to find a link to the flight manual and tracked down 2 people that had used it before me.  They had gotten on a shuttle to the airport and as they were getting out one of the men handed the shuttle driver a knife explaining that he had forgotten he had it.  Evidently they didn’t know that all flights had been canceled.  The FBI tracked them down but I don’t know what happened after that.

When we arrived in Memphis we checked into our hotel, Hilton, and went to our rooms.  Within 15 minutes there was a knock on my door.  I opened the door and a Memphis police officer stood there and said, “We just received a bomb threat and we need to evacuate the hotel.”

Once I got outside, with the crew, everyone from the hotel was standing in front of the building.  I noticed that the entire front of the building was glass and to the north of the hotel was another building, a parking garage with no glass.  I suggested that everyone move to the parking garage and away from the glass.  No one moved so I took our road crew over for shelter, just in case.

After the bomb squad checked the building and found nothing we were allowed to go back in.

After we finished our clinic we checked to see if we could a flight out but the planes were still grounded.  I called DFW, Dallas Ft. Worth, and they said we could get from there so we saddled up and headed to Dallas.  Once we arrived we turned in our rental cars and checked into the hotel hoping to get out the next day.

That didn’t happen!

We were stuck at the hotel for another 3 days and until finally flights were allowed.  Our crew was mostly based out west, Oregon and California, but we did have 2 people based in Florida.  Had we known we couldn’t get out we would not have turned our rental cars in!

I think about 9/11 every year at this time and am saddened by the loss of life.  The civilians, firefighters, police.

Lest we never forget!

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