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May 23, 2009

Alumni tournament leaves lasting memories

Most of the adult world is stuck in an office on Friday afternoon while I'm on the same golf course as a Heisman Trophy winner.

I put my tee in the ground and get ready to hit my shot. It needs to be a good one. My team needs me.

As I get ready to smack a drive down the middle of the fairway, a cart rolls up with USC strength and conditioning coaches Chris Carlisle and Jamie Yanchar.

"Dan, what are you doing here?" Carlisle asks.

"Just having some fun, playing some golf."

"Well," Carlisle asks, "let's see what you got."

I am now determined to be Tiger Woods for at least one shot. I imagine Carlisle and Yanchar inside the Trojan weight room. "Boy, Dan really knocked the crap out of that drive," Carlisle will say. "Handsome and talented - total package," Yanchar will reply. Everson Griffen's there too, bench pressing 900 pounds.

I line up for the drive, I take my backswing and as I get to the top, the sun bounces off my teammate's National Championship ring.

The ball goes maybe 30 yards; I am humbled.

This is just a snapshot of a terrific afternoon in the City of Industry at Industry Hills Golf Club during the 41st annual Trojan Football Alumni Club Golf Classic.

Over a 100 players took part in the outing. Some were former athletes like Clint Hampton, a two-time letterwinner and member of the 1978 National Championship team. Others were USC grads that love the football program. Some tried to walk-on and now are succeeding in the software business like Donovan Perkins. Others now help out by serving on the USC Marshall Alumni Association Board of Directors like Wayne Neale.

Others are reporters soaking up the sun and cursing like a sailor after topping a drive in front of USC coaches. This was my team.

We didn't win any trophies, but we didn't hurt anything other than our pride either. I lost a lot of balls on the course, but I made more memories.

I won't forget Wayne stepping behind the ball and blasting a drive 300-plus yards as he paid homage to Happy Gilmore. I won't forget Clint hitting a 5-foot putt at least 10 feet past the hole, showing the kind of touch you'd hope to see from a former defensive tackle. I won't forget Don taking time off from an important conference call on the course, putting the phone down to sink an important putt.

After struggling our way through the day (too many pars, not enough birdies), we headed in for even more fun. A silent auction with field passes to USC games, autographed memorabilia and trips to exotic locales waited for us.

The buffet was filled with delicious looking food, and just looking at the desert table gave me a nasty cavity.

USC athletic director Mike Garrett spoke to the room, talking about how the football program has become a multi-million dollar brand. He talked about how he loves to win, about how he loves to talk about USC academic prestige and about how he loves to kick the (crap) out of UCLA and Notre Dame.

The event continued into the night with a live auction and inspirational words from Carlisle.

By the time I left, I remember one thing Clint said to me after he struggled his way through a long hole.

"Beats work," he said.

Amen to that.


For more information of the Trojan Football Alumni Club, go to www.trojanfootballalumni.com


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