Celebs hit the course at Regions pro-am

By Alec Etheredge | Sports Editor

HOOVER –  Warming up a few bays down from Gus Malzahn on the driving range was Auburn great Bo Jackson as the two prepared to tee off in the Regions Tradition Pro-Am at Greystone Golf and Country Club on Wednesday, May 17. It wasn’t Jackson’s swing, or his large build that impressed, but his interaction with a young fan on the driving range.

One of Jackson’s amateur partners in the event had his son on the range, oddly enough wearing an Alabama hat. The kid, still however, was star struck and couldn’t help but stare with amazement at one of the greatest athletes to ever entertain us.

Before walking over to greet Jackson, the kid’s dad told him to turn his hat around backwards. As he approached Jackson with an envelope, Jackson was curious as to what the kid wanted, but knew he wanted something.

“Do you have any money?” Jackson asked. The kid responded with a nervous no before Jackson said jokingly with a smile, “You don’t have any money, but you want something, how can you want something from me without any money. The price is $2 million.”

The boy looked at him and kind of smiled while frowning at the same time not really knowing what to think of the moment. His father then told him to show Mr. Jackson what’s in the envelope.

He pulled out a Bo Jackson Oakland Raiders rookie card for Jackson to autograph. Jackson then gave a quick response of, “Where’d you get that? I want to give you $2 million for that now,” before going on to sign the card.

Jackson then proceeded to walk to the first tee to join Miguel Angel Jimenez for their 8:30 a.m. tee time, but made sure to yell back to the kid “Hey don’t forget to tell your dad he still owes me $2 million dollars.

You could just see the look of joy on the kid’s face, which is what makes this annual tradition of celebrities gracing the course prior to the start of each year’s tournament such a special occasion.

Jackson was one of several celebrities in attendance, which included several SEC football coaches like Gus Malzahn, Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen.

“Haven’t been playing a lot of golf lately,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “I played at the Chick-fil-A and played a couple in between then, but not as much as I’d like to play, there’s a lot of recruiting going on.”

When Smart was asked who the best football coach was on the golf course, he let out a sigh of sorts before answering as if he knew the answer immediately.

“I’d have to say Hugh Freeze because he wins everywhere he goes,” Smart said. “He’s won the Chick-fil-A event two times in a row but I haven’t played with everybody so I don’t know.”

Smart went on to talk about the event as a whole and what it not only means from a charity standpoint, but also what it means for promoting the game.

“It’s for charity and any time you’re doing charitable events, I think it’s a great cause. The SEC is such a passionate territory for football and when you get a chance to come and be a part of this, it promotes our game and that’s what this is about.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, while enjoying the event, had other concerns when it came specifically to his golf game.

“I just try to get it air born, that’s my goal,” he said.

Saban has gotten plenty of help to take his golf team to the next level as Alabama men’s golf coach Jay Seawell, a national champions coach as well, and professional, Steve Stricker, whom he played with in the pro-am, have both been helping to give him pointers.

“I have good coaches, but sometimes you have to be athletic enough to execute and that seems to be the problem with me,” Saban said with a chuckle.

Whatever the golf game, it doesn’t seem to matter out here on days like this as all of these accomplished stars took time to make other people’s day by chatting with fans, taking pictures and signing autographs as they took a moment away from their jobs to take it all in.

In Jackson’s case in particular, that kid will never forget the time he met Bo Jackson and will probably be the happiest person ever to be $2 million in debt.