It was around 1997, and club member Ron Margeson was enjoying a round at Diamond Run in Sewickley when his playing partner made a suggestion. How about they play nine holes that Sunday and bring their sons along?
Margeson’s son was in eighth or ninth grade. His friend’s son, Patrick, couldn’t have been much older than seven.
“He must have seen my eyes roll or something,” Margeson recalls with a laugh. “He said, ‘No, no, no. Patrick, he’s not going to hold us up or anything.’ I said, ‘OK, fine.’ “
Before the foursome left the first tee, Margeson already was impressed by a small-but-confident kid with a big-time swing.
“I knew little Patrick, but I’d never seen him play golf,” Margeson said. “My God, that first swing. It’s like, holy crap! I often tell people, if you remember when we all saw Tiger Woods, when he was like three years old on television, Patrick’s swing was something like that. He could absolutely kill a ball.”
‘Little Patrick’ Reed, now 27, won the Masters on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Reed was born in Texas and attended high school in Louisiana, but he and his family lived near Diamond Run for about four years in the late 1990s when work brought them north. Reed was between six and 10 at the time, and the young golfer walked the course many afternoons with his father, Bill, who was a club member.
The vast majority of today’s members probably don’t know Patrick once played their course regularly, Margeson said. But those who do, like Margeson and former club pro Bob Collins, watched with delight Sunday when Reed donned a green jacket.
“Some of us old-timers always talk about Patrick,” Margeson said, “and I think all of us follow him when he’s in a tournament.”
“Knowing him as a little kid around the golf course and always admiring his little swing, I was so happy when he won,” said Collins, who was the club professional at Diamond Run at the time.
Reed eventually became a two-time college All-American at Augusta State and led his school to consecutive NCAA Division I titles in 2010 and ‘11 before turning pro. He rose to national stardom at the Ryder Cup when he defeated European star Rory McIlroy in singles.
Collins, who teaches at Yankee Run Golf Course in Brookfield, Ohio, said it was clear from Reed’s earliest days that he had unusual talent. Collins often noticed the youngster hitting balls on the practice range but never provided Reed with swing lessons.
“When I would watch him hit a ball, every time he made a full swing, he hit the ball as crisp as he possibly could,” Collins said. “He hit it as straight as he possibly could. And for his size, he hit it the maximum distance a kid his size could hit it. You tell me, what are you going to tell him? You say. ‘Keep up the good work.’ “
Some of Collins’ earliest memories of Reed are of him sitting on the scorer’s table while the club staff posted tournament results. Reed and his father would be waiting around for their afternoon round to start.
“He would say, ‘Wow, they made an eagle on hole 15?’ “ Collins said. “He’d just sit there and love watching us. He was always smiling. … He loved being at the golf course. He loved putting a golf club in his hands. It was just so natural.”
Reed posted a 1-under-par round Sunday to finish the Masters at 15-under. He two-putted the 18th to earn a one-shot win over Rickie Fowler.
“My wife (Diane) and I couldn’t sit down,” Margeson said. “We were standing up when he made that (last putt). … We looked at each other and said a three-and-a-half footer for the Masters. I wouldn’t be able to grip the club. Are you kidding me? He put a nice stroke on it. We were thrilled.”
Reed stayed at their house several years ago while trying to qualify for a tournament.
The Margesons became close friends with Reed’s parents, Bill and Jeannette. So close, in fact, that the Margesons are god parents to Patrick’s younger sister, Hannah.
When they all lived near Diamond Run, Margeson and his son joined Bill and Patrick Reed for 15 or 20 rounds.
“Every time he played, it wasn’t like four guys going out for a ‘ha ha’ fun Sunday afternoon,” Margeson said. “Patrick was in the zone every time he played golf. He was in the zone as a little kid.
“I think that concentration has really served him well over the years.”