124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

A parade for a Kansas City chief?

July 21, 2009

Tom Watson's remarkable performance in the British Open has sparked interest from his hometown of Kansas City in honoring him, the Kansas City Star is reporting.

"We've talked about it," Mark Siettmann, a spokesman for Mayor Mark Funkhouser, tells the newspaper. "Maybe a special action, or something like that. We haven't heard anything about a parade. We would absolutely be willing to be a part of that discussion."

The Kansas City Sports Commission also wishes to be part of any ceremony. "We've had conversations for years that Tom Watson has not been appropriately recognized for the contributions he's made," Kevin Gray, director of the commission, said. "Forget the game of golf -- for this community, too."

It has largely been forgotten, but among Watson's greatest contributions was simultaneously to the game and the community. In 1990, he resigned his membership of the Kansas City Country Club when the club denied Henry Bloch (of H&R Bloch fame) membership there, reportedly because Bloch was Jewish. Watson's first wife Linda was Jewish.

When the club finally began admitting Jewish members, including Bloch, Watson quietly rejoined, but his resignation and the ensuing publicity contributed to the club eventually changing its membership policy. For that alone, he deserves a parade.

-- John Strege