“Where were you when…?” narrator John Cusack asks. When what? When Kennedy was shot? When man set foot on the moon? When the space shuttle Challenger exploded?
No, nothing so historically significant as that, unless…unless you were there. Or were watching on television, as Ron Goldberg of Syosset, N.Y., was doing in his hotel room that afternoon. “When [CBS’] Verne Lundquist said, ‘Yes, sir!’ it brought the security up to the room,” Goldberg said.
Yes, sir, sports matter, too, producing their own indelible moments, and in the world of golf, perhaps none are greater than Nicklaus, Augusta, ’86.
Thirty years later, Golf Channel is providing an exceptional reason to relive one of the most remarkable ane memorable events in golf history with its documentary entitled, ’86, airing Tuesday night at 9 (EDT).
“Where were you when…? It’s the start of a question that’s reserved for the most momentous events of our lives,” Cusack says. “Where were you when you met her? Or him? Where were you when you found out you were going to be a mom? Or dad?…Where were you when you heard about something that changed the way you look at the world forever. And for a lot of us who are sports fans, where were you when you saw a game, a team or a performance you knew you’d never forget? Where were you when Jack won?”
The question permeates the hour-long documentary that takes us back to Nicklaus’ improbable victory in the ’86 Masters via the reminiscences of those we know — Nicklaus, his family members, CBS’ broadcast crew, other players — and those we don’t necessarily know.
Paul Callaway, for instance, was the PGA Tour’s director of golf fitness. After Saturday’s round, Nicklaus came in for his daily treatment, accompanied by his son and caddie Jackie. Callaway’s father was there, too, and the four of them were alone.
“After Jack’s treatment, I said, ‘Jack would you mind taking a picture with my dad?’ He said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ So Jackie took the picture.
“My dad,” Callaway said, choking up at the memory, “said that week was the favorite week of his life.”
Callaway remembers where he was when… So does Mary Lou Smith, an old woman now. The Smiths were family friends, whose young son Craig was a huge Nicklaus fan. At 11, Craig was diagnosed with an incurable cancer.
Nicklaus would routinely check in with him, and after one of his victories, Craig suggested that the reason Jack won “was because I had on my lucky yellow shirt.”
Nicklaus began reciprocating. “When Craig was very ill Jack wore a yellow shirt to say hi to Craig,” Mary Lou said. Alas, Craig died in June of 1971. Nicklaus, in homage to Craig, was wearing yellow when he won the Masters and U.S. Open in 1972.
Over time, the colors changed. But then came that Sunday morning in April of 1986. “When I got up I turned to Barbara and said, ‘Barbara, I haven’t done this for a long time. How about a yellow shirt today? I think Craig would like that.’”
Yes, sir, sports matter, too. The goosebumps that were there in ’86 are still there 30 years later. See for yourself.
“Where were you when…? It’s a question that can only be asked about a very small collection of moments,” Cusack says toward the end of the documentary. “But that’s what makes the answers so meaningful.”