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My Day at the Bear's Club D
MICHAEL BAMBERGER
November 29, 2004
The author, eager to play Jack Nicklaus's personal course, attends a high-profile fund-raiser and gets a glimpse into the private world of a very public man
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November 29, 2004

My Day At The Bear's Club D

The author, eager to play Jack Nicklaus's personal course, attends a high-profile fund-raiser and gets a glimpse into the private world of a very public man

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Lynn Buoniconti is a sprightly woman, new to golf. Like Tiger Woods at St. Andrews, she putted from 70 yards off the green and with considerable skill. Karen was a bona fide 14 handicapper and a putting and chipping machine. Joe was an eight, and I was the house duffer. Harry carried a 22 handicap and his cellphone, but he dutifully asked for our scores after every hole. All the way around, it seemed to go like this:

"Joe?"

"Five."

"Michael?"

"X."

"Karen?"

"Four net three!"

At the postround lunch--early dinner, really-- Nick Buoniconti handed out the hardware. All those four-net-threes added up to 13 under par, and our group finished third. We were each given a crystal trophy with an image of Nicklaus, at the top of his backswing, somehow suspended in the middle. I felt ridiculous accepting such a prize while standing in front of Namath, Nicklaus, Schmidt, Griese and, of course, Marc Buoniconti, still in his wheelchair, at least for now.

Our table was the last to break up, and the thing I'll remember best about that lunch was Nick Buoniconti and Griese and some other old Dolphins talking animatedly about this and that: pension funds, an unexpected win for the Dolphins, the firing of coach Ron Zook at Florida, a play from 30 years ago. "The thing about these guys," Lynn Buoniconti said to me, "they weren't playing for money. There was no money. They were playing for each other."

It was announced that the day at the Bear's Club had raised more than $600,000 for the Miami Project. Nick and Marc looked pleased, and so did Barbara. The host, the man who needed no introduction, looked the most pleased of all.

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