When old golfers get together there are always stories to share, and some are even true. But over the weekend, when Sonny Ellis and Arnold Blum were reunited, there was more to talk about than birdies and backswings.
Ellis learned the game at The Country Club of Columbus, and Saturday, at the age of 88, he was inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame -- a group that welcomed Blum in 1989.
They competed as amateurs when being an amateur was the honorable way to play. They were rivals in the Southeastern Conference, with Blum winning the 1941 SEC title for Georgia around the time Ellis was an All-American at LSU. Over the years, they collected enough silver and gold to start a pawnshop.
Blum is 90, and it took more than golf for him to make the trip from Macon to the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Forget the sports pages. Check the society pages in 1948.
That was the year Ellis married Marion and the year Arnold married Georgann. The two golfers were the best man in each other's weddings.
"That made Saturday special for all of us," said Mike Waldron of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. "Arnold hadn't been with us in a long time, and he was there because of Sonny."
John B. "Sonny" Ellis, a protégé of legendary teacher Fred Haskins, is the 12th Columbus golfer to join the 94 members in the statewide group.
Haskins, the late Country Club of Columbus pro, was inducted in 1992, preceded by Hugh Royer Jr. (1990) and Larry Mize (1991). Other local representatives are Gunby Jordan (1994), Billy Key (1995), Bill Zimmerman (1996), Jack Key Jr. (1997), Bill Ploeger (2001), Charlie Harper (2005), George Hamer Jr. (2006), and Richard Crawford (2012).
Ellis moved to Atlanta years ago, but his love of golf began here where he was a member of the Columbus High golf team.
He was a machine mate in the Navy, but that did not keep him out of an Army tournament when he was home on leave in 1944.
Ellis won, and his father took him by the Columbus Enquirer.
The sports editor was also a Navy man. Jesse Helms was a Navy recruiter who moonlighted as a newspaperman. Historians will note that Helms went on to a memorable career as a United States senator from the great state of North Carolina.
Helms wrote that 19 months in Trinidad did not dull Ellis' game: "Ask the embarrassed Fort Benning matchmakers who invited Slamming Sonny to participate in a post golf tournament. Sonny won that tourney, much to the chagrin of the Army, because the odds are sort of against a sailor coming out on top around an Army post."
Nearly 70 years later, he's still on top.
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.