Every once in a while a story comes along that surprises you. Ceil Maclaurin was one of those stories. I bumped into Doug Weathers at Savannah State at the end of June and he told me I should look up this great Savannah golfer Ceil Maclaurin. Having only been in the city 3 years I had never heard of her but figured if Doug brought her to my attention she must be pretty good. I went back to the station and asked Rick who said pretty much the same thing. Two phone calls later I was on the phone with her and set up our interview.
Up to this point all I knew about her is she was 80 years old and won a few tournaments. I say a few because that is all anyone said. The next day I made my way out to her place thinking I would meet someone who had a good run a few years back. Boy was I in for a surprise. When I arrived at her house Ceil and her husband greeted me at the door and we talked for a good while about sports and all kinds of things.
While talking I noticed the decorations on the coffee table, the little statues by the fire place and the things in the cabinet. I can't tell you when it hit me but it wasn't long before I realized these weren't just trinkets. They were all trophies from various tournaments and they were all over the place. Not second place trophies either, these were of the gold, first place variety. About then I realized everyone had greatly understated her accomplishments. It felt like taking the tour at Cape Canaveral only to realize halfway through the man giving the tour was Neil Armstrong.
As we sat out back by her pool she walked me through her life story. What I found interesting was they way she did it. It was very nonchalant. No boasting involved, almost an after thought. We are talking about someone who won over 70 tournaments. Think about it. 75 times she was the top player in the field. The way she described it came off like she just went out playing and had a good time. No big deal. But that is just the way she is. It was refreshing to meet an athlete like that. I've met more than a few who haven't accomplished a tenth of what she had but to hear them tell it they were all world and go on and on. Ceil has every right to stand up and brag until she goes hoarse but instead she stayed humble and just smiled when I pressed her about being so dominant.
When we were finished I thanked her for the time and figured that was the end of it. I had pictures and some press clippings, more than enough to do what I needed but it was not over. Just before I was about to leave she invited me out to the Savannah Club to watch her play. I am sure I made her nervous but it did not show. With her 3 playing partners by her side I followed her for 9 holes. I watched her get up and down better than most of the people I play with now and they are less than half her age.
She was all smiles and fun, right up until she started sizing up a shot. That was when you could see her demeanor change. The smile left her face. Her eyes became fixed on the pin and it was at that moment I saw the person that closed out so many tournaments. She followed through with the same form that won so many times before and right after, she was back to same smiling lady she was before.
Ceil Maclaurin, there will never be another one like her.