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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Final Four And Whole Lots More

My wife Linda and our son MJ, National Special Olympics Golf Champion and Hall of Famer, recently traveled to Houston to attend the "Final Four" National Basketball Championship at NRG Reliant Stadium. 

We were hoping our alma mater Michigan State would also be playing. 
Unfortunately the Spartans were eliminated in round one of this exciting tournament also known as "March Madness." The good news is that long time MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo was honored for his success as one of the 2016 Hall of Fame inductees. 
This event is different from a Super Bowl as there are many young college students watching their teams play rather than just corporate types attending a game for the first time all year. Having done both, this creates a more pure and wholesome environment and experience.

The final four teams this year were Villanova, Oklahoma, Syracuse and North Carolina. After exciting battles in front of 75,000 avid basketball fans, we watched  Villanova  crowned as the 2016 National Champions with a dramatic buzzer beating shot by Nova's Kris Jenkins to win 77-74. North Carolina had tied the game at 74 with 4 seconds to play before the calm poised, well coached Nova team executed this perfect game winning shot.

Long time basketball announcer Dick Vitale said  " This was the best National Championship final game I have ever witnessed and maybe the best in NCAA history."

This was my second experience at a final four and is a "must do" if you love sports and the spirit of young athletes trying to achieve the difficult goal of being a National Champion.  The pure excitement is addicting as loyal fans wildly cheer for their respective schools. In addition, having been to many major sporting events, it is great to see 75,000 fans behave with respect and root for their teams with class rather than with alcohol infused shouting and  fighting.

The NCAA does not allow alcohol to be served at this event and in my opinion contributes to a fan experience that is peaceful, dignified and more like a serene Augusta Masters Golf tournament experience. 

Houston was also hosting the Shell Open PGA Golf tournament bringing many big name golfers to play golf and also watch the basketball games.

We also had the pleasure to play the famous Houston Tour 18 golf course. General Manager Darren Busker heads a gracious staff that enhances this special golfing experience. This course has 18 famous golf holes played on the PGA Tour highlighted by Augusta's Amen corner and the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

Linda totally enjoyed the experience and found the ladies tees to be very fair and friendly. Having been to Augusta and the Masters twice, our favorite golf hole is number 12.  It is a short par 3 surrounded by beautiful multi colored flowers reminding one of a painting by Monet. It is also intimidating and historic flanked by the famous Hogan bridge that many famous feet have  proudly walked over. My memory bank will be eternally blessed as I rolled in a 12 foot putt for a birdie on this world famous hole.

When we played number 17 at TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville, MJ birdied the hole and offered some friendly advice for his mom at Tour 18. "Don't be short Mom,  a lot of people go in the water."

As a matter of fact the starter Cecil told us that 275,000 balls find their watery grave every year on this intimidating short par three hole at TPC Sawgrass. 

MJ's noble advice almost worked as Linda's ball landed just short of the island green and mine hit on the green but bounced left into the water too. Our nephew Troy Sanchez hit his best shot of the day and proudly landed on the green.

Tour 18 is a fun golf course and a great and affordable way to experience 18 of Americas Golf Holes. if you are ever in the Houston area, we would highly recommend this unique golfing experience.

For more information and to make a tee time, go to:www.tour18golf.com