The Story of my unique friendship with Bernhard Langer.
I do not personally know any famous athletes. Yes, of course, I’ve had the opportunity for the quick handshake or photoshoot at an event or book signing but that is the extent of it. There is however one exception, my friendship with Bernhard Langer, who just last week won his 46th event on the Senior Tour and recorded the most wins ever on this tour, surpassing Hale Irwin, a record many thought, including myself, would not be beaten just a few years ago. Langer is a true golf legend and one of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport. That’s Undebatable!
As a golf enthusiast and owner of ClickitGolf, I’m happy to hang around with anyone who is a single-digit handicapper, yet alone a professional golfer, whether on the PGA, LPGA, Senior Tour, Korn Ferry and now of course the LIV Tour. I love asking questions and learning about their day-to-day routines and everything associated with the game.
People always will ask me “How did you become such good friends with Langer?”. The answer is relatively simple. Bernhard and I live in the same community in South Florida. With both of us living here for decades, I would always see him on the range but never had the courage to say hello; I don’t know why, but I always figured he was preparing for an upcoming tournament and didn’t want to be “That Annoying Guy”.
One afternoon, he and I were hitting relatively close to each other on the range. I walked over and said with a smirk on my face “I heard you are a good golfer, but I would love to play you in a different sport to see who is a better athlete?’ Pretty good opening line if you ask me and his response was classic.
His comeback was “How about ping pong at my house later this afternoon?” I didn’t know if he was kidding, or if this was a sincere offer. A few minutes later, he gave me his address, cellphone # and said, “I’ll see you at 5 PM”. Although I used to play 30+ years ago in my NJ basement, I had not played in years. But, there was no way I was turning that offer down!
Like riding a bicycle, it came right back. I remember our “first date” like it was yesterday, it was on this random Friday when a mere game of ping pong started our friendship. Many years later, I now consider Bernie one of my closest friends. We played ping pong each week and during Covid, we were playing 4 to 5 days a week while he was not traveling and playing in events – we had a fun $5.00 trophy made and it would go back and forth to our houses depending on who won that day. All of a sudden, I am playing a weekly pong match with a Masters champ and arguably a GOAT in the game of golf. In his trophy case, I made sure that this plastic $5 trophy was seated right next to his 2 Master’s Trophies!
Eventually, transitioning from ping pong to playing golf with him was definitely an out-of-body experience. I’ve been fortunate to play many rounds with him since– Quite candidly, the first time we played, I was a nervous wreck (Let’s be honest – who wouldn’t be). That’s when it hit me…on the 1st tee, I literally I couldn’t hold the club – I just prayed that my tee shot went up in the air and relatively straight……. thankfully it did! We now play a dollar a hole and only once in all these years have I beaten him (of course, he is giving me a ton of shots as he plays to a plus 5 when we play – so there’s that!).
More important than his golf, Langer is a better man than he is a golfer. A true family man, very devoted to his faith, humble, and a genuine friend. I feel very fortunate to call him my friend and look forward to many years of ping pong, golf, and family time together.