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By MICK HOLIEN

There is just not anything like Sunday at Augusta … the usual packed gallery …the pomp and circumstance on a beautiful Georgia day,

But a huge part of the Masters tradition was lacking this year because of the first-time absence of one of the sport’s mainstays.

With no deference to Gary Player, who joined ageless Jack Nicklaus for the traditional tee-off but it marks the first time since 1955 that Arnold Palmer and his congenial smile was noticeably not present.

Player hit his tee shot a little shorter than the 77-year-old Golden Bear who tipped his hat to the skies in recognition of his old friend who died last year at the age of 87.

Admittedly I have unfortunately never been to the Masters and confess I wouldn’t be able to describe the difference between a five iron from a three or a seven.

There is a difference right?

A half dozen years ago though I stood outside waiting anxiously for Palmer to arrive at the awards dinner for the National Sportswriters and sports broadcasters association in Salisbury, N.C.   

While representatives from most states were in attendance it was a social affair but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to catch a few comments with the golfing icon.

He graciously stopped before entering and was kind enough to give me and my pal Gwen a few minutes but took the opportunity to reach around her waist to her backside where I would say he just gave her a little palm nudge.

He was in his eighties.

Please don’t be offended but if you knew Gwen, who has since lost her long battle with cancer, it wouldn’t surprise you to know rather than being upset she smiled and reciprocated.

As a dinner guest Palmer was seated with Jim Nantz, who was again being honored as National Sportscaster of the Year.

Since I have attended a few of these banquets since first winning the state award in 1988 I have come to know the cordial Nantz, who himself is easily approachable.

Later as dinner was approaching I noticed Palmer get up and walk across the entire venue approaching another table where I noticed another familiar face.

Nudging Gwen to get her camera ready here comes Arnie to embrace Furman Bisher, the iconic renowned former sportswriter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Palmer was well into his eighties and Bisher in his 90s and to me it represented a rare occurrence when a superior athlete pays homage to a media member who simply like Palmer was the best in his profession and whose eloquent words were respected as much as was Palmer’s golf game.

It was a touching moment and was my headline for the three-day event.

Several weeks later came an email from Nantz at CBS Sports calling my description of that moment in a Flathead Beacon column one of the finest he had ever read while capturing an “important moment” in his life.

Surprised I was thankful that I recognized what was happening.

Arnie signed a baseball for me that night and while I had no real reason to his absence and the presence of his widow made me appreciate even more fully than usual how it isn’t always all about what happens between the lines)

Just sayin’





Remembering Charlie

By Mick Holien

Charlie James made his mark on this earth long before publication of Sweetheart Magazine.

But the singles publication that long preceded the current horde to tease romantic or even platonic arrangements was the cherry atop his well lived life that touched so many.

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Early Halloween

By Mick Holien

A plethora of some of the usual Missoula historical characters spun life’s yarns on Sunday as grave sites at the Cemetery sprung to life for a few hours.

The annual Stories and Stones was advanced from near Halloween a few weeks both for the benefit of attendees and actors and weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.

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Precursor to Big Sky Play

By Mick Holien

If stats mean anything the Grizzlies ought to enjoy bringing Savannah State and what has been a porous defense to Washington grizzly stadium.

In losing games initially to Georgia, then up the hill in Boone, N.C. against Appalachian State, the Tiger defense has been anything but efficient.

And last Saturday they surrendered three touchdowns in four plays in the span of five minutes.

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Just Do It

By Mick Holien

It’s one o those things that some families have quite a difficulty dealing with but as we all age it is the most important thing we can do for our heirs.

Maybe like you, I put off formulating a will until recently and even several times took on-line forms and made out my own.

But after hearing stories from others I realized it just wasn’t fair to my family not to have this important item taken care of, just in case you know.

Besides a will your attorney more than likely will advise power of attorney and wishes of what to do medically in the possibility that you can’t make that decision on your own.

It isn’t that expensive (500 or so) and can be completed in a short period and distributed like to your Doc, the hospital, your heirs and of course the copy the lawyer keeps on file.

But it is one of those items I observe we procrastinate about.

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A Last Lake Trip?

By Mick Holien

Are you like me and hoping for even one additional day in the boat on Flathead Lake or have you settled into the opening of fall sports seasons and content to chalk up the summer to one of those rare smoke seasons that left the vessel moored and you and the family itching for some barbecue and maybe even a river day.

From my vantage point south of town yet looking out at the west side of Finley Point, the lake sometimes appears for just a period then is shrouded with drifting smoke only to clear later through the narrows and beyond.

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9-11

By Mick Holien

On this day 16 years ago, a day after of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the flight probably headed for Washington D.C., many Grizzly fans were stranded after arriving at various airports after attending the football game on Maui.

After losing to Hawaii, the team flew non-stop charter overnight but most fans, except for a few that accompanied the team, were left to catch later flights, some even in the air when the planes hit, others hooking up with connecting flights which of course was impossible.

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Why Not Play in Missoula

By Mick Holien

It getting more difficult as the year goes by to find non-conference football opponents at the Football Championship Series (FCS) level.

Several traditional opponents over the year, even most recently Liberty who picked off Baylor the opening weekend, have moved or are in the process of moving to the Football Bowl Series.

Of course it’s all about the money because not only does a program enhance their chances to eventually qualify for a bowl themselves nit they also stand to share in the league’s bowl proceeds and when your circuit is qualifying several teams that amounts to a considerable amount of coin compared to the FCS level.

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Washington

By Mick Holien

You have to hand it to offensive guru Chris Peterson, the former Boise State mentor who took the Broncos to national prominence and made the argument they had to be included in the Top 25 poll, something voters in the east weren’t easily willing to allow.

There are those coaches who, no matter where they hang their hat, seem to have the formula or maybe surround themselves with the right brilliant people to have success wherever they coach.

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A Must See

By MICK HOLIEN

I went to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. back in my tournament bowling days but unfortunately that was before the construction of the Viet Nam wall.

And while I feel compelled to leave such a trip near the top of my bucket list, as the years go by it becomes unlikely that is something I will be able to accomplish.

But the next best thing is time spent at the Wall that Heals, a half-sized replica of the real thing that visits Kalispell starting Thursday

I can tell you such a visit is highly therapeutic whether or not you are a veteran or served in that God forsaken war.

266 Montanans were among the 58,267 who lost their loves in Nam, each one honored by a single line on the 250-foot structure.

A flyover at 9:55 a.m. will open the exhibit which comes to Kalispell today from Libby and will remain open, along with a mobile education center, until Sept.10.

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Smoke Gets in your Eyes

By MICK HOLIEN

I resisted writing about it since I’m not much for negativity or complaining especially about things I can do nothing about.

If you ask me how I’m doing, you’re usually going t5o get an optimistic, positive response.

But damn this smoke.

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All Starkel

By MICK HOLIEN

The Starkel family of Ronan had more than a passing interest to wait through a horde of college football games Saturday awaiting the key Los Angeles matchup between UCLA and Texas A & M.

You see the young starting quarterback for the Aggies also bears the Starkel moniker, Nick is the son of Maury, a Starkel who isn’t a potato farmer.

And as the “instant classic” game wound down with Starkel sidelined with a third quarter foot injury all one could think is what might have been or will be for that matter.

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Laboring Away

BY MICK HOLIEN

The Fashion Police would have been pleased in Missoula Saturday as not only did University of Montana athletic promotions folks encourage fans to participate in a rite of fall by wearing all white but the Grizzlies also debuted new all-white road unis.

And after a less than stellar first half Montana got the season’s train rollin’ and posted a workman’s-like second half hour to pull away from outmanned Valpariaso 45-23.

So with the ranked Huskies of Washington waiting in the Emerald City Saturday’s ending score appeared about as predicted but the Indiana squad, eventually probably affected by heat and depth, gave no quarter and looked anything but a bottom rung Pioneer League outfit.

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Now is the Time

By Mick Holien

All the anticipation of losing thoughts of a rare losing football season is plenty of motivation for a Grizzly team that looks to dominate a cupcake opener at Washington Grizzly Stadium Saturday.

But while the starting quarterback call goes to a senior who once was highly touted out of the state of Tennessee Reese Phillips is a guy who threw four picks in the spring scrimmage while connecting on 14 of 27 for 140 yards and hasn’t started under center in almost five years.

2014.

But for the time being the Kentucky transfer emerged in a battle with Caleb Hill and freshman Gresch Jensen.

Obviously Phillips is the only QB who has taken a Montana snap playing in four games last season with a season high five completions against Mississippi Valley State.

But if he maintains there are no butterflies we know he is sharing the company line. Last year’s experience and scrimmages are nothing like being the guy at the helm but admittedly the bar will be lower than in some seasons.

Maybe as good a baseball player as a gridiron product, Phillips prepped in Chattanooga where he was a two-time all state performer in both sports.

But after winning the state football title as a junior and making the playoffs as a senior when he completed 172 of 274 for 2,274 yards he enjoyed quite a post season being named MVP after hitting 10 for 10 passes in the state’s All-Star game leading his team to a 41-20 verdict.

A converted tight end and defensive back, he was an all-district baseball player as a pitcher and shortstop.

But after redshirting at Kentucky he was relegated to a backup role and although he played in three games as a redshirt freshman he played in just a single game in 2015.

Phillips has a single season of eligibility remaining.

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Houston

By MICK HOLIEN

How can we not be emotionally affected by the images coming out of the Houston area?

One had to know it would be just a matter of time before predictions were accurate that a monster storm, long predicted, would strike land with such force but then the ensuing rainfall that beckons one to think of 40 days and 50 nights.

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One Satisfied Customer

By MICK HOLIEN

No matter what the dilemma there is always a way to make things right or at the very least improve a poor situation.

And how a scenario is dealt with often determines whether that customer continues to do business with you.

It always is surprising and quite frankly disappointing to see how much a business spend to acquire a customer only to have a poor experience with an actually well meaning employee prompting the loss of business.

But there are better ways to make of poor judgment.

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Worth The Savings

By MICK HOLIEN

The first of a couple recent interesting encounters I have to share with you to kick off the traditional opening of the college football season.

Both worked to my advantage but not without some head shaking on my part about a sometimes pure lack of common sense but being persistent and polite yet extra inquisitive paid dividends.

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Pete To Repeat

By Mick Holien

It bears repeating or does it? Who do you know that often seems compelled to repeat themselves?

Make up your own mind but my favorite is on CNN and you will recognize him without me writing his name.

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A Miracle

By Mick Holien

Stop me if you’ve heard this but I had a reason why I chose to move to Polson some dozen years ago.

The people are different I often have said much like they were when I relocated to Missoula and from Spokane in the eighties.

But my pal Emma Lommasson, at 105-plus, said what happened to me Friday night just was a miracle – pure and simple – so you decide especially given the circumstances.

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am I eligible?

By Mick Holien

 

It can’t happen to anyone no matter how well you believe you are versed in the NCAA rules determining eligibility.

And while every time I learn of such indiscretions, I remember how close I came to bringing down the same wrath on this broadcaster and the first 7 footer to play at the University of Montana.

Fortunately we got around it.

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It was a close call

By Mick Holien

It can’t happen to anyone no matter how well you believe you are versed in the NCAA rules determining eligibility.

And while every time I learn of such indiscretions, I remember how close I came to bringing down the same wrath on this broadcaster and the first 7 footer to play at the University of Montana.

Fortunately we got around it.

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