The Day I Met Frank

It was 1993, I was the reigning long drive champion and my first full year as a tournament player. I had made a few cuts on the Nike (Web.com) tour, so I had proven myself not to be a one trick pony. I had gotten a sponsors exemption into an event in Dayton, OH, so I picked locals in Cincinnati.

Frank Lickliter is from Franklin, a small town west of Dayton and Cinci, so it was his home town event and qualifier. He and I were scheduled to do a clinic on the next day.

I get paired with a buddy of his and we had a great time for 36 holes. Really good guy. We were first off and played really fast. It was played at two courses and we finished on the host course where the scoreboards and possibly playoff would be. I opened with 40 my first 9, then went 32 the back and 69 in round two for a respectable three under par 141.

Frank’s name had come up during the marathon and we had discussed the clinic the next day and Frank was none to happy to be sharing the tee with me.

The 16th tee comes right by the clubhouse and Frank’s buddy says, “Hey, here comes Frank, let’s go see how he’s doing.”

Now Frank has a reputation as looking and being quite surly. This was 3 years before he made the tour. Frank of 1993 Made the Tour Frank look like Hello Kitty. If someone told me Frank was a serial killer it would have been totally believable,

I walk up to Frank and said, “Hi Frank, I’m Monte, we are doing a little clinic tomorrow.”

He responds something like, “Exactly how I pictured a California fruitcake.”

I told him he didn’t look too happy. He said, “Watch this ****…”

There was a big 100 foot ditch directly in front of the tee box, but it was like a 50 yard carry. Home slice in Frank’s group tops two in a row in the ditch. Franks tells us that he shot 104 and was headed for more in round 2.

Frank was at minus 3 and needed 3 pars to tie me.

After home slice pull sliced his third attempt into the fairway…I was not real good at keeping my opinions to myself at 26 (or at 46 for that mater but I was worse).

“What the **** are you doing? There are people out here who have a legitimate chance of getting in the US Open, you are playing with one of them and you are getting in the way. Just go to your car. It looks like Frank is about to take your life and he might get off.”

The guy then goes into a song and dance about how three weeks earlier he had holed out 3 times, shot 69 and had 4 spotted into the Greensboro Open.

Frank says…”I have been listening to that story for 8 ******* hours, you are a lying sack of ****…”

So Frank pars the last three and ties me at 141. As the scores come in it looks like the number will be 141 or 142. I was having a great time, telling stories, laughing, telling jokes. Frank’s buddy was talking about all of the huge drives I had hit and then I was making jokes about all the great par saves I had from the middle of the fairway, 50 yards from the green. He then told a story about how I drove the first green (where a playoff would be), almost made a 1 and missed a 15 footer for a 2.

This went on for about an hour. Finally I look at Frank, who hadn’t said a word or changed facial expression and said, “Frank, relax, have some fun, we’re in.”

He responds, “You’re just happy because if we have to playoff, you can drive the first ******* green.”

There must have been 50-60 people sitting around and they just burst into tears laughing so hard as most were locals familiar with Frank and they couldn’t believe I was talking to him that way.

We ended up making it and the next day all of Dayton/Cincinnati showed up to watch the long drive champion and the local hero put on a show.

The tournament director foolishly put me on first. I was hitting 350 yard drives with steel and balata, trick shots off my knees, divots, spitting balls out of my mouth and hitting them out of the air, playing to the crowd, yucking it up…etc.

The the director turns to Frank and says, “Now Frank is going to show us how to hit a wedge.”

Frank says, “I am not following that ****…”

I said (while still having the mic), “Come on Frank, show the nice folks how to do something I can’t.”

He walks to his bag, grabs a wedge, barely lines up and rocks it off a flag about 100 yards out.

The crowd went berserk.

We’ve been friends ever since.

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1 Comment

  1. Rick

    I’m sure Frank is a great guy. A fierce competitor just trying to protect his own turf and ego. How else do you achieve the elite status and rare air of a PGA Tour card and playing privileges? I admire that accomplishment. Unfortunately he sounds like a man in prison of his own making and frustrated that he cannot answer the question of “I know I am as good as anyone teeing the ball up on Thursday, driving a sponsors car, enjoying milk shakes at the turn, having others carrying my tools on beautifully manicured parks…..so why can’t I compete at a level that allows me to stay though the weekend? Why can’t I put myself in position to win?” Maybe not, if the sponsors money is good enough to live the life he is accustomed, and can wait it out for six more years to get on the Champions Tour, he may be content. Your story reflects more a man Thoreau referenced, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” My experience with the guys I know that compete at Frank’s level is they all want to compete to win. Yes, even backup QB’s are chomping to play regardless of how much they make. It sounds sad that he doesn’t appear to be able to freely use the gifts he has been given and I’m sure worked very hard to perfect. Let him come spend a week with me and experience how many are facing the challenges of real life and he will return to his trade with a humble appreciation and renewed passion to pursue his game. No discussion of sports psychology, alignment, spine tilt, release point, course management, or endorsement opportunities, just matters of the heart where the real issues of life flow from. My best regards to Frank as he works hard to support his family and glad to hear he has you as a real friend. Sounds like he really needs one.

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