Occasionally when I read a news story or report, the main point or most newsy item is not what jumps out at me.
Such was the case when I was reading the local media reports about an ethics complaint filed by a Brainerd Hills neighbor against City Council member Carol Berz. It was related to an amendment to a noise ordinance, with the new measure focusing on surrounding neighborhoods of Chattanooga like Brainerd Hills.
It had come after Ms. Berz and her husband, Charles Dupree, had gone over to a house next door while a loud 21st birthday party was taking place in 2020. The home also was the scene of later noisy happenings, reports say, and Council member Berz was involved in a noise ordinance to combat such noise around Chattanooga.
While it turned out the ethics complaint against Councilwoman Berz was dismissed by the Council, the complainer, Olivia Tawzer, wrote via email message to the city beforehand that she felt they were being intruded on by Berz and her husband as the couple investigated the 2020 noise issue. It was part of her larger point of saying Ms. Berz was later using her past experiences in helping support the ordinance amendment and should have disclosed the ongoing conflict.
But it was not just sounds and noise, but also sights that were referenced in the well-circulated news report in the Times Free Press and possibly elsewhere. That came after the complainer wrote to the city of the party that sparked the noise, saying, “My friends and I were in a hot tub, some of us topless.”
Speaking of going natural, the Red Wolves local pro soccer team announced they would be switching to natural grass from an artificial playing surface at CHI Memorial Stadium by Ringgold Road and Interstate 75. It is being done as part of a stadium expansion and in part due to the fact high-profile visiting European teams and others prefer grass.
I am excited to see that, as I much prefer grass, even though I realize artificial surfaces on some fields are easier to maintain with schools or school systems having to mow or hire mowers. I also understand that artificial surfaces are easier to keep up when multiple sports are being played on them over time.
I am thankful many local public high schools still have natural fields, as it just seems much more in natural harmony with the world and is much more physically attractive to me. It is like having a real plant in your home instead of a silk one or one made of plastic, even though you cannot tell for sure on TV if a playing surface is natural grass.
And while I actually know one or two people who do honest work or have worked in the synthetic playing field industry, I also wish my alma mater of Baylor School still had natural grass at Heywood Stadium/Red Etter Field.
One place that would hopefully never go artificial is a regular golf course. As golf fans know, the PGA Championship took place at historic Oak Hill Country Club in the suburbs of Rochester, N.Y., through this past Sunday, with Brooks Koepka from the controversial and Saudi-related LIV Tour winning his fifth major championship.
Despite the Oak Hill Club’s far distance away and the fact my golf game has gotten quite rusty from my days of once being able to shoot in the mid-70s regularly as a teenager, I had actually purchased several months ago a ticket for the Thursday opening round this year.
I had also attended the PGA Championship last year at Southern Hills Country Club in also-faraway Tulsa, Ok., and enjoyed it. I had stayed coming and going with an old friend in Memphis and visited places like the University of Arkansas and Branson, Mo., along the way.
The original idea had come up in part because of my frustrations at never being chosen for even a Masters practice round ticket or the women’s amateur event at Augusta National. As a result, I jumped at the chance to be able to order a ticket to a major tournament without going through a lottery.
And when the opportunity to order a ticket arose to this year’s PGA in New York via email, I jumped at the chance again. I would worry about the logistics and seeing if it was OK with my wife, Laura, later.
And as the time drew nearer this spring to make plans to go, I began dreaming of visiting the historic Oak Hill Country Club designed by Donald Ross, who had also been an early designer of Chattanooga Golf and Country Club and Brainerd locally. I also imagined standing outside and admiring the club’s beautiful and large 1920s-era, Tudor-style clubhouse, which was somewhat like the Chattanooga Country Club’s clubhouse, particularly when I worked there in college and afterward before its late 1980s’ remodeling and modernizing.
I also wanted to revisit where I remember seeing Jack Nicklaus on TV receive a stirring ovation after winning the PGA there in 1980, when many knew he was in his waning days near the top at age 40.
The only problem with going was that it was more than a 12-hour drive away, and plane tickets almost doubled to nearly $1,000 by the time I first began looking a couple of months ago until a week or so before the start, when I was still holding out minor hope of going. And with my wife not interested in going, I also envisioned taking a cheaper whirlwind automobile trip there and staying somewhere like Northeast Ohio for a couple of nights coming and going. I was also going to rent a car to save wear on my Honda Accord.
But all that would have cost a few hundred dollars of luxury spending money not really available in our bank account, so I reluctantly decided not to go. As a result, earlier last week, I put my nearly $200 Thursday ticket complete with unlimited concessions on the online PGA ticket exchange, thinking it would quickly sell just like SEC football tickets do. After all, this was a major championship, I thought to myself.
Guess what? The ticket never did sell among many other unclaimed ones, so I learned a hard lesson that you better plan to go if you order a ticket in most cases.
But I enjoyed watching at least a little of it on TV. While I did not see the old clubhouse shown much, some of the other storylines were interesting, like public club and teaching pro Michael Block from California finishing in an inspiring tie for 15th and making a hole in one on No. 15 on the last day.
I am hoping to find somewhere else to go this summer that Laura and I can both agree on, and I am already in line to be notified of early ordering opportunities for next year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club by Louisville, Ky., only a five-hour drive away.
And to appease my disappointment, I did also last week order a couple of tickets to a rare weekday afternoon Atlanta Braves’ game in late June. The tickets unfortunately do not come with unlimited concessions, but it should still be quite fun!
And speaking of baseball, I went over to watch my alma mater of Baylor play Knoxville Catholic in baseball last Wednesday night, thinking the Red Raiders would easily reach this week’s state tournament/final four with a Division II region championship and great regular season.
Well, it turned out Catholic had other plans. Despite being easily swept by Baylor in the regular season, Catholic was very determined and beat Baylor in both games to win the two-out-of-three series and advance, while Baylor will be staying at home.
Since I also still write for the Shopper News community publication connected to the News Sentinel in Knoxville and cover the area of town where Catholic is, I decided to do a feature story on the Catholic season and memorable day for them. I had brought my small recorder and went over to interview coach Caleb Moore, a former minor league player, after the game.
I also saw Notre Dame High alumnus and Catholic principal Dickie Sompayrac, whom I knew from living in Knoxville for 12 years. I soon learned that his son, Ben, had not only driven in the winning run in the second game, but he also was the winning pitcher in the first game before I arrived.
Ben, by the way, is the grandson of the late Hamilton County Commissioner Howard Sompayrac and longtime former Times Free Press sports writer/editor Ward Gossett.
So, at least a few extended members of the Sompayrac family and the other Catholic parents and others were happy amid the disappointed Baylor faithful after the game. Let’s just hope they did not break any new noise ordinance rules in celebrating!
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