After his round of golf at that cathedral of golf known as Pebble Beach Golf Links, Jackson Lindquist was asked if his group had taken any pictures.
“We did,” he said, “probably more than the people behind us would have liked.”
But who could blame the group, which in addition to Lindquist included his dad, Eric, his close friend Tyler Reiland and Reiland’s dad, Dan, who all live in Eau Claire. The chance to play golf at Pebble Beach was arranged by the Round of a Lifetime Foundation, and it came with instructions to savor every moment.
And, so, they did.
“It was pretty dang exciting,” Jackson said the day after the round. “Pebble – you’re familiar with it from TV but some of the holes are so spectacular…really, truly unbelievable.”
The story of how Jackson won the trip to Pebble Beach is rather remarkable as well.
Now 19, he was born with a congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot with absent pulmonary valve. His first open-heart surgery was performed when he was four months old, with other open-heart procedures at ages 2 and 9.
At 15, he underwent another surgery, that one a minimally invasive procedure to give him a new pulmonary valve, and there may be one additional surgery in the future as he fully grows into his adult body.
All of which made Jackson a pretty likely candidate to apply for the trip, the third awarded by the Round of a Lifetime Foundation. The organization was formed in 2010 by friends and family of Andrew Maciey of Philadelphia, who had died of heart disease at the age of 24.
Maciey had loved golf, and his family and friends decided that providing opportunities for a special round of golf for others with congenital heart disease would most appropriately honor his memory. It was, said Joe Maciey, Andrew’s cousin and president of Round of a Lifetime, a way of “giving a little bit of Andrew, and a lot of hope, to individuals and families across the country.”
Jackson heard about the opportunity from a pediatric cardiologist at Mayo Clinic who was aware of his medical history and his love of golf.
“I don’t remember when I haven’t played golf,” said Jackson, who said his first clubs were plastic models when he was just 3 years old. When he was 9, he played golf with his dad to relax the day before his third open-heart surgery at Mayo Clinic, and he played again just two days after his fourth surgery at age 15.
Returning quickly to the sport he loved “helped me believe everything was going to be OK,” he said.
As part of the competition for the trip, Jackson had to prepare an essay and undergo interviews with foundation officials. When he learned he was selected, he was offered a choice of three courses for his round of a lifetime – Pebble Beach, Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina or, if he didn’t want to travel so far, Whistling Straits Golf Resort outside of Kohler. Pebble Beach was an easy choice.
“We kind of knew that right off the bat,” Jackson said. “I’d never been to California.”
Filling his foursome was easy as well. The Lindquists and the Reilands play together often, and Jackson and Tyler were friends in high school -- Jackson played tennis, Tyler played golf. The package included airfare for four, a couple of nights in San Francisco, two nights at the Inn at Spanish Bay on the Monterey Peninsula, golf at Pebble Beach and spending money, some of which they spent on golf at nearby Pacific Grove GL, an affordable oceanfront course known as “the poor man’s Pebble Beach.”
At the real Pebble Beach, they had an afternoon tee time and the weather cooperated, something not always assured on the famed oceanside links.
“I’ve never been there to experience it in person (except for) playing it in video games,” Jackson said. “It was pretty awesome to see all those views.”
His score was not quite what he would have wanted, he said, owing mostly to so many killer bunkers with high faces that put sand wedge in his hand entirely too often. While the greens were not lightning fast as they had expected, Eric Lindquist said, “there are so many sand traps on that course and they’re all strategically placed…and Jackson found a lot of them.”
But so what? It was golf at Pebble Beach, the round of a lifetime for someone who has overcome a lot more serious obstacles than the deep bunkers that bedeviled his round. He may yet have to undergo another surgery but, as he said several times in an interview, “I’m pretty fortunate with what I’ve had.”
And he and his father are oh, so grateful to the foundation for its work on behalf of a young man who loved golf but lost his own battle with a heart defect. Maciey’s family and friends thought it a wonderful way to honor his memory, and the Lindquists couldn’t agree more.
For more information on the Round of a Lifetime program, visit www.roundofalifetime.com.