A Day on the Golf Course with Grayson Greiner


The Sarge is in Charge:

I remember going to Gamecock baseball games well before Founder’s was built. For me, those warm spring evenings at Sarge brings back as many good memories as the cool autumn nights at Williams-Brice do.

Things were simpler then. I was a kid that craved the freedom and autonomy of adulthood without fully understanding the pressing weight of responsibility that came with it. I had no clue what being older meant, nor did I care. I, like most kids, just wanted to grow-up too fast. It’s funny to think back to how ready and willing I was to trade the joys of childhood for the never-ending sting of bills, taxes, traffic, and work. If only I had appreciated the gift of youth more; if only I had valued the time spent with family– those are things you can never get back.

Despite wanting to skip ahead in life in every other aspect, when it came to enjoying 9-innings of Gamecock baseball, I always let me inner child out to play (and I still do).

I love Founder’s Park— I think we all do. But Sarge… boy oh boy, Sarge is where it all started for so many of us. We learned to love Gamecock Baseball there. It’s a place where, despite the varied outcome of a game, we all treasured the time spent and will forever hold valuable memories from those stands that will never leave us.

When Founder’s opened, there were mixed emotions. I’m sure many, like myself, miss Sarge Frye to this day, but it’s hard to be disappointed for too long with a ballpark like Founder’s. I haven’t been to every SEC park, but I can’t imagine many being better than what we have right along the river here. It’s a little Carolina slice of heaven, and although it will never replace those early days of sitting out at Sarge with my glove in hand, trying to catch a foul ball as a child, the memories that Founder’s established forever changed me, the program, and the fanbase.

Tanner’s Boys

Outside of maybe, Coach Staley’s WBB program, Back-to-Back Championships will likely never be repeated in any sport at USC. That accomplishment, and how truly difficult it was to achieve, is something that even the most devoted fans take for granted. Coach Tanner and his boys did the impossible TWICE and almost made it happen a 3rd time, setting a standard in the process for USC Baseball that other great rosters have struggled to live up to.

Because of those 3 special seasons (I’m including the runner-up season as well), the magic of Founder’s Park was cemented into the souls of those who witnessed it. The physical air of excitement it holds is still something I can feel each time I’m there. The spirit of what happened there and the electricity of the place will never cease, not while those of us who were present back then are still kicking, and sure as hell not while the name “Tanner” is still printed on the outfield wall.

I remember watching those teams like it was yesterday. Those guys were living legends– the talk of the town. Players like Walker, JBJ, Wingo, Roth, Price, and Montogmery, absolutely dominated competition and were household names in Columbia (and they still are). They were special, because they gave us a product to be proud of, and a reason to ask, “Why not South Carolina? If baseball can do it, why not football or basketball?

I had my own favorite players in that era. I was a big-time Kyle Martin fan. That dude could smack em’ and always found a way to get a timely hit. I loved Joey Pankake, although I admit, I quickly grew tired of hearing about his home run on National Pancake day a million times every broadcast– like geez, find a new story, we get it. I also enjoyed pulling for the pitching greats like Michael Roth, and the legendary out-fielders like Jackie Bradley Jr. who made the plays that took us straight to Omaha. But despite how much I liked watching those guys play, number 21 was my all-time-favorite.

I still remember where I was standing when Grayson hit the Grand-Slam against Clemson— I lost my voice screaming and honestly, I don’t think it has ever fully come back. That moment was magic. I was watching it with some Clemson fans of all people, and seeing their faces flood with worry as soon as the ball left the bat was priceless.

I also remember one special moment that still gives me cold chills when I rewatch it. If you speak to any Gamecock fan and ask them to tell you about Grayson Greiner’s biggest play, without hesitation they will say, “The Walk-off grand-slam against Tennessee,” and I wholeheartedly agree, it was Grayson at his best. The play was unreal, and eventually ended up as the number one play on Sports Center thanks in part to the situation that set it up.

As Grayson came to the plate, The nervous energy of the crowd was so intense that you could physically feel it. Some Gamecock fans were even heading to the exits, leaving before the final bell– thinking all hope was lost. Any mere mortal would have buckled under the pressure of being down and having the game on the line with the bases loaded– but Grayson is not a mere mortal, he somehow managed to become bigger than the moment itself and knocked the absolute shit out of that ball.

We asked him about that moment on Saturday, and he shared that he didn’t feel nervous at all. He wanted to be in that position. He wanted to be the guy to go up to bat with the weight of the world on his shoulders. That, to me, is the “Michael Jordan Mentality” that separates good players from GREAT players. And it is a major reason that Grayson was so successful during his time at Carolina.

When he was drafted and took his talents to Detroit, I, for the first time in my life, bought a shirt that said “Tigers” on it— and in all honesty, I donated it to Goodwill as soon as he moved teams (sorry, Detroit fans, just can’t keep Tiger stuff in my house).

I followed his career in the majors with pride, knowing that he was a home town kid, making Carolina proud. The sentiment of overwhelming support for Grayson is not something isolated to me. Greiner is beloved by everyone who cares about Gamecock Baseball, the city of Columbia, and the University of South Carolina. He’s a legitimate icon around here, so when I got a chance to play golf with him this past weekend, I knew it would be one of those days I’d never forget.

Grayson’s Early Support Made a Huge Impact on GBS

I’ve known Grayson personally for a while. When I launched GBS in early 2022, he interacted with our Twitter account, and showed early support. This was before the merchandise, before the events, and before the large number of social media followers. Back then, we may have had 200 or so folks following us, and any notion of what GBS might one day become was still just a distant dream in my head.

Grayson’s support at that stage, before we really were considered legitimate by anyone, not only suggested that maybe this group could be successful, but it also helped put us on the map.

During those early messages, Grayson shared kind words with the group, talked about some different bourbons he enjoyed, and even mailed me an autographed bat so that I could give it away to our followers on Twitter. This was wild to me. The guy my dad and I spent our time watching dominate at Founder’s Park was sending me a bat to support this random group I wanted to create… I had to pinch myself.

From there, GBS blew up and momentum started rolling that still hasn’t stopped. We found our purpose, defined our plan, and made some great strides toward making people in this community happy— all of which would not have been possible without people like Mike Uva, Jeff O’Hara (CB90), Wil Crowe (Pittsburgh Pirates), Stephen Garcia (USC Legend), and Grayson Greiner, offering that early support, which legitimized us as the real deal.

The GBS Legends Party

Fast-forward 2 years, and Garrett (our Director of Sales and Merchandise) is in the middle of planning what would become the Legends Party. He had great ideas for what he wanted to try and pull off, knowing early on that using the Market on Main Cock-a-Boose as the venue, would be a fun idea. As far as what the highlight of the event would be, he wasn’t quite sure. My job, as president of GBS is to support, empower, and assist. I knew Garrett was on to something from the beginning, we just had to figure out the details. We spent time tossing around ideas about tastings, meet and greets with current players, talks from a coaches and the like— ya know, covering all the basic concepts, but we still felt stumped. Out of nowhere, the golden ticket idea came to him. He decided that he wanted an event that featured some former players people adored, and decided to call it the Legends Party.

I’m a visual guy. I think in images and pictures. I do the design work for us and my best brainstorming comes through a process of creating visuals and then working from there. I was in my office, listening to Eric Clapton (I think it was “Lay Down Sally” to be exact) and working on the train graphic. With nothing really going on in my head outside of what the Cock-a-Boose itself looked like, suddenly, like a sack of week-old potatoes it hit me— I should invite Grayson Greiner.

Grayson had just retired. I knew he was back in the area since he had recently attended a Gamecock baseball game, and of all people that I could think of, he was a guy that certainly deserved the title of “Legend”.

I reached out to him, not sure what his scheduled would allow, and he almost immediately confirmed his attendance. I was ecstatic and instantly thought of people like Sharon and Terry Hundley, and Dr. Sharon and Randy Eden, who loved Gamecock baseball passionately. I imagined the excitement on their faces when they got to meet someone like THE Grayson Greiner. It was too much to hold in, I had to tell someone immediately.

I messaged Garrett and Paul (our Director of Development) and they shared in my enthusiasm, with Garrett saying something very “Garrett-ish” like, “THAT IS HUGE! LET’S GOOOOO.” And Paul sharing how excited he was about meeting someone he viewed as a genuine, honest-to-God, hometown hero. We were all pumped, ready to run some brick walls, and ready to make the community happy with the big news.

Side note here: I cannot express the feeling of excitement I get when we are planing things for people in our community that we know they’ll really love. Whether it is a surprise guest, a special bottle, or a fun giveaway, the thrill of making people happy never gets old. It is the main reason why I love doing this.

Back to the main action…

Maybe two weeks before the event was scheduled, we were having a barrel tasting with Marc Fischer, one of the owners of Ambrosia Taverna, and we thought it would be fun to take him out for a round of golf. We looked at our schedules and realized that we’d all be in town for the event on August 5th, so we decided we’d book some early-bird tee times to beat the heat (AKA Satan’s Oven for all of you who are not familiar with Columbia in the summer) and allow us time to get showered and dressed for the event that evening.

Paul set up the tee times and had the great idea of inviting the guests who would be attending the event as a way to further show our appreciation (and just get to know them a little better). Unfortunately, Patrick DiMarco and Mike Uva were unavailable, but Grayson and John Strickland were thrilled to join us, setting up for long enjoyable day out in the sun.

I’ll only get up this early on a Saturday for golf in the summer and to support the Gamecocks; today I guess I’m doing both.

My buddy Kyle Kirk and I play golf together often. I knew he was going to be at home Saturday morning, so I shot him a quick text and told him to prepare for a day on the links with a recently retired MLB catcher. He, like me, was thrilled for the opportunity, but also a little intimidated to play with a professional athlete. It didn’t help that I shared a video of Grayson hitting homers during his time playing for the Detroit Tigers— also, if you’ve never met Grayson in person, he’s huge. Dude looks like he could have played football, basketball, and maybe even rugby, which doesn’t help with the intimidation factor.

Our other friend, Jake Carey (who is an insanely great golfer himself) confirmed that he’d be there as well. Just like that, we had our two foursomes ready to roll.

The morning of the round, I picked up Kyle around 7 AM. I was half asleep, and chugging a Red Bull. He mentioned that he was tired as well, but we agreed that early tee times in the hellish Soda City summer was a must. “I only get up this early on a Saturday for golf in the summer and to support the Gamecocks; today I guessI’m doing both.” I told him plainly.

When we arrived at the course, Garrett, Kyle, and I went in and settled up. Garrett was well into telling us a wild story about hanging out at CB18’s the night before, when I remembered that I was about to golf with Grayson Greiner. As I made this realization, I couldn’t help but feel distant nerves creeping in. I am not one who hides my anxious energy very well. I’m pretty up front with it, so I automatically verbalized what was in my mind and said, “I’d love to play in Grayson’s foursome, but I also really don’t want to suck in front of a Gamecock Legend.”

As luck would have it, I got to do just that– suck at golf in front of a Gamecock Legend.

Will the Real Grayson Greiner Please Stand Up

I have to commend Grayson for his generosity. He not only showed up at the course, but obliged all of the request for photos from us before we all paired up and teed off. That’s the thing about him, he was an incredible athlete, but after spending all day with him, I’m convinced that he’s an even better person. Much like my experience hanging out with Spencer Rattler at the GBS Golf Tournament, I walked away beyond impressed with how Grayson carries himself. He’s a kind, genuine person who loves the fans, loves our school, and loves this state.

As the 7:42 Tee Time approached, we had a few guys running late, so Kyle and I paired up with Grayson and Jake, and formed a foursome. Thank God we decided to play Captain’s Choice because Grayson is… well Grayson, and Jake is ELITE. Kyle is no slouch, he can bomb a ball with the best of them, and on the day he was our most consistent putter— but me, well, I brought the most important element of all: comic relief.

Right before teeing off we had an older guy drive up and ask for a favor. I went and spoke to him and he said, “Guys, I had no idea that Grayson Greiner was playing in your group.” We all smiled, enjoying the fact that someone recognized that WE were golfing with a celebrity. The gentleman went on to share how his son (or maybe it was his nephew?) was a big-time Detroit Tigers fan. He then asked if it would interrupt our group if he requested Grayson to be in a video saying hello to the young fan, proving that he did, in fact, meet him. We collectively affirmed that it was okay with us and reassured him that that it wouldn’t bother or interrupt us in the slightest. The older man, said thank you, and then started walking toward me with his camera out, getting ready to record.

If I was trying to hide the look of utter confusion on my face, I failed. The guy knew quickly something wasn’t right. I spoke up and said, “Actually, that’s Grayson right there.” The guy turned as garnet as a cob of Jimmy Red corn and apologized to me and then to Grayson, “I’m so sorry, I thought you were Grayson Greiner.”

If you don’t know me well, here’s a visual for you. I’m barely 6-foot-tall, somewhat thin, but not-at-all athletic in appearance. Grayson on the other hand, towers above me, some 6 to 7 inches taller than me. He is built like a person who can hit Grand-Slams, and clearly gives off the vibe of a person who is in peak physical condition. The fact that, I, a guy who is known more for having Star Wars tattoos and drinking bourbon that anything else, was confused for a professional baseball player, was simply so ridiculous that our entire foursome lost our composure, and bust out laughing.

Grayson, who was smiling ear to ear, was clearly amused by the interaction, and especially enjoyed my look of shock as I realized that he thought I was the pro athlete. I leaned over to Grayson and said, “Well, I guess I can die happy now. I’ve been mistaken for a Major Leaguer.”

After the man received the video for the actual baseball legend, we teed off and got back into our carts still talking about the whole situation. Jake, who was riding with Grayson, said, “GC, you should have taken the video for the guy. Can you imagine what the kid would have said when he told him he met Grayson Greiner and showed him a video of some random dude.” We all broke into laughter again— a theme that continued the entire round.

The Good, The Bad, and The Pabst Before 10:30am

As far as my personal golf game, it was pretty forgettable. I hit a few good ones, hit some truly terrible ones, made a putt I’m especially proud of, missed a few that I really should have made, and somehow managed to contribute with a couple well placed drives. As much as I wanted to avoid remembering my poor play, the day itself was anything but forgettable. Playing with Grayson, Jake, and Kyle, was a blast. Collectively speaking, our foursome played well enough to hold our own in some scrambles. Kyle and Jake kept crushing the drives, Grayson made some clutch approach shots, Kyle hit a couple 20 foot birdie putts, and I found ways to contribute where I could– mostly with a lot of positive affirmations and the occasional sarcastic comments.

I will admit though, my game improved by a large margin at the turn when Grayson bought a round of beers for everyone. I don’t usually drink beer before 10:30 in the morning, but when a guy like Grayson offers, you say yes. He grabbed some Coors (shout out to Coors, the new owners of our favorite bourbon brand, Blue Run) and I chose Pabst. The guys around me could care less what I drink, but the lady behind the bar judged me with a scathing look and actually said, “PBR… really?”

Side note here: I know there is a lot of hate for Pabst Blue Ribbon. My wife also doesn’t get my infatuation with it. Hell, even I think it is pretty gross compared to the craft beer options in Columbia, but there’s just something about it that brings back good memories from college. Will it impress anyone with its taste? No. Is it considered high class fancy drinking? No. Did it win a Blue Ribbon back in the 1800s? Yes. And maybe that’s good enough for me.

So, with my breakfast Pabst popped open, I was a new man. I even hit my next couple of shots incredibly well, proving that a little Blue Ribbon on the course can go a long way.

The Wrong Tigers

I didn’t find this out until much later, but decided I had to share anyways, because of just how funny it is. Jake, who rode with Grayson all day, is from Michigan. He’s married to our good friend Lori (a big-time Gamecock fan). He, himself loves the Gamecocks as his adopted team, but first and foremost, he’s a Michigan Wolverines fan, which is just fine with us (just don’t bring up that Clowney hit in front of him). With him being from Michigan, he naturally is a Detroit sports fan– which worked well with him pairing up with Grayson, since he’s a former Detroit Tiger.

When Jake met Grayson pre-round, he made some comments about the Tigers (Detroit) and mentioned being a huge fan of theirs. Grayson, however, misunderstood and thought he meant he was a Clemson Tigers fan. If you didn’t know, Grayson grew up here in South Carolina, and absolutely hated Clemson as a kid. USC was the only school he wanted to go to, and the rivalry was extra special for him since he grew up despising those guys from the upstate. Knowing his feelings for them, the fact that he thought we paired him with a Clemson fan all day is hilarious. By the time he realized that Jake meant Detroit Tigers, they were about 7 or so holes in, resulting in a good laugh for both.

The funniest part? Jake was actually wearing a Gamecock Baseball polo the whole time.

Finishing Up

We eventually had John, Paul, and Garrett join us, after Marc had to leave early. That was when the real fun started. Going head-to-head against those guys for the final 6 or 7 holes brought a more serious competitive spirit to the round, making for a memorable finish with all 3 of the GBS team members talking some good-natured smack, sharing laughs, and enjoying time with each other, and the guys we were playing with.

I’m not always very sentimental, sometimes I can even be completely oblivious to just how important moments in life are until they pass me by, but there was a few seconds out there while I was standing on the tee box of hole 17, where I intentionally took the time to look around and appreciate how cool what were doing really was. Being out there on a golf course, in my favorite city, and teeing off with old friends, new friends, heroes and legends, was an experience that I could never forget. I realized then, things like, when a person became a fan, which stadium they liked best, who their favorite player was, or even if a team’s season was successful or not, didn’t really matter. The joy doesn’t come from those things, not really. The joy comes from the moments themselves, the time spent, and relationships that are born from the good times.

Don’t Meet Your Heroes, Unless Your Heroes Are Grayson Greiner

After spending the day playing golf with Grayson, I have only great things to say about him. He’s a great golfer, a great guy to hang with, and I’m privileged to now call him a great friend.

They say to never meet your heroes, because often times you realize they were not worthy of your support— and frankly a lot of them re assholes. But in the case of Greiner, I realized that what makes him special is not his baseball career, but who he is as a person.

Go Cocks!

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