The time I tee’d it up with Shaft

While in college, I was a waiter at a great seafood restaurant in Wrightsville Beach NC called the Bridgetender. At the Bridgetender we would occasionally see a celebrity in the restaurant. Wilmington has a movie studio where some pretty big movies have been filmed over the years. Well one evening Richard Roundtree came in and I waited on him. Depending on how old you are, you may or may not recognize the name…but in the early 70’s he was better known as Shaft. Since those days he has had quite a career in acting…but he was definitely best known for his role as Shaft.

Waiting on him was awesome. He was really cool and was very chatty with me and the rest of the staff that got to meet him. We were real careful about not making a fuss over celebrities because we wanted them to feel comfortable and keep coming back. Most of them that came in were quiet and did not care to chat or be bothered by us or by other patrons. I don’t blame them. And this was back in the mid 90’s when there were no cell phone cameras – I can’t imagine what it must be like these days to be a celebrity at a restaurant…

So anyway, after his meal, the owner of the Bridgtender (Jim) stopped by the table to say hello and somehow the 3 of us started talking about golf. The owner and I would play together often and Shaft was an avid golfer. {Hence forth, I will call him Shaft and not Richard}. Shaft asked about courses in the area and which ones he should play. We told him about a few and then told him we played every week or so at a course called Porter’s Neck and that he should definitely check it out. Well, we wrapped it up and he headed out.

About a week later I was at my house and the phone rang…it was early in the morning I remember. I answered and the person said…

“Wes, Roundtree”.

I paused for a sec…and said “what?”. He said “Wes, it’s Richard Roundtree. I called Jim up at the restaurant and got your number. Can you tee it up with me today at Porter’s Neck?”. I flipped out. I held it together long enough to say HECK YEAH! and asked him what time. He said “how about in an hour?”. I said “See ya there” and hung up. I remember banging on my roommates door (who was still asleep) and yelled – dude, I’m going to play golf with Shaft!”.

When I got there he was in the club house talking to the guys in the shop and they were clearly looking at me wondering who in the hell I was and why I was playing with Shaft. By the way it was just me and Shaft….like 2 buddies playing. They got his autograph and we headed to the first tee. A few people gathered around to watch him hit his first tee shot and we were off. The rest of the day was just great – we smoked a giant cigar (he brought 2 nice ones), talked about his movies, hit a few nice shots and some bad ones, had a beer or two and then shook hands on the 18th green and took off. It was such a memorable day…..and well worth skipping the 11am and 1pm classes I had that day!

Well that night he came in again for dinner and asked to sit in my section. We talked about the round and agreed we would try to play again. We never did and I’m sure he probably doesn’t remember me now, but I’ll always remember that round!!