He was Anniston Country Club’s long-time pro and, later, Cider Ridge’s general manager. His name was synonymous with golf around these parts.
But scary bouts with skin cancer forced Moore out of the golf business, and he plays only occasionally for business and family reasons. This weekend, it’s all about family.
Moore is in town for the third annual Buddy Moore Two Man Scramble. It’s the first version of that event since his father, the long-time Anniston Municipal pro for whom the tourney is named, died in February.
Buddy was 71 when he died from complications from injuries suffered in a January 2009 automobile accident.
Scott, who lives and works in Tuscaloosa and who cared for his father in the two years since the wreck, is playing in the tournament for the first time.
“For me, this is more of a joyous occasion, because my father would have loved this,” Scott said. “He would not want to be the center of attention, by any means, but he would love to see the boys of ‘The Hill’ coming back together.
“I’m sure, at this point of his life, he would have said something along the lines of, ‘This is great. I love this. Wouldn’t it be neat if all the boys that have gone before us could be here today?’”
Maybe they were, along with Buddy. An audible breeze stirred the large white oak tree near the first tee box as Scott and Tim Mullendore spoke before Saturday’s afternoon tee start.
Their emotional remarks came after Scott unveiled a monument, which Mullendore sponsored. Engraved on the face is a PGA pro logo and the following words: “Robert Leon ‘Buddy’ Moore, PGA professional 1969-2009, our pro and friend.”
Mullendore spoke first. He paused, paced and cleared his throat occasionally to stay his emotions as he told how three generations of his family golfed on The Hill.
“We all loved Buddy,” he said, then summed up what the day was about. “We’re all here to celebrate out friendship with Buddy Moore.”
Scott stood to the side, his lips wound tightly as he tried to keep emotions from seeping through his sun-screen-covered pores. When it came his turn, he told a gathering of golfers plus his mom, Mary Ann, and sister, Angie, about a man they would all recognize.
“One thing about Buddy, Buddy could say anything to you, and you wouldn’t be mad,” he said. “He had a way about him. You knew he was saying it because he cared.”
Minutes before the brief unveiling ceremony, Scott laughed with fellow golfers while sharing just such a story from his youth. Club-slamming mad after hitting into the No. 7 fairway from the No. 6 tee, he sat down in a cart next to his dad.
Buddy tried to snap his son back into humor: “You need training wheels.”
It’s uncertain whether that’s an official Buddyism, but Buddyisms can be seen on signs posted at tee boxes around the course this weekend.
“It’s out there for you,” reads one sign. Reads another, “The Lord be with you and the wind at your back.”
Another sign showed just how much Buddy preferred that patrons pay cart fees: “If you are walking, we don’t need you.”
Such was the backdrop for Scott’s poignant return to Anniston, which was different than previous such occasions. He brought his dad to this event the past two years but didn’t play. This weekend, he brought his clubs.
Over about 15 years, Scott has undergone three surgeries and on-going follow-up treatment related to cancerous squamous cells on his skin. It forced him to severely curtail his golfing habit and find new, indoor work.
“I finally got tired of being cut on … that, and I was no good at it,” said Scott, who works for Josten, a company that makes class and championship rings. “Plus, I enjoy what I do now, and it takes a lot of time.
“I’ll go out and play a little customer golf, and that’s about it.”
The Buddy Moore Scramble has become a must-play for area golfers who knew Buddy, which are most of them. The field fills quickly each year.
This weekend’s lineup includes Jeremy McGatha and Jaylon Ellison, who teamed to break the Sunny King Charity Classic’s modern scoring record in July. There’s also Gary Wigington, who won the Calhoun County Championship a week ago.
And for the occasion of the first Buddy Moore Scramble after Buddy’s passing, there was Scott. It seemed only right for the son to brave the sun for these two rounds of golf.
There was the tall, blond son of the beloved late pro, across the street and up The Hill from his boyhood home. He was visiting with folks at the clubhouse, his other boyhood home.
He found abundant handshakes and folks eager to laugh over Buddy stories. They had been used to seeing Buddy before the wreck, not so much since.
“He had been battling ever since the wreck,” Scott said. “The thing about his he never lost his demeanor. He was always kind. He was never mad at anybody. He was never upset. He was as easy-going as he has always been.”
Scott said his dad knew complications from wreck-related injuries were worsening, and he was facing his final days. There was “a silver lining” in all of that.
“There’s a reason for everything, and my father got saved in October of 2010,” Scott said. “I firmly believe that’s why he was with us at that time is just so that would happen.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.