Don Morrison missed last year’s golf tournament and people started to wonder if something was wrong. Considering he was 93 at the time, your mind starts assuming the worst.
“We missed him,” said Dr. Mark Lee.
The mystery dissolved at the 2017 Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor when Morrison, a World War II veteran, returned to his post behind the 16th green. It’s the perfect place for the Army veteran to serve.
“Veterans like that, we active duty guys stand on their shoulders,” said Army Sergeant First Class Daryl Desjardin. “We owe a great sense of gratitude to, and respect to those guys.”
The 16th hole is covered with red, white and blue. The flag atop the pin, unlike the rest of the 17 holes on the Copperhead course, displays the American colors rather than the standard Valspar sign.
So for Morrison, this is the best place to volunteer.
“That’s what I devoted my life for,” he said. “It’s an honor. It’s a pleasure.”
Morrison, who was on the ground in Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge, served in the Army from 1942 to 1946. He lives part-time up north and spends half of his year in Florida – where he rarely misses a day on the golf course with his own clubs, nor the annual PGA Tour stop in Palm Harbor.
“I can appreciate good shots,” he said with a smile.
Among his duties as a Valspar volunteer, Morrison monitors errant shots, helps direct fans to their seats and points out to players where their approach shots land near the green.
“He moves like he’s 72 and he’s got great spirit,” said Lee, who is a retired Army colonel.
Morrison, who turns 95 in September, will volunteer for three days at this year’s tournament, then “watch the last day on TV.”