Memories of milkshakes, Slammin' Sammy
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Brenda Quick used to serve Sam Snead milkshakes.
"'I want a chocolate milkshake with double chocolate, extra thin, filled to the brim,'" Quick remembers Snead saying the first time she waited on him at the White Sulphur Springs Tastee Freez. "I'll never forget that."
Quick, then a high schooler working a summer job in the 1960s, would watch for "Slammin' Sammy" to pull up in a black limo, park on the side of the road and walk up to her window to order. She'd have the shake waiting on him.
The famous golfer would give her a little smile, tip his signature short-brimmed straw cap and tip Quick with a $10 or $20 dollar bill. The shake was $1.
"I knew him from the black-and-white TV days," Quick said Tuesday, as she sat in the West Virginia Department of Tourism's -- her employer -- air-conditioned box. The elevated building connected to a section of stadium seats that overlooked the green on Hole No. 17. Near the hole, spectators walked around the cart path, and PGA Tour pros hit their approach shots. Quick could name most of them.
An avid golf fan and Lewisburg resident, Quick has worked The Greenbrier Classic every year except one. The self-described "country girl" has roots in the area and at The Greenbrier. She's been an ambassador for West Virginia to tourists who enter the state, and, during tournament week, she's an ambassador for the game of golf. But despite her love of the game and association with Snead, Quick's always been more of a spectator than a ball striker.
Groups of people casually walked the grounds of the Old White Course on Tuesday as the pros played practice rounds and, later, chaperoned kids around the links. It was "Youth Day" at The Greenbrier, and around 1:30 p.m., PGA Tour players mentored young golfers as part of the First Tee program.
You can tell who the kids' favorite players are, Quick said, by the outfits they wear. She'd seen a kid in a bright orange shirt and flat-brimmed hat in the morning, she said, and knew right away he was a Rickie Fowler fan.
"And who doesn't love Rickie Fowler?" she said. "And I just love Jordan Spieth."
Quick and her husband watched Spieth win this year's U.S. Open, and they watched Dustin Johnson lose it. Even though she's a Spieth fan, she was pulling for Johnson. Really, she pulls for everybody, she said. That's the thing about golf: it's a game of respect and camaraderie.
Most days you can find Quick working at the West Virginia I-64 West Welcome Center, where she's worked for 20 years. She estimates she's met about 8 million people over the years. It's a job where you make new friends, she said, like you do when you work The Greenbrier Classic.
The tournament keeps getting better and better, Quick said. She compared it to West Virginia: Outsiders don't know what they're missing until they come to the state, kind of like PGA Tour pros enjoy The Greenbrier Classic once they've discovered it.
Quick's father caddied at The Greenbrier back in the 1960s for almost a decade. He caddied for Snead, who served as The Greenbrier's pro. And he'd sometimes help Snead on his Hot Springs, Virginia, farm. The two maintained a relationship over the years, Quick said, and sometimes Snead was a surprise guest at her birthday parties.
"I don't know why I never took a lesson from him," Quick said of Snead.
Quick managed the pro shop at the Lewisburg Elks Country Club before starting her gig with the Department of Tourism. But the avid golf fan who anticipates the announcement of each year's Greenbrier Classic player field and who, according to coworker Robin Clower, celebrates her off-weekends -- because she can watch golf -- has only played two rounds in her entire life.
She always worked two or three jobs, and she put her energy into raising her son. Playing golf couldn't be a priority.
One of the times Quick played -- at Valley View Country Club, because an acquaintance begged her to -- she did "OK." She beat her acquaintance -- who'd taken golf lessons for two years -- by seven strokes. She wasn't invited back.
"I like the sidelines," Quick said.
You can get involved with the players, she said, get absorbed in the game. And you can root for everybody.
This article was written by Wade Livingston from The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.