Waco’s Bear Ridge Golf Course received a surprise visitor early Friday morning when Tom Watson, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, showed up unannounced to play the newly renovated semi-public course.
Watson was in town for a cutting horse tournament. The five-time British Open Champion along with Masters and US Open winner, stepped into the Bear Ridge clubhouse with a friend about 7 a.m. Friday to ask if there was room for him to play a quick round of golf.
“You look just like Tom Watson,” said Bear Ridge employee Ryan New.
“In fact, I am,” Watson replied.
Among the Waco players Watson joined for his unexpected round were Waco’s Mike Williams and China Spring High School golf star Peyton Iverson.
“These are some of the best greens I’ve putted on anywhere,” Watson told Bear Ridge owner Tommy Tompkins in a post-round lunch Friday. “Do you know what makes your course so special? It’s the character of your course with the greens and the fairways and approaches.”
Such praise made Tompkins’ day.
“It made me feel really good to hear Tom Watson say so many nice things about the greens and the course,” Tompkins said. “For him to think we going in the right direction means everything.”
Watson has taken up the sport of cutting horses since his retirement from competitive golf. He was introduced to the sport by his late wife Hilary, who passed away in 2019. Tom was in Waco for the weekend for a large cutting horse event at the Extraco Events Center. He looked up golf courses in Waco and found out Bear Ridge was designed by his longtime friend Peter Jacobsen.
“It was quite a surprise that he showed up at the course, but he couldn’t have been nicer to play with people here, including Peyton from China Spring, and sign autographs and take photos with several people,” Tompkins said. “It was a great experience for us.”
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