Marion Heck’s final title was merely becoming.
He was a heck of a man. And a heck of a golfer to those that knew him.
The Fort Myers Beach, Florida, resident died Saturday at the age of 81, following a diverse profession that included 56 occasions on the PGA Tour, 69 extra on the PGA Tour Champions, and so many others.
Former tour player Nolan Henke of Fort Myers was a part of a gaggle textual content of golfers exchanging messages about Heck after studying of his passing.
“All of these conversations were either beginning or ending with ‘He was such a great guy,’” Henke stated. “It’s somebody that you want to model your life after.”
“He was the consummate professional, and obviously a great player, but just a good guy overall,” stated Fort Myers’ George McNeill, a PGA Tour player.
“He was a wonderful person who was very humble and he was a winner,” City of Fort Myers director of golf Rich Lamb stated.
Heck moved to Southwest Florida in 1959 and was a relentless at nearly something involving golf. He performed in a handful of PGA Tour occasions as an novice from 1962-67, after which as a professional from 1971-77. He gave up skilled golf after that, later telling the Chicago Tribune it was on account of “lack of talent.”
Marion Heck, who performed in 125 occasions mixed on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, died at the age of 81.
Heck taught golf for 5 years and later gave skilled golf one other shot, qualifying for the PGA Tour Champions (then the Senior Tour) in 1990. He had two top-10s and eight top-25s in his Senior Tour profession.
Heck wasn’t only a tour player. He was lively all through the state. He received the South Florida PGA Senior Section Championship in 1991 and 1992, and he received the Florida Senior Open Championship at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, the place he performed out of, in 1993, 1996 and 1997.
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“He was just one of those guys you wanted to be around,” South Florida PGA Section government director Geoff Lofstead stated. “He just was a fun guy. Every time you saw him, he was in a good mood, and he was obviously a great player. More than anything, he was a great person to be around.
“He loved to play the game, and he played it at such a high level for so long.”
In the 2002 Yuengling Open, which has had many sponsor names over time like Beck’s and Coors Light, Lamb paired Heck with three of his novice buddies from the Tampa space. “The three guys from Tampa approached me after the round, they seemed disgruntled about their pro,” Lamb stated. “They were rattling my chain.”
Heck, who was 62, had almost shot his age, firing a 64. He additionally shot a 72 and at age 72 within the fiftieth annual event in 2012.
Heck received the Yuengling Open in 1966-67, changing into the second — and nonetheless the final — to win it back-to-back. Heck received the occasion once more in 1969, 1975 and 20 years later in 1995.
Henke remembered one other Yuengling Open story. They had been enjoying Fort Myers Country Club, earlier than it was renovated a number of years in the past, and arrived to No. 7, a par 3.
“Marion, how many hole-in-ones do you have?” one in all their enjoying companions requested.
Heck considered it for a second.
“I have seven,” he stated. “On this hole.”
When McNeill received the Yuengling Open for the primary time in 2002, he was enjoying with Heck, who additionally was in rivalry. Heck’s nickname for McNeill was “Fly.”
“Fly, if I can’t win it, I want you to win it, so play good,” Heck instructed him.
“He couldn’t have been more encouraging,” McNeill stated. “He was the primary one to say ‘Congrats.’”
Make no mistake, Heck was gracious and kind. But he could play.
Lamb was new to town in 1977 and ended up facing Heck in the Southwest Chapter PGA Match Play. Lamb shot 37 on the front nine at Palmetto Pines in Cape Coral. And he was 8 down. Heck had shot a 28.
“Marion eventually beat me 9 down with 8 to play,” Lamb said.
When Derek Lamely, an FGCU star who also played on the PGA Tour, first met Heck, they were playing a “game” at Lochmoor Country Club.
“I didn’t know who he was,” Lamely stated. “I was a little snot-nosed kid. And he whipped me up and down, back and forth. It was awesome. I mean I didn’t like it at the time, but looking back on it, he was awesome.”
And they had been mates for all times after that. That occurred rather a lot with Heck, who was the type of particular person to look out for the up-and-comers.
“He would always be very encouraging a lot of us younger guys that played with him,” McNeill stated. “It’s a competitive game obviously between each person, but he was more than encouraging and tried to help us all out.”
“That man never paid a greens fee in his life,” Henke stated, chuckling. “He knew everybody. I’d come home from college and we’d go play. I didn’t have a lot of money. He’d call me and say ‘Hey, we’re going out at Fiddlesticks today.’ He took me under his wing and got me out to play different places. He really helped me in that respect.”
Greg Hardwig is a sports activities reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, e-mail him at [email protected]