It’s a shame the tuxedo will go unused.
But 50-year-old Martin Rifkin packed it for his flight to Long Island from Fort Wayne, Ind., Saturday.
The tuxedo was only to be used for tonight’s black-tie Bat Mitzvah for his friend’s daughter in New Jersey in case he couldn’t make his 12:25 p.m. starting time at Atlantic Golf Club as an alternate at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. But he won't need it.
Rifkin, who has access to a private jet, was called early this morning by the USGA to take the place of former major league pitcher Mark Mulder, who withdrew with a shoulder injury this morning.
“I was reading the Wall Street Journal, getting ready to work out and the caller ID says USGA,” Rifkin said. “And I think, I’ve been waiting for three weeks.”
The call came from Bill McCarthy, the USGA’s staff in charge of the Mid-Amateur.
“I got the call,” Rifkin said. “I did the math and I said ‘Well, I’ll give it a shot. If for some reason, I don’t make my tee time, I can go to my friend’s party.’ ”
Rifkin, in a plane owned by his family after they sold a scrap metal business, took off from Fort Wayne at 10 a.m. Eastern and landed at East Hampton Airport at 11:20. He was in a car loaned to him by his friend Chad Penman, an assistant at Maidstone Golf Club. He arrived at Atlantic Golf Club at 11:45 a.m.
“I hit half a dozen 7-irons, half a dozen drivers, five putts and got on the shuttle to the 10th tee,” Rifkin said. “And then I birdied hole!”
He shot 44 on the inward nine of Atlantic and followed with an even-par 36 on the outward nine for an 8-over-par 80.
“Under the circumstances, I was satisfied,” Rifkin said. “It took about nine holes to calm down and nine holes to get a feel for the conditions, the speed of greens, a lot of stuff you’d get from practice rounds.”
Rifkin, who qualified for the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle, wouldn't change his decision, saying it was “absolutely worth it. But, now I’ve got to find a place to stay tonight.” --Pete Kowalski