Originally created 08/25/04

Price's true side comes out at ceremony



Twenty-three years worth of stories about Red Price - the time he spent as either head pro or general manager at Forest Hills Golf Club - were revisited last week at a retirement party for Price, even though he's not really retiring.

Price will remain at the course as a consultant, and work from the 7 a.m. opening to 1 p.m. each day.

"I promised to stay until 1 p.m. so (head pro and general manager) Robby (Watson) can get lunch," Price joked.

Or was it a joke?

The 63-year-old Price likes to put up a tough front, but the people who have been lucky enough to get close to him know better.

Don Grantham, a former president of the Augusta Golf Association, the group that operates Forest Hills for Augusta State University, is one of those.

At Price's send-off last week, Grantham recounted a story that illustrated Price's softer side.

Each Christmas, some wives of Augusta Golf Association members ask Price if there is any holly on the course that they can have for decorations around their houses.

Price personally goes out on the course and cuts the holly, and has it ready when the women come by.

"The holly will be stacked up outside and in some cases he puts it in the car for them; I know that because he's done it for my wife. That's the type of individual Red Price is," Grantham said.

That's typical Price. He likes to stay in the background. Rest assured, the retirement party was not his idea.

"This is a very special occasion," Grantham, the master of ceremonies, announced at the party. "It's one that a lot of people didn't think would happen - especially the honoree."

Before the party, I told Price it wasn't like him to agree to be the center of attention.

"It's a tribute," Price said.

He paused, and whispered, "I could do without it."

After it was over, though, Price had laughed and enjoyed himself as club members and Augusta State officials thanked him for his hard work.

At the start of the party, Price was wearing a yellow sports coat. It wasn't long before he got up and said, "a lot of people don't recognize me" (with the coat on), so he took it off and revealed his normal attire - a white golf shirt with an Augusta State golf logo.

Price's wife, Faye, pointed out beforehand that her husband would be glad he agreed to the party, and she was right.

When I asked members for stories about Price, a common theme emerged. It had to do with how frugal Price is.

Fuzzy Kimmey said Price won't pay more than $3 for lunch.

One day, Kimmey came back with Price's order, which came to $2.95, and Price asked about his five cents change.

"I didn't say anything." Kimmey said, "but he went through the bag until he found his nickel."

"He's tight," Faye Price confirmed. "He's very economical. He'll work on something three hours rather than go buy a new one."

No wonder Price keeps two big rubber bands stretched around his wallet. That's not quite what it seems, though.

"He learned that in the service - to keep somebody from picking your pocket," Faye Price said. "You can't pick a wallet out of a pocket if it's got rubber bands around it. It won't slide out."

Among the many gifts Price received on his night were envelopes of money from separate groups of club members.

Knowing her husband, Faye Price made sure he handed the envelopes immediately to her.

"We're going shopping tomorrow," Faye Price said.