Here's how much Jack Lumpkin means to Davis Love III: Love made the trip from his home in Sea Island, Ga., to Augusta for Lumpkin's induction Saturday night into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
"It's big for Jack," Love said of Lumpkin, who was a close friend of Love's late father, Davis Love Jr., and has been Love's instructor since 1991.
"I realize how important Jack has been to golf in the state and all around the country," Love said. "He's good for the game, and it's good that nights like this happen."
Lumpkin, who also works with Vaughn Taylor, of Evans, has been ranked by Golf Digest as Georgia's No. 1 instructor each year since 2000. His input has been invaluable for the 44-year-old Love.
"I've know Jack since I was really little," Love said.
"When I was growing up, my idea of golf pros were my dad and Jack Lumpkin. He's been a big influence in my life, especially since my dad passed away (in 1988)."
Before leaving Sea Island, Love told his son, Davis IV, that he was going to Augusta for Lumpkin's induction into the Georgia hall.
"He asked me, 'Are you in that?' and I said yes. He said, 'Are you going to be in the World Golf Hall of Fame (one day)?' For Jack, this is his World Golf Hall of Fame. Being ranked as a top teacher each year, that's his Masters. That's his sense of achievement."
Love made the trip to Augusta with Bill Jones III, the chairman and CEO of Sea Island Company. Lumpkin lives in Sea Island and teaches at Sea Island Resort, which is owned by Sea Island Co.
"I said to Bill, 'It's awful nice, as busy as your schedule is, to do this.' He said, 'You know, it's more than just the right thing to do.' We both feel like this is a well-deserved honor."
Love, a 19-time winner on the PGA Tour -- including the 1997 PGA Championship -- is recovering from Oct. 2 surgery on his left ankle. The injury occurred in mid-September, when Love stepped in a hole on the golf course and tore the outside ligaments in the ankle. His recovery is ahead of schedule, Love said, and he plans to make his return at the Honda Classic on Feb. 28, if not sooner.
He'll need a strong start in order to extend his string of consecutive Masters Tournament appearances to 18. Love, a two-time runner-up at Augusta National Golf Club, has not qualified for the 2008 event.
In those years when Love won on tour, he played in the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii, which is for winners from the previous year. Love would then stay in Hawaii for the Sony Open the following week.
The Sony is being played this week, so Love was asked what he would have done had he played in the Mercedes. Would he have returned to the mainland for Lumpkin's induction and skipped the Sony?
"Yeah, I probably would have," he said.
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.