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Golfweek Comp Issue March 15, 2013 : Page 44

THE G OLF L IFE BY DESIGN INNISBROOK ARCHITECT LARRY PACKARD, NEARLY 101, HAS WORKED – AND LIVED – FOLLOWING A FEW SIMPLE RULES By Martin Kaufmann A CENTURY OF HAPPINESS Palm Harbor, Fla. No sooner had I sat down to lunch with Larry Packard than he handed me a sheet of paper. At the top it read, “Six ways to be happy.” First thought: Only six? But Packard must know what he’s talking about. For the past century he has, by all accounts, led a happy and exceedingly productive life – designing or renovating some 250 courses, according to Roger Packard, his son and former business partner. Packard has been retired since 1986, but the man and his work live on. He’ll be nearing his 101st birthday this week when the PGA Tour visits Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course, a Packard design that opened in 1970. So perhaps it’s not a bad time to assess the man and his rules to live by. Rule No. 1: Associate with happy, friendly people. Whenever the American Society of Golf Course Architects would gather, Packard invariably was the sharpest dresser in the room, and always with a winning smile, said Paul Fullmer, the group’s former executive secretary. Packard’s booming voice could command a room, and he often dazzled people with his many talents. He played the banjo, piano and organ, he could sing and dance, paint, and, according to his son, “recite poems from memory that would bring a room to tears.” Roger Packard joined his father’s design firm in 1970, and they worked together until Larry retired. Roger, who later moved his practice to Shanghai, described his father in an email: “Always the gentleman. Family came first. A great teacher and partner. A great sense of humor. Talented in so many ways. He’s very old school, which is refreshing today.” Such opinions weren’t confined to the Packard family. As a young golf architect in Chicago, Jeff Brauer recalls having to live off the scraps while Packard was gobbling up much of the prime business in the Midwest. “So I was really prepared not to like this guy at all,” Brauer said. Then he met Packard when both were interviewing with a prospective client. “And I thought, ‘Holy smokes, how can you not like Larry Packard?’ ” Rule No. 2: Eat compatible, nutritional foods. Stay away from foods or drinks which are indigestible. Do not overeat or drink. Larry Packard is sitting in the restaurant that bears his name, at the Florida resort where he built four courses. This is a good day, but the sour look on Packard’s face indicates something isn’t quite right. He’s clearly not enjoying his filet. “Where did you get this?” he asks the waiter. “Did you shoot it?” The waiter laughs. One senses that Packard enjoys yanking his chain. Packard always has been meticulous, precise; when the food in his restaurant PHOTOS COURTESY OF GRAND GOLF RESORTS OF FLORIDA doesn’t meet his exacting standards, he doesn’t mind letting people know. So Packard takes his own advice and returns the steak. But his nursing assistant grabs him a dessert for later. Rule No. 3: If married, BE FAITHFUL! Nobody likes a run-around. Larry Packard already was engaged when a co-worker at Westover Field in Massachusetts invited him to dinner to meet his daughter, Dorothy, one night in the late 1930s. According to Roger, his father quickly dumped his fiancee and pursued Dorothy. Larry and Dorothy were married on Jan. 16, 1941, and they remained together until her death in September 1992. Larry subsequently was paired for a round on Copperhead with a feisty woman named Ann Browning, who recently had moved south from New 44 Golfweek • March 15, 2013 •

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