ASHLAND -- On a frigid and rainy November afternoon at Brookside Golf Course, a bench dedication ceremony honored an individual who embodied the exact opposite of what the weather was trying to portray.
Zach McGregor, who died on Nov. 22, 2018, was honored Sunday with a bench donated by his mother, Jen Reed.
Zach had a passion for the sport and played junior golf at Brookside when he was a kid and was a member of the Mapleton High School golf team.
For Reed, she knew there was no other place this bench could have gone.
“Ever since I got Zach’s diagnosis, I had been thinking about doing a bench or a tree or something here. This opportunity came about and I had to do it,” she said.
Now that one of Zach’s younger brothers is a part of the Brookside junior golf program and his other younger brother is gaining interest as well, Reed hopes they are able to see this bench and feel that connection with Zach.
“I thought it would be a really neat thing for them to see the bench here whenever they come to Brookside, whether it's for junior golf or when they get on the Mapleton golf team,” she said. “They’ve watched Zach’s love for golf and I think they feel a connection to Zach by playing golf as well.”
To Zach’s friends and family, he will be remembered as someone who was strong, fierce and never backed down even when things became more difficult for him. One element that Reed was sure to include on the bench’s plaque is one of Zach’s favorite quotes from golf legend Arnold Palmer.
The quote reads “Success in this game depends less on strength of body, than strength of mind and character.”
Ken Eckenroth, Zach’s golf coach at Mapleton, took time to reflect on one of his fondest memories with Zach.
“I remember one specific instance where he was in a lot of pain that day and we were over at the club. He started out on the first hole and he made it through the first hole but he was struggling,” Eckenroth said.
While Zach’s pain did nothing to subside, he continued playing because that’s just the kind of person he was.
“I said ‘Zach, you don’t have to continue’ but he said back to me ‘no I’m OK. I can do it.’ And that’s the way he was all the time. He didn’t want any help, he wanted to do it on his own. He was just the gutsiest kid I’ve ever had. He was dedicated to the game and absolutely loved golf,” Eckenroth explained.
This bench now marks one of three at Brookside Golf Course. Event organizer and Friends of Brookside Golf Course Secretary Gene Haberman hopes they will be able to have benches at every hole on the course some day.
“We are always trying to support this golf course and specifically a golf program for the young people in the community,” he said.
Ultimately, Zach’s legacy will live on at Brookside and those who come after him will be sure to play with even half as much drive and determination as he did.
“Zach couldn’t do many activities or many sports,” Reed said. “But golf is where his heart was, so I think that’s very important.”