They had the bucket ready and waiting for Robert "Doc" Graves on Monday night, when the Arizona Golf Association's volunteer extrordinaire was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Marriott Camelback Golf Club.
But, as usual, the good doctor fooled them.
"Yeah, I started choking up and thought we might need (a bucket)," admitted the 73-year-old Graves. "But once I got into my storytelling routine — I took them all the way from the alpha to the omega — it went well, even if I did probably talk the longest of all (the inductees)."
The crusty but lovable Graves, who has logged more than 20,000 hours of volunteer service with the AGA during the past 25 years, was one of four honorees to go into the Hall of Fame. The others were Mark Kizziar, a past president of the PGA of America and the former tournament chairman of The Tradition; longtime superintendent Paul McGinnis, a past president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America; and Louise Solheim, the chairman emeritus of PING, whose late husband, Karsten, founded the company.
But, as he usually does, Doc stole the show.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that, even though they must have taken a million pictures of me," Graves countered. "(Xavier golf coach) Sister Lynn (Winsor) was the emcee, and she was pretty darn good, as she has a wonderful sense of humor.
"But Sister Lynn did make one little mistake. She has known me for years and years, and for some reason she said I'd given 1,000 hours of (volunteer service). Heck, I can do 1,000 hours every six months. So, I guess, she just got one of her lines wrong."
One thing is certain: No one has ever done more for the AGA than Graves, a
former chiropractor from Denver who retired when he was 47 and moved to the Ahwatukee Foothills area. Over the years, Graves has measured or lasered every course in Arizona, served as a rules official in which he has administered hundreds of penalties while still maintaining the respect of most of his "victims," and become the state's No. 1 ambassador for amateur golf.
"I've been in every nook, every cranny, every gully and on every mountain top of every golf course in this state," Graves said with obvious pride. "And during that time, I've gone through 13 cars while driving over 500,000 miles (for the AGA). . . . "And I didn't ask for a dime! Why, (the AGA) pays these guys to do that now. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen in my life."
What's really amazing about Graves is most of the volunteer work he does now comes strictly from the heart. Even though he was once a very good player, "I don't have much game left any more."
"I probably play once a week, because my knees are going and my hips left me years ago," he said. "But there was a time. . . ."
No kidding. Graves once held the record at Ahwatukee Country Club behind a stellar 9-under 63. And his 49 still is the standard to beat at Ahwatukee Lakes, an executive 18 that plays to a par of 60.
"I've shot my age a couple of dozen times," he said. "But I'm not the only golfer in the family. My wife, Barbara, recently got her fourth hole-in-one, and she lets me know it. I've never had one in 63 years of playing the game, although I have had a couple of (double-eagle) 2s on par-fives."
Graves also is quite a historian, as he has watched Arizona golf grow up from its infancy.
"Oh, heck, I remember when I first got here in the late '70s, there were damn few golf courses in Arizona, believe it or not. Now, we're approaching 400 even though the building is starting to slow down a little bit."
Not Graves, who continues to keep on ticking just like the dresser drawer full of watches he has used over the years to time players.
In fact, "Doc's got you on the clock" has been part of the organization's lore.
Those words will continue despite the ceremonies Monday night.
"Oh, absolutely not," he said when asked of any pending retirement.
"As long as I can think, as long as I can imagine things and take action, I'm still young. . . . At least in my own mind."