My Best of 2019

Maybe it’s because we seemed to find ourselves surrounded by bad news most every day, but 2019 seemed to last too long.

But let’s not linger on tribulation today. Plenty of nice things happened, too.

Todd Snider recorded an acoustic album in Johnny Cash’s old cabin. Our Women’s National Team won the World Cup. My dad moved to The Villages — Florida’s friendliest hometown. I learned how to curl.

I was fortunate enough to hear, see and do some nice things, too. Here are a few highlights:

Favorite Concert: The Last Waltz

November 18, The Amp, St. Augustine

The Band was one of the first critically-acclaimed, slightly-off-main-street group that grabbed my attention and illuminated how special music can be, even if I started listening to this music 30 years after it was recorded.

To hear “It Makes No Difference,” “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and all my other favorites from “The Last Waltz” concert performed by a cast of all stars including Warren Haynes, Lukas Nelson and Don Was was all I could ever ask for.

Also, Jamey Johnson sang “Georgia On My Mind” and I’m pretty sure I have to move back to Athens now.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Widespread Panic at The Amp, St. Augustine (Night 1) 
  • Keller Williams performing Tom Petty classics at the Backyard, St. Augustine 
  • Drive-By Truckers at the Florida Theatre 
  • Shovels & Rope, Marcus King and the Tedeschi-Trucks Band at Daily’s Place, Jacksonville
  • J. Roddy Walston & The Business, The Amp, St. Augustine

Favorite Race: Lucas Oil Late Models Winternationals

February 7, East Bay Raceway

Tyler Erb and Jonathan Davenport were the class of the Lucas Oil Late Model field early in the 2019 season — Davenport went on to win the 2019 championship — so it was no surprise to see the two racing hard for the win at East Bay Raceway Park the first week of the season.

But the two tangled with a handful of laps to go, setting up a thrilling battle in the closing laps between upstart Hudson O’Neal and veteran Earl Pearson, Jr. The two brought the capacity crowd to its feet with a photo finish that favored O’Neal.

Erb held on to finish third and was met on the podium by a chorus of boos. It was good fun.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Indianapolis 500 
  • Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds 
  • Southeastern Sprint Car Series at All-Tech Raceway 
  • Powell Memorial at Volusia Raceway Park

Favorite Golf Course: Pole Creek Golf Club, Tabernash, Colorado

I played more golf this year than I have in a long while, and the repetition didn’t help my game that much. Then again, golf courses tend to stick in my memory longer than actual scores. My mind keeps going back to Pole Creek.

Sitting on 8,600 feet of elevation and looking out at mountains 12,000 feet high all around you, it’s pretty easy to shrug off an errant 8-iron. Thanks to that elevation, I watched one of my best friends hit a 350-yard drive and a 186-yard pitching wedge to help win me $30. Thanks, Matty.

If you’re looking to play some mountain golf and don’t want to spend more than $100, just make the drive to Tabernash — even if you’re two hours away. Don’t forget to stop and smell the wildflowers.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Druid Hills Country Club, Atlanta
  • Country Club of Silver Springs Shores, Florida

Happy New Year.

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