The real Brooklyn legend is this guy (no, not Justin Leonard. The other one)

Brooklyn, Massachusetts. – It’s just before 5 p.m. when a local operator (who asks not to be named) surveys hole 17 at The Country Club, an 1893 course that’s old by American golf standards. Starts playing the beats. “look at this?” Points to the fence, through some trees. It is the home of Francis Oymet. The patron saint of Brooklyn was raised at 246 Clyde Street. He was carrying a briefcase at the club and still living at home when, at age 20, in 1913, he qualified for the US Open, spat in the eyes of conference, and became the most elusive winner in tournament history by defeating pros Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff. “Look over there,” the canister says, pointing to a spot on the green. Justin Leonard stood there, looking forward to that hit, the one that rolled and rolled and hit the cup, blowing up one of the parties in golf history. The outrageous T-shirted Americans went across the green stripes, awkwardly jumped their fists, celebrated hitting all the hits and winning the 1999 Ryder Cup.

These are the stories found in the records. Pictures in the club. With the 2022 US Open returning to The Country Club this week, you’ll hear all about it.

But there is another story from Brookline’s seventeenth book. The case tends to tell this, as if making sure a lurking nun doesn’t hear. None of this is a secret anymore—hell, it’s been two decades—but in Boston, old habits die hard, and when a neighborhood guy tells a story about another neighborhood guy, it’s best not to gossip. Irish Catholic Appreciation.

The can again tells of Leonard’s famous hit. These images are burned in time. The ball rushes into the jar and Leonard takes off as he runs. Arms in the air, wild eyes. Running to his left, not sure where to go, what to do. He rushes off the side of the green while chasing down members of the American team. He stops and turns, howls in the air. Hubbub.

There, at the time, Leonard is greeted by his first embrace.

“Do you remember the man in the red shirt?” The can asks.


Jun Hui’s phone kept ringing. Barely getting up, he opens his warm eyes, he answers the call, says no to his brother, and hangs up. John had been at The Country Club the day before, drinking drinks, and hanging out. Now he was paying for it. The previous day didn’t quite go as planned, mainly because, as he recounts all this time later, “the Americans got kicked out.”

But now it was a new day, September 26, 1999, the Sunday morning of the 33rd Ryder Cup, and John’s brother had a plan.

why? Because like every great con man in history, Mike Howe always had a plan. That’s what it takes to beat everyone else.

The phone rang again.

“I will not go!” John cried.

and again.

“Mike! I’m not going!”

Mike wasn’t taking an answer of “no”. So John and his wife got up and set off. Mike tells them to meet him at Joey McIntyre’s house. yes, who – which Joey McIntyre. Youngest member of New Kids on the Block. The Hoy family, of six, and the McIntyre family, all nine, grew up together in Boston’s Jamaica Plain section. Joey now owns a huge house about a mile from TCC, one of those old historic homes where cars slow down as they drive. Joey wasn’t around, but the house was open for friends to use during Ryder Cup week. While working on his hangover, John arrives there to find his brother and a few other friends, Billy “Wolfi” Connolly and Eddie O’Brien, whose family owns O’Brien’s funeral home in Southway.

That’s when Mike Hoy distributed the tickets. Well kinda. None of them were real. Mike made it by a friend who owned a printing house in Southway. He had additional credentials of his own. In addition to the ticket that he wore in a lanyard around his neck, Mike created a walkway featuring the Ryder Cup logo and “CLERGY” written in large letters along the bottom.

his plan? Sneak up the ropes and take on the role of Official Chaplain for Team USA.

Mike tied the pass with a belt loop and paired it with a Red Sox hat, of course.

This, and a red golf shirt.


Mike and John Howe, along with their four siblings, spent their formative years in the Marsh Hill area of ​​the Jamaica Plain, about a half-hour walk from The Country Club. The boys were there. They hated golf, and weren’t particularly fond of being a member of the upper class, but the money was good.

Mike excelled as an athlete and was a boxer in golden gloves. His brother says, “He’s a tough, tough kid.” But his way was a little short. Take drugs. prison term. Tough things, dark times. But Mike came out the other way. He’s committed to AA, helped many others along the way, and is also wonderfully chronicled here Jim McCabe.

Moving forward changed Mike’s life for the better, but it also left him in a void. He needed an adrenaline rush. So he bowed to the kind of stunt that got his endorphins going more than anything else – sneaking into sporting events as one of the best games in Boston history. He was a bastard, in a good way. This is how he landed in the Celtics locker room after they won a game over the Lakers in the 1985 Finals. …

And how he ended up on the field after the Red Sox lost the seventh game of the 1986 World Championships…

And inside the ropes at the 1988 US Open in Brooklyn, disguised as a photographer….

And at Alltel Stadium for Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, wearing a fake headphone…

And on the club terrace at K Club in County Kildare, Ireland, sprinkle champagne and party alongside the European national team after their 2006 Ryder Cup win.

“When he got sober, this became his own thing,” John says. “It was like a hobby – getting over people and getting into these situations. If you act like you belong, no one will say anything. He had balls like you didn’t believe it. It would take an hour to tell you all the different things he did.”

In the real world, Mike worked as a builder after getting clean. Later, he took a job at Boston Edison, where he would climb poles as a lineman.

Everything else revolves around the sport.

Like other men of their age, as they got older, John and Mike gravitated toward golf. They started playing, and they engaged in playing. Of course, they wanted to play at Brookline, but one doesn’t simply book play times at one of the most exclusive clubs in the country. So they would come back to the enclosure every now and then, collect some pocket money and rounds Mondays.

“We knew everyone there,” John says. “Well, except for the members.”

When 1999 flipped, there was no chance for Mike to miss a chance to see the Ryder Cup in his home field.

There was also no chance for him to pay for it.

So the tickets were printed.

The plan was prepared.


The key to any successful trick is twofold. You need the confidence of the cat thief and the nerves of a magician. You need to manipulate reality while looking your fingerprint in the eye. Fake ticket delivery? Walking in front of a security guard? Diving under the ropes or walking in the field? Most of us feel a hot, molten burning sensation in our chest. Most of us would hesitate to half-pause. dead giveaways The party will be ready before it begins.

Mike Howie? All he felt was a thrill. He had that courage. Maybe sometimes more courage than a sense, but that is what it takes to live a life like his.

Arriving at The Country Club that Sunday morning in September 1999, Mike’s entire batch of fake ticket holders were able to get through the gates without any problem. The others were watching among their fellow spectators, while Mike wandered around as if he owned the place. John and everyone else already told he had a funny feeling that something incredible was going to happen. The scoreboard said the US was late by 10 to 6 on the last day and word was around the course that it had no chance. Common sense said it’s over. Sunday will be a European crown.

But Mike thinks.

Like any good religious man.

Mike wandered around The Country Club, cheering for an American comeback. It just wasn’t there. It was there, Shoulder to shoulder with the players’ wives, an arm’s length from the U.S. House of Representatives, and a few steps away from every green team. Once, he passed a green pillow that was distributed to VIPs associated with the American team. It made it seem more formal.

I wore today. European advantage waned. In the late afternoon, throngs of fans thronged to the far eastern edge of the stadium. This is where Leonard’s match against Jose Maria Olazabal reached its climax. The two-level seventeenth green is pressed close to the fence line that runs along Clyde Street. Stand there today and you can’t imagine how tight everyone is. There must have been no air to breathe, let alone space to move.

Mike Hoy had the best seat in the house.

After Leonard’s 45-foot strike hit the house, Mike leapt into the air next to the green, leaping up and down. Leonard’s ceremonial dash, by chance, went in his direction. So Mike joins the bear as he hugs Leonard. In the midst of a rave, the US team members and their wives were in high fives while NBC cameras broadcast his face all over the world.

Things from legends.

Mike was photographed in newspapers all over the country. Nobody knows who he is. Search photo archives now and it’s hard to find photos without included. When a book about the 99 Ryder Cup was published a few months after the Americans’ victory, Mike was in the middle of the cover.

A year later, sometime in 2000, Leonard was pulled aside while playing in the tournament. In the period since the knockout took place, he has been asked every question imaginable about that day and what happened in Brooklyn. But this time, he was asked if he remembered the man in the red shirt who hugged him at No. 17. Leonard was caught by surprise. He replied with something like, “Yeah, wasn’t he a priest or something?”

The stranger laughed a great laugh and replied, “Oh, he’s not a man of the cloth.”

And that’s how Justin Leonard learned that in the greatest moment of his golf life, a construction worker was cuddling him.

“I can’t imagine the tension on this guy,” Leonard says today. “His hug was the first time I’ve noticed him, but if you go back and watch all the video from that day, he’s all over the place, right in the middle of everything. He was right behind Ben Crenshaw when he was interviewed on 18 Green by Roger Maltby.”

Leonard wondered for years about the intruder. All he knew was that the guy was assuming he was some kind of professional professional. He told the story during a 2018 episode of “Feherty” on the Golf Channel, adding an air of mystery to the tale. The producers eventually offered to track down Mike and learn of his many exploits. They called him and invited him to the show.

Mike refused.

Not his style.

So he lived in history as that man in the red shirt.

On hearing Mike Howe now, 23 years later, Leonard thinks about it and says, “For me, it’s become part of the story. It’s part of what happened. The weirdness of The Country Club, all things weird, and the incredible history of the Ryder Cup. It’s only fitting for a reason” .

No ill will.

“You know, it fits weirdly,” Leonard says.


Michael J. Howe will not be in Brooklyn for this week’s US Open. He certainly would if he could, but his heart went out on March 7, 2020. Mike died at the age of 64; He was buried a few days later on St. Patrick’s Day. John says his brother has spent 64 years more than any of us could hope for.

“For someone they loved to call ‘quack,’ my brother was the real deal, man,” John says.

And that’s the point. In a world with narrow limits of acceptable harm, there is something to be said for some good old-fashioned nonsense. Mike didn’t do what he did to get on TV or pump himself. I’ve done it right now. He did it to be at work. for the experience. And of course, to get one for everyone. That is why, with all due respect to Mr. Leonard and Mr. Ouimet, they have nothing of the true legend of Brooklyn.

Remember that this weekend. And when any strange development comes over the next few days, know that this is Mike Howie, winking at us all.

(Top image: Rusty Jarrett/Allsport via Getty)

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