Jordan pays the county a golf visit

Derek Wingo (left) and former Chicago Bulls star and current Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan are all smiles after a round of golf at The Water’s Edge Country Club in August 2005. The current ESPN documentary “The Last Dance’’ features Jordan in his final year with the Bulls, a campaign that ended with Chicago capturing its sixth NBA championship in eight years (1991-1993, 1996-1998).

Those who are unfamiliar with or those who are in need of a refresher course on the basketball greatness of Michael Jordan are getting the opportunity to view the play of “His Airness’’ with the broadcast of the ESPN documentary, “The Last Dance.’’

The 10-part series, which began Sunday night and returns this weekend with episodes three and four, depicts Jordan’s final year with the Chicago Bulls, a campaign that ended with the franchise’s sixth NBA championship in eight years.

Back in August of 2005, Jordan, needing a place to engage in his passion for golf, found The Water’s Edge Country Club in eastern Franklin County. He made two visits to the course, playing nine holes each time.

Jordan was in need of a place to play while travelling with race teams he owned at the time which were competing in Virginia International Raceway (VIR) near Danville.

Needless to say, his sighting caused a commotion in Cool Branch, Penhook and Snow Creek.

Jordan, who is one of the world’s most-famous amateurs, played The Water’s Edge on a Thursday and a Friday (Aug. 25 and 26). A chosen opponent was former Franklin County prep star Matt Chandler, who was working at the club and competing as a professional player at the time.

Jordan, who reportedly took up the game during his college days at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Chandler went at it for nine holes from the course’s championship (gold) tees, according to News-Post archives.

“It wasn’t much to it. He (Jordan) came down with two other guys , I believe one of them was his bodyguard, and they wanted to play some golf. He asked me to play nine holes with him so I did,’’ Chandler told the News-Post several days after the match-up.

Chandler was coming off a third-place showing in the State Open. He gave Jordan’s game a five-star rating.

“He’s a good player and a nice guy. We had a good time. He picked at me the whole time and I picked at him a little bit,’’ Chandler said, adding that he didn’t spot Jordan any strokes.

Jordan toured the nine holes in even par (36 strokes).

There was at least one wager between the contestants.

“He birdied No. 9 and beat me out of 10 bucks. He’s a pretty clutch player I guess,’’ Chandler said.

While Jordan and Chandler were matching golf wits, there were others on the course, but the club tried to keep them clear of Jordan and his party.

“We cleared out (an area) around him. He didn’t want a whole lot of people around him,’’ Chandler said.

In the 15 years following the visit, plenty has changed for both Jordan and Chandler.

Jordan would enter the NBA’s executive world and make a playing comeback with the Washington Wizards, competing from 2001-2003. He has owned the Charlotte Hornets since 2010.

Chandler would leave the professional ranks and reclaim his amateur status. He has been a winner of many area tournaments and is a past three-time Virginia State Golf Association (VSGA) Mid-Amateur champion.

Ironically, Chandler captured the last of those titles at The Water’s Edge in 2016. He won the championships in a period of five years.

This past fall marked the 20th anniversary of Chandler’s win in the Group AAA state championships at Raspberry Falls in Leesburg. He won the title with a birdie on the final hole and helped guide FCHS to a runner-up team finish.

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