Shooter of eagles
Most golf courses have dress codes, and Register always makes sure he has the proper attire, even to the point of overdressing. In addition, he respects the course.
“I don’t make a mess or leave a mess or do anything that would get course management upset with me,” he says. “I want the people who work at the golf course and the people I’ll play with to think well of truckers and trucking.”
Register, whose golf clubs ride between the passenger seat and the dash, says he won’t play “trash courses.” “I won’t play in pastures; I like good courses, I like the challenge.” A highly respected six handicapper, Register plays a tactical game. He keeps his driver in the bag, preferring to use his slightly shorter, but more controllable three wood off the tee.
When he has to take a 34-hour break, golf – often more than one round – is inevitable. If it’s too wet or cold to play golf, Register play his guitar.
“I take my guitar and 300-watt amp with me,” he says. “I’m never bored on the road, I’ll tell you that.”
Raised in the suburbs of Jacksonville, Fla., Register started playing golf when he was a little kid. “My dad played, and when he got a new set of clubs, we’d get to play with the old ones. And there was a small Par Three course near where we lived, and my parents would drop me and my brothers off there and let us play for hours. Through high school I lost some interest, got into skateboarding and surfing, but it came back to me in a big way and it’s never left me. It helped to have a girlfriend who work at a country club and got me a lot of free golf at that time.”
Even though the University of Florida is in Gainseville, 75 miles to the southwest of Jacksonville, Register took to wearing hats with the university’s famous logo – an alligator. He wore it so much people stopped using his real name, Thomas, and started calling him Gator. “It’s on everything except my CDL,” he says. “But it’ll end up there because I’m going to get it legally changed. Might as well, it’s my name; it’s what everybody knows me as.”
After school Register found himself in the landscaping business, and he stayed there until he was into his thirties. “I was getting burned out doing it, and I ran into a buddy who was a driver and he told me, ‘as much as you love playing golf, you should drive a truck and play nationwide and you won’t have to pay for the travel.’ That was enough for me.”
Register started with M.S. Carriers in 2000 and found he loved playing all over the country. “I came to Super Service, and they loved the idea that I played golf everywhere I went. As long as it doesn’t affect my work, and I make sure it doesn’t, I’m always planning where to play next. When I go back to the company corporate office, there are people asking me to show them my scorecards from around the country.”
Winter in the northern states slows Register down, but it doesn’t stop him. “Some courses up there stay open until Christmas. After that it’s southern golf for a few months. But I’ll play in any weather. I hit a drive one time in Wisconsin that went close to 450 yards. [Note: Tiger Woods' drives soar more than 300 yards regularly, but he can't get within 100 yards of that drive] I didn’t realize the course was frozen, and the ball just kept bouncing along the ice.”
These days Register lives in Middleburg on the outskirts of Jacksonville, and he’s a member of a local golf course. “It’s called The Ravines. It’s a tough course. When they say ravines, they mean it.” Register enjoys playing golf with a brother, Randy – better known, he says, as “Rattlesnake” – who lives in Jacksonville.
But golf may lure Register away from Florida. He says he may move to live near another of his brothers near Union, S.C. “Yeah, I’d like to live near him. There are five golf courses right near there, too.”