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Wedding ring comes full-circle for Duluth couple

Phil Davidson of Duluth lost his wedding band at a Wisconsin golf course in 2008. It remained there until a teenage boy found it this spring and returned it to Davidson earlier this month. Davidson surprised his wife by wearing it Saturday, which happened to be their 12th wedding anniversary. (Clint Austin / / 3
After six years on a Wisconsin golf course, the diamond settings on Phil Davidson’s wedding band were caked with dirt. Davidson had the ring cleaned before wearing it to surprise his wife, Becky, on Saturday. (Clint Austin / / 3
Becky Davidson is happy on her 12th anniversary Saturday after her husband, Phil, surprised her by wearing the wedding band he lost six years ago on a Wisconsin golf course. (Photo by Josh Parks) 3 / 3

Becky Davidson received a nice surprise on her wedding anniversary Saturday evening. But it was something she knew like the back of her hand.

Or maybe her husband’s hand.

For the first time in six years, Phil Davidson of Duluth was wearing his wedding band on Saturday. He surreptitiously had slipped it on late Friday night. He had it all planned.

Saturday marked the couple’s 12th anniversary. Phil’s gold wedding band with its five diamonds had been missing since 2008, when he lost it while golfing.

“I would always joke with him through the years: ‘Remember how you lost your wedding ring — golfing?’ ” Becky said.

How Phil lost and eventually found the ring is a tale of sunscreen, a sliced tee shot, persistence and coincidence.

Phil, 34, had lost the wedding band while playing a round of golf at a country club in Neillsville, Wis. He and Becky go there almost every summer for a family reunion.

Phil had taken the ring and his golf cap off so he could apply sunscreen on the first tee. Hurried to the tee for his first drive, he left his cap and ring on the back of his golf cart. He sliced the drive into the rough just off the fairway.

But he forgot to put his cap and ring back on as his foursome left the tee. A golfer in a following foursome found Phil’s cap and returned it to him, but Phil didn’t give the ring another thought.

He played 18 holes that day and realized that evening his ring was missing. He and Becky and others later returned to the golf course and spent an hour looking for the ring. No luck.

Becky, he said, wasn’t necessarily teed off about his losing the ring. But she seemed a little quiet on the ride back to Duluth, Phil said.

Once home, he made a flier about the lost ring and sent it to the Neillsville Country Club. A lot of golfers must have sliced tee shots on that first hole, but none of them saw the sparkle of those diamonds in the rough.

Every year when the couple returned to the golf course, Phil would ask if anyone had found his ring. Nobody had. But he held out hope.

“I always knew I was going to get it back,” said Phil, who owns Davidson Creative, a graphic design studio in Canal Park. “I didn’t really know when.”

When he paid his greens fees at the course earlier this month, he again asked the clerk if anyone had turned in a wedding band. No, she said. But a man who happened to be going out the door turned around, Phil said, and told him someone had found a ring a few weeks before.

“I gave him my business card and said I’d be there for a few hours,” Phil said.

Another man walked up to him on the first tee. The man asked Phil to describe the ring, which he did.

“He said, ‘Yep, that’s it,’ ” Phil said.

The man’s grandson, Cody Holman of Neillsville, had found the ring this past spring.

In a telephone interview Sunday, Cody, 15, said he had been walking to a nearby tee box at the golf course when he noticed something shiny in the grass.

“I thought it was a pop tab,” Cody said. “I was going to pick it up and saw it was a ring.”

He held onto it, hoping to hear who had lost it.

Phil Davidson contacted Cody and sent him an unsolicited cash reward. Soon the ring was on its way back to Phil. He took delivery of the ring Aug. 13. The diamond settings were packed with dirt. He had the ring cleaned and waited until the couple’s anniversary on Saturday to spring the surprise on Becky.

Phil wore the ring all day Saturday, but Becky didn’t notice it. They were with friends in the Twin Cities.

“It was getting close to midnight, and I wanted her to learn about it on our anniversary,” Phil said.

As the clock ticked, the friends all were playing cards, and all were giving Becky hints. Phil was doing his part.

“He was talking with his hands a lot,” Becky said.

Finally, she noticed.

“I hit him,” Becky said. “I said, ‘No way.’ ”

At first, she thought maybe he had had a replacement ring made just like the old one. Then her husband told her the whole story.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Becky said. “It’s just crazy.”