the days be­fore there were au­to­graphs

Golf Digest Middle East - - Play Your Best Competition Slug By Firstname Lastn - by dan jenk­ins

W hen did so many urchins, scamps and ras­cals start turn­ing up in the gal­leries of golf tour­na­ments? That’s one ques­tion. An­other is, when did they start claw­ing and beg­ging for an au­to­graph from any per­son who bore the slight­est re­sem­blance to a tour­ing pro?

I dis­tinctly re­mem­ber a time when I was the only urchin, scamp or ras­cal in the gal­leries. It be­gan when I was 11 years old and was taken by golf- nut rel­a­tives to Colo­nial Coun­try Club and let loose on the 1941 U. S. Open, where I got mad that Craig Wood won in­stead of Ben Ho­gan or By­ron Nel­son, the home­town­ers.

But I didn’t con­sider my­self an urchin, scamp or ras­cal. I’d been play­ing golf since I was 8 and had learned that the game was a civilised, dig­ni­fied sport. If any­body had hollered “You da man!” or “Get in the hole!” he’d have been ar­rested for dis­turb­ing the peace.

My education con­tin­ued as fol­lows:

As a 14-year- old, I was taken to Lake­wood Coun­try Club in Dal­las to watch By­ron Nel­son win the Texas Victory Open.

As a 15-year- old, I took my­self to Dal­las Coun­try Club in 1945 to watch Sam Snead win the Dal­las Open.

Again in ’45, I went the en­tire 72 holes in Fort Worth, watch­ing By­ron win the Glen Gar­den Open, his 18th victory in that fan­ci­ful year.

Then in 1946, as a grownup 16-year- old with a car, I watched Ho­gan win twice. First at the in­au­gu­ral Colo­nial Na­tional In­vi­ta­tion in May, and again in Septem­ber at the Dal­las In­vi­ta­tional at Brook Hol­low Golf Club.

I roll those cred­its for a cou­ple of rea­sons.

It’s to say that in all of my ex­po­sure to tour­na­ment golf I never once saw an urchin, scamp, ras­cal or teenager on the course, in­clud­ing me, plead for a golf ball from a pro. And sec­ond, I never once saw an adult ask a com­peti­tor for an au­to­graph.

It just wasn’t done back then. At least not in my neck of the woods.

Ap­plause from the crowds was re­served for a very good golf shot. Most of the fans were recre­ational golfers and ob­vi­ously more knowl­edge­able about the game than many in to­day’s throngs.

Also, there were no stand­ing

ova­tions for play­ers you’ve never heard of sim­ply be­cause they walked up on a green.

“Come on Bren­dan, you can do it!” Who?

What changed this peace­ful world?

The usual sus­pects, is my guess. Ho­gan, to be­gin with. The game had needed a larger- than- life fig­ure since Bobby Jones re­tired. Then TV. Fol­lowed by Arnold Palmer. The com­bi­na­tion of TV and Arnold Palmer. Jack Nick­laus. The dy­nasty of Jack Nick­laus. More me­dia at­ten­tion to the ma­jors. Es­pe­cially the Mas­ters. Growth of new cour­ses— a coun­try club for ev­ery in­come level. Ad­vances in equip­ment. Cor­po­rate spon­sors and the in­cred­i­ble ex­plo­sion of prize money. And, yes, a guy named Tiger Woods.

Full dis­clo­sure: In my teens, after watch­ing all that tour­na­ment golf, I did have fleet­ing thoughts of try­ing to be­come a tour­ing pro, but I quickly re­alised it re­quired more prac­tice than it did fun­filled gam­bling with friends and thieves, plus my game didn’t travel well.

So I changed my ma­jor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.