Soft­en­ing the Stare


Golf Digest Middle East - - Contents - WITH GUY YOCOM

Ray­mond Floyd on win­ning at Shin­necock, the art of tip­ping, and deal­ing with a cheater on the golf course (plus Bernie Mad­off ). WITH GUY YOCOM

What comes to mind when I think of the 1986 U.S. Open at Shin­necock? For one thing, the car ride over on the Sun­day be­fore the tour­na­ment started. Ear­lier that day, I’d lost at Westch­ester af­ter shar­ing the 54-hole lead. All my ca­reer I was a good closer, but this time I played lousy and lost. It was a 2½-hour drive out to the end of Long Is­land, and it started out quiet. Then my wife, Maria, who un­til her pass­ing in 2012 was my part­ner, my team­mate, the love of my life and my ev­ery­thing, starts ask­ing ques­tions.

“So what hap­pened today?” she said.“It was just one of those things,” I said. “I blew it. It hap­pens.” “Why did you blow it?” she said. I said, “Can we just for­get about it and move on?” Maria said, “We’re not go­ing to for­get it. We’ve got the U.S. Open this week. What if you’re lead­ing there? What are you go­ing to do?

I want to know why you just blew that tour­na­ment.” I don’t have a good an­swer. I’m fum­ing. It’s si­lent for a while. But just as I start to cool off, Maria pours it on. “You never play well in the

U.S. Open. What’s the prob­lem?” That did it. I stopped the car in the emer­gency lane of the Long Is­land Ex­press­way, and we went at it. As cars screamed past, Maria and I screamed at each other. Our three chil­dren and nanny were in the back seat, cry­ing. It was aw­ful. Af­ter we got un­der­way again, I spent the rest of the drive do­ing some se­ri­ous soul-search­ing. Which was what Maria had in mind to be­gin with.

my u. s. open “prob­lem” was what the USGA did to the cour­ses. The set­ups al­ways seemed to take cer­tain types of play­ers out of the game. Oak­mont in 1973, if you took one step off the green you were in rough above your an­kles. That took good short-game play­ers—play­ers like me—out of the game. Peb­ble Beach in 1982, same thing and more, fair­ways choked off and other non­sense so it was no longer a links course. Winged Foot in 1974, for­get it—it was im­pos­si­ble ev­ery­where. Ev­ery year it was some­thing, the USGA tak­ing these mag­nif­i­cent cour­ses and turn­ing them into hor­ri­ble ver­sions of what they were meant to be. Go­ing into 1986, my best in 21 tries was a tie for sixth. Bad set­ups and a bad at­ti­tude equals bad play.

no­body seemed to know any­thing about Shin­necock. It hadn’t hosted a U.S. Open in 90 years. The morn­ing af­ter our ad­ven­ture on the Long Is­land Ex­press­way, I played a prac­tice round with our kids tag­ging along. When we got back to the rental house, Maria asked, a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sively, “So how do you like the course?” I said, “It’s the best course I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s so good, they couldn’t mess it up.” It was bru­tally dif­fi­cult—the fair­ways nar­row and the rough tall. But there wasn’t a sin­gle gim­mick. It didn’t favour short hit­ters or long ones, high-ball hit­ters or low, draw-type play­ers or faders. You could hit any club you wanted off the tees; an iron wasn’t forced into your hands. At that U.S. Open, Greg Nor­man and Lee Trevino con­tended, and their play­ing styles were com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Shin­necock favours one type of player: a good one who’s on his game. And I was play­ing well.

the first round was the mean­est weather I’d seen at a U.S. Open. When I teed off just af­ter 8 a.m., it was cold, rain­ing and the wind was blow­ing 40 miles per hour. Um­brel­las were turn­ing in­side out. I hit five greens in reg­u­la­tion and shot a 75 that could have been 85. Bob Tway led with an even-par 70, which was phe­nom­e­nal. You know how your mind wan­ders to un­usual things in your life? When I look back at that round, I some­times think of Dow Fin­ster­wald.

Here’s why. When I was 14 and grow­ing up on the Army base at Fort Bragg, N.C., we’d play ev­ery day on the two cour­ses there. My dad, L.B. Floyd, was head golf pro. Wait­ing to tee off, I looked over at the prac­tice green and saw Dow Fin­ster­wald, a play­ing pro who was serv­ing his time in the mil­i­tary. Dow, who went on to win 11 tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing the 1958 PGA Cham­pi­onship, was chip­ping from a big pile of shiny new Dunlop balls. When we made the turn, I no­ticed Dow was still there prac­tic­ing his short game. And when we came off 18, he was still there chip­ping. It made a huge im­pres­sion on me. From then on, I de­voted 50 per­cent of my prac­tice time to the short game, and it saved me count­less times, most no­tably that first round at Shin­necock.

i hung around and got closer to the lead. On Sun­day, as I walked to the 10th tee, I looked in the gallery and saw Maria. She said later that when she saw the look on my face, she knew I was go­ing to win. She called it The Stare, a fo­cused ex­pres­sion that told her I was in the zone. It was an odd sen­sa­tion. Ev­ery­thing was vivid. My step felt lighter. Watch­ing my­self on a USGA film re­cently, it looked like I was strut­ting. Ev­ery shot I faced felt like a fore­gone con­clu­sion, like it had al­ready hap­pened and all I had to do was swing. It’s such a won­der­ful feel­ing. When I birdied the 11th hole, I was briefly in a nineway tie for the lead. Any­thing could have hap­pened, but I felt like I was in con­trol.

the fel­low from the usga who showed me that film kept point­ing out that I missed a lot of very mak­able birdie putts. It’s true. It re­minded me how lit­tle stress I felt. When putts aren’t fall­ing, the ten­dency is to get a lit­tle ex­as­per­ated. But it was like some­one was pat­ting me on the shoul­der and say­ing, “Don’t worry, you’ll make some putts.” And I did. On the day, I shot 66. I made no bo­geys. That’s hard to do.

at fort bragg, there weren’t al­ways kids around to play with, so I’d play with the en­listed men. There was a Sgt. Smith, a left­hander ev­ery­one called Smitty. As I grew up, it got to where Smitty couldn’t beat me, so I started play­ing him left-handed with a rental set out of the shop. Pretty soon I was beat­ing him that way, too. Poor Smitty. I took a lot of dimes and quar­ters from him.

golf wasn’t my only love. I was a base­ball pitcher. My dad had pitched some, and he brought me along. He’d catch me. I’d hit a spot low and away, and he’d say, “No good” and move his glove two inches. When I grad­u­ated from high school in 1960, the Cleve­land In­di­ans of­fered me a $25,000 sign­ing bonus, which back then was sub­stan­tial. I passed—I was bet­ter at golf than base­ball— but I loved keep­ing my hand in. In 1969, when I was still sin­gle and liv­ing in Chicago, I hung around the Cubs a lot and some­times even threw bat­ting prac­tice. Ernie Banks, Billy Wil­liams, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenk­ins, that was a hell of a team. Randy Hund­ley, the catcher, asked me to throw to him once so he could work out an is­sue with his tim­ing. My fast­ball had a lot of move­ment, which an­noyed Randy. “Throw it straight or I’ll get some­body else,” he said. “I can’t help it,” I said. So he got some­body else.

dur­ing a western open one year, a buddy of mine from Cincin­nati showed up. He was a huge horse bet­tor and had a lot of con­nec­tions. “Come to the track with me this af­ter­noon,” he said. “There’s a race that’s as good as over. I know who’s go­ing to win.” So I went with him to Hawthorne Race Course. He handed me a pro­gram and said, “Look for Tan­go­hoochie. That’s who we’re bet­ting on.” I looked and told him I didn’t see a horse by that name. He said, “Tan­go­hoochie isn’t the name of the horse, it’s the name of the jockey.” We found the horse with Tan­go­hoochie aboard, waited at the bet­ting win­dow un­til the last minute, then put down a bun­dle at 20-1. Our horse won by eight lengths. The own­ers didn’t show up to claim him. When they did the manda­tory urine test­ing, they found the horse loaded to the ears with drugs. As for Tan­go­hoochie, he got sat down for us­ing an elec­tri­cal shock­ing de­vice.

guys like my cincin­nati buddy were hang­out peo­ple more than close friends. In Las Ve­gas, I had great re­la­tion­ships with Moe Dalitz, Lou Rosanova, Ash Res­nick and men like them. They knew what I did for a liv­ing, but I didn’t need or want to know ev­ery­thing they did. Most of the im­por­tant peo­ple in the old Las Ve­gas were re­puted to have mob ties. I knew they weren’t ex­actly Emily Post. But one-on-one, they were smart, de­cent, well­man­nered and fun to be with.

here’s the lee trevino gam­bling story again, with a lit­tle more de­tail. In 1965, I was com­ing off a win at the St. Paul Open and had gone down to Teni­son Park in Dal­las for a lit­tle ac­tion. As I played, I no­ticed this old man watch­ing in the back­ground. It was Ti­tanic Thomp­son, the leg­endary gam­bler. He in­tro­duced him­self and said, “You ought to quit the tour and come with me. You can make a lot more money in the games I’ll set up than you’ll ever make in those tour­na­ments.” I told him I was hon­oured but that play­ing the PGA Tour was all I’d wanted to do my whole life. Then he said, “Have you heard of a guy from around here named Lee Trevino?” I said I hadn’t. Ti­tanic said, “Pretty good player. He used to work on the driv­ing range


here. He’s over in El Paso now. How would you like to play him for a lot of money?” I told him I’d play any­body I’d never heard of for money, any­where.

Two days later, I’m in El Paso. The stakes were ar­ranged. I’d put up $1,000 of my money. Ti­tanic and the guy who drove me out there put up $1,000 apiece, so all to­gether there’s $3,000 at stake. It would be a sin­gle 18-hole bet, medal play walk-in. No presses, just a straight bet, low score wins. Trevino didn’t put up any­thing. He had back­ers and would get a per­cent­age if he won.

The first day, I shot 65, and he shot 63. I was down $1,000. The course, Hori­zon Hills, was hard as a rock with a green­side bunker maybe ev­ery other hole and no fair­way bunkers at all. Lee re­ally knew that course. I wanted to play him again. The next day I shot 64, and he shot 63. Now I’m down $2,000. I said, “I want him again.” The guy who took me out there pleaded, “Let’s go over to El Paso Coun­try Club. That’s a bet­ter course for you.” I said, “No, I’ve never been there be­fore. I’m get­ting to know this course. I know I can take him.”

The third day, we play for $2,000, dou­ble or noth­ing. We’re tied com­ing to 18. I can see it like it was yes­ter­day. It was a par 5, and we’re both on in two. He’s 20 feet away, and I’m 18 feet. When he hit his putt, it’s not half­way to the hole when I thought, It’s in. It just had that look. It hits the hole, spins more than 300 de­grees and sits on the edge. If you know com­mon Bermuda greens, you know balls never stay on the edge. In­vari­ably they fall in. Trevino went up to the hole and waited a lit­tle longer than the stip­u­lated time. He put his shadow over the putt to make the grass lie down so the ball would drop. The whole time I’m read­ing my putt, know­ing his ball would fall. But some­how it stayed on the edge.

Now I’ve got an 18-footer to win. I hit that putt and drilled it dead cen­ter. It would have gone in a thim­ble. I was back to even for the three days. Af­ter I picked my ball out of the hole, I spoke Span­ish for the first time. “Adios,” I said.

With that, when Lee came on tour, I hon­estly didn’t think he’d make it. He couldn’t hit the ball high enough to clear a one-story club­house. He could move the ball in­cred­i­bly well, but I saw prob­lems in store with el­e­vated greens and deep bunkers. Need­less to say, he adapted. I was wrong. when i be­gan in­vest­ing

with Bernie Mad­off, some close friends around Palm Beach, hedge fund and fi­nance peo­ple, warned me to be care­ful. “No­body knows what this guy does or how he does it,” they said. “If you de­cide to go with him, don’t in­vest a lot.” My son Ray­mond Jr. is an eq­ui­ties trader in Con­necti­cut. He told me, “Dad, you can’t put money with this guy. You never do that if you don’t even know what he does.”

I in­vested any­way. Mad­off lived seven or eight houses down from me. The re­turns were ex­cel­lent. Not in­sane, but steady. More­over, he was like a bank. You could with­draw at any time. For six or seven years, I did very well with him. Even­tu­ally I met Bernie. Had lunch with him on my boat with some other peo­ple. He seemed like a sweet­heart, and his wife was in­cred­i­ble. Then it ended. Overnight, ev­ery­thing I had with him was gone. I took a huge hit, but I also was very for­tu­nate. The re­turns I made with him over the years mostly com­pen­sated for the one big loss, so that on bal­ance I wound up close to even. Many peo­ple not only lost what they had in­vested but had to pro­vide resti­tu­tion for what they’d made in the past. That’s where the most se­ri­ous tragedies were. If I saw Mad­off today, I’m not sure what I’d do. Punch him in the face, maybe. What else could I do? He was a thief and a crim­i­nal. take a small-town kid

from North Carolina, drop him overnight onto the PGA Tour and glam­orous places like Los An­ge­les and Las Ve­gas, and he’s go­ing to want to live a lit­tle. I was sin­gle, mod­er­ately suc­cess­ful and ea­ger to soak it all in. Race­tracks, night­clubs, sport­ing events—I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence it all. I ran with Joe Na­math and Paul Hor­nung. The Rat Pack guys, like Dean Martin, who was a good friend and great guy. Clint East­wood and I ended up play­ing to­gether in 23 Peb­ble Beach Pro-Ams. You learn a lot be­ing around peo­ple like that. How to dress, get a good restau­rant ta­ble, who to tip, and how much. How to earn and main­tain friend­ships. And most of all, how to en­joy life. here’s what i learned about tip­ping. First, there’s no such thing as over­tip­ping. That’s a myth. Tip at the limit of what you can af­ford, keep­ing in mind that valets and maître d’ will sense im­me­di­ately if you’re sin­cere about try­ing to take care of them, which is the most im­por­tant thing. Sec­ond, pre­pare your tips in ad­vance. Fold a few bills neatly so they can be pressed into a palm on short no­tice. Learn to do it dur­ing a hand­shake; it’s not hard. Never show off, and never put the per­son on the spot. Next, if you’re at a golf club, al­ways tip the cad­diemas­ter, be­cause he’s the one who makes things hap­pen. Be­fore Au­gusta Na­tional per­mit­ted us to bring our cad­dies, I made a point of tak­ing care of the cad­diemas­ter, the late Fred­die Ben­nett. Mag­i­cal things hap­pened as a re­sult. For places that have a no-tip­ping pol­icy, do your best to ig­nore it, though you didn’t hear it from me. Fi­nally, for the peo­ple who don’t cus­tom­ar­ily re­ceive tips, drop them a card at the end of the year with some­thing in­side they’ll ap­pre­ci­ate. i’m at the hous­ton open,

early 1960s. On the first day, first hole, first shot, the guy I was play­ing with ric­o­cheted his ball off a tree and into a swamp. Lost ball. Ex­cept that when we get up there, the guy, who shall re­main name­less be­cause it was more than 50 years ago and you wouldn’t re­mem­ber him any­way, says, “Got it! Here it is!” and points down to a ball in the rough. I said, “There’s no way that’s your ball. I watched it go into the swamp.” Even the mar­shal stand­ing there agreed with me, but the guy said, “No, this is my ball. See the mark­ings?” The ball in the rough had his unique mark­ings, but I wasn’t buy­ing it. I then asked him a very sim­ple ques­tion: “If that’s your ball and it’s your first shot of the day, where are the other two from the sleeve?” The guy turned bright red and started stam­mer­ing, guilt ev­ery­where. He was caught. But he stuck to his story. When I called in a tour of­fi­cial to try to pro­tect the rest of the field, the of­fi­cial said, “I’m sorry, but we have to side with the player.” my hero was arnold palmer.

When I came on tour, any ques­tion I had on an im­por­tant mat­ter, per­sonal or pro­fes­sional, I’d take it to Arnold, and he’d ad­vise me like an older brother. At the 1965 Mas­ters, I showed up in a pair of madras pants. They were the “in” thing, and I thought they looked sharp as could be, but Arnold came over to me in the locker room and said, “That just isn’t the right look for here.” I thanked him and then changed. I loved that guy. only maria knew this about me,

and I’ve kept it quiet un­til now, but the truth is, I never en­joyed the crowds. And I didn’t like in­ter­act­ing with the me­dia, which I felt were dis­hon­est. One thing I didn’t mind was proams. I re­ally liked help­ing am­a­teurs and al­ways fol­lowed up with let­ters, be­cause it was vi­tal to the tour. But the other stuff ir­ri­tated me, and af­ter 50 years of do­ing the same dance ev­ery week, I was glad when it ended. I like be­ing alone. I’m one of those peo­ple who can be alone but not lonely. Today I


fish, hunt quail and bow-hunt deer with a very small cir­cle of friends. Ev­ery two weeks, I take my boat down to the Ba­hamas, where it’s just me, my girl­friend, Jen­nifer, and the fish. The soli­tude and pri­vate life are what I worked for all those years. my first ma­jor vic­tory

was the 1969 PGA Cham­pi­onship. All week, pro­test­ers had been us­ing Gary Player as a spring­board to demon­strate against apartheid in South Africa. On Satur­day, as Gary and Jack Nick­laus were pre­par­ing to putt on the 10th green, a guy burst from be­hind the ropes and charged across the green. Un­for­tu­nately for him, Jack was stand­ing be­tween him and Gary. From the 10th fair­way, I watched Jack raise his put­ter with both hands, like he was ready to cold-cock the guy. The sight of Jack ap­par­ently gave the guy sec­ond thoughts, be­cause he went to the ground with a sec­ond-base slide. Se­cu­rity was on him within sec­onds. The amaz­ing thing was Gary’s play that week. Amid all the chaos—peo­ple had thrown ice in his face and heck­led him un­mer­ci­fully—he fin­ished one shot be­hind me. i didn’t be­lieve in des­tiny

un­til Ken Ven­turi won the 1964 U.S. Open. I was paired with him for the fi­nal 36 holes, and how he fin­ished, I’ll never know. It was the hottest day I’ve ever seen. Even peo­ple sit­ting down in the gallery were pass­ing out. By the end of the morn­ing round, Ken was in bad shape. In the af­ter­noon, to­ward the end, he didn’t know where he was. Part of the mir­a­cle was how he kept hit­ting the ball flush and pretty long, too. When he holed the fi­nal putt and I picked the ball out of the hole for him—he was too dazed and ex­hausted to do it—I had tears in my eyes. Some things are just meant to be. my sec­ond pga cham­pi­onship

came at South­ern Hills in 1982. We all have lit­tle per­sonal feats we’re se­cretly proud of, trivia we might tell our friends over a drink. My favourite hap­pened that year dur­ing the first round, when I shot 63. Start­ing at the sixth hole, I made nine con­sec­u­tive 3s. I don’t think any­one else has done that in a ma­jor. Some of the big ac­com­plish­ments, peo­ple have to wring out of me. But that one, I brag about. go­ing into the 1976 mas­ters,

my record there was mostly lousy. The prob­lem was the par 5s. I couldn’t hold the greens with my 3-wood or 1-iron when I went for them in two. Not many play­ers could, be­cause this was be­fore the dis­tance ex­plo­sion. The greens were sand-based Bermuda, harder than your head, and hard to hold. At the 15th, the big dan­ger wasn’t the water short, it was the water long. The ball would hit the green, take a huge bounce and go into the pond at 16. I made a ridicu­lous num­ber of dou­ble bo­geys that way. I needed a club that would hit the ball higher. I went to a club­maker named Bert Dargie and asked if he had any 5-wood club­heads. “No­body makes 5-woods for men,” he said. “I have some we make for women.” I took five of them back to Florida and worked on them. Two of them broke when I hit them. But I fi­nally got one just right, and it be­came an amaz­ing weapon at Au­gusta. I just tore up the par 5s, played them in 14 un­der. I shot 17 un­der and tied Nick­laus’ record of 271. the last round

I played was at Shin­necock Hills last Septem­ber. I’m a mem­ber, and we played the mem­ber tees. It was not ex­actly a re­play of 1986, and there were a lot of re­minders that I’m 75 years old. I’d miss a shot short, leav­ing my­self the eas­i­est pitch-an­drun you’ve ever seen. I’d chunk that one, then gig­gle and move along, en­joy­ing the day with friends. Noth­ing about my game is the same. But I did shoot 72 that day. I might even have won a few bets.

ray floyd poses with the tro­phy and his fam­ily af­ter win­ning the 1986 u. s open held in june 1986 at sin­necock hills

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