Golf anecdotes from more than half-century following the game
I've been around golf since the mid-1950s when I was a caddie at Inglewood Golf Club in Kenmore earning $2 a round plus tip. More than a half-century later, I'm a retired sportswriter. Golf produces divots and wonderful anecdotes. Here are some of my favorites:
Special to The Seattle Times
I've been around golf since the mid-1950s when I was a caddie at Inglewood Golf Club in Kenmore earning $2 a round plus tip. More than a half-century later, I'm a retired sportswriter.
Golf produces divots and wonderful anecdotes. Here are some of my favorites:
• I was covering the 2011 Washington Open Invitational and chatting with a spectator, who turned out to be Broadmoor Golf Club member Gary J. Taylor. He told me:
"I was playing Broadmoor one day in 1994 and I looked around and was surprised to see Byron Nelson (then 82) and his wife playing the course. Byron had won the 1945 Seattle Open at Broadmoor and he was in town (for his stepson's wedding) and wanted to play the course again. What stuck in my mind was that his wife was teeing the ball up for him and he was hitting from the red tees.
"I thought, 'If Byron Nelson can play from the red tees, why can't other people move up to where they belong?' "
Nelson made history at Broadmoor in 1945 by shooting 259 (62-68-63-66) for four rounds. It stood as a PGA record for 10 years until Mike Souchak shot 257 in the Texas Open.
• I was playing in 1998 at the public San Juan Golf Club outside Friday Harbor, and my pickup partner was Lee Harman, a former Oregon State basketball player who is a Hollywood makeup artist.
Harman was on the island for the filming of "Practical Magic," starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman.
On the fourth hole, he showed me that the ball he was using was marked "CR" for identification.
"Those aren't your initials," I said. "Why is your ball marked CR?"
"Christopher Reeve," he said, the actor who was paralyzed by a fall off a horse in 1995 and died in 2004. "I worked on some movies with him. Wonderful guy. One day after he was paralyzed in that horse-riding accident, I was on a golf course having a terrible round. I was just getting mad and not having any fun. Then it occurred to me, 'Christopher is paralyzed and here I am on a beautiful golf course on a nice day and I'm too dumb to appreciate it.' Since then, I've marked my golf balls 'CR' and I've enjoyed golf a whole lot more."
• Walter Estby of Mount Vernon played golf past his 100th birthday.
One year in the late 1990s when he was in his 90s, Estby flew to Phoenix for a golf clinic and went to rent a car. They wouldn't rent to him because he was too old.
So Estby flew home to Mount Vernon, got in his car, and drove back to Phoenix.
• When K.C. Anderson was running Bellevue Municipal in the 1990s, a Bellevue city official called him during an unseasonably wet and gloomy spring demanding to know why golf rounds and revenues were down.
Anderson calmly replied, "Does your office have a window?"
After making his point with the remark, Anderson reprogrammed the cash register in the pro shop so that the weather conditions were noted along with the day's totals. The city official quit complaining.
• Marty Mehl and Craig Bruya, both Sahalee Country Club members at the time, were playing Bandon (Ore.) Dunes about seven years ago and both hit splendid shots on the uphill par-3 second hole.
They couldn't see how their shots landed so they walked to the green and found one ball 2 feet from the cup and the other ball in the cup.
Mehl's caddie went to the cup and declared, "That's you!"
Bruya asked Mehl, "What are you playing?"
"Titleist 2," Mehl replied, referring the new Pro V I he had taken from its package on the tee.
"I'm playing the same ball," Bruya said.
The next question was whether either man had marked his ball. The answer was "no."
A few holes later, it occurred to Mehl that he should have picked the ball out of the hole, put it away and later examined it with a magnifying glass.
"That was the first hole I had used it and maybe we could have determined if it had been hit more than once," he said.
The story is part of Bandon lore, and Mehl has gone back to the resort and overheard the story being told.
These days, when Mehl is asked if he has made a hole-in-one he has an unusual answer — "Yes — one and a half."
• Dale Johnson, considered the founding father of the Northwest section of the PGA, died in 2005 at age 80.
Johnson was a former reporter and a wonderful storyteller. One of his best stories was about the time he tried to make the University of Washington golf team.
Johnson told a reporter for the regional PGA publication, ForeWard Press, in 1991 that he was playing in a team-qualifier tournament on the now-defunct nine-hole course on the Husky campus when his shot on the ninth hole flew over the green, bounced off concrete and into an building where it came to rest on the desk of football coach Ralph "Pest" Welch.
"At that time, balls were hard to come by and I only had a few, so I went to get the ball," Johnson said. Welch asked what he was doing and Johnson explained that he was in a tournament trying to make the golf team. Noting that the shot had landed on the desk, Welch looked at Johnson and replied, "Well, son, you're NOT going to make the team."
• Some Tacoma Golf and Country Club members volunteered as caddies during the 2007 U.S. Junior Girls' Championship. One of them, Michael Hitt, toted the bag of Haley Sanders, 16, of Rogers, Ark., who survived until the quarterfinals. Hitt joked to friends, "I finally found a woman who will listen to me."
Hitt said his wife, Rosemarie, responded to his statement by saying: "Don't get used to it. After the tournament, things are going back to normal."
• I covered the 1996 Nike Tour visit to Indian Summer Country Club in Olympia where protesters outside the gate on the last day used drums, noisemakers and chants to disrupt golfers on the first hole. They said they were protesting the exploitation of overseas labor by Nike.
Jeff Gove from Seattle missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the hole.
I remember talking to him later and saying, "The protesters only affected that one hole."
I still remember his answer: "What if I had made that birdie and had got something going?"
He had a point.