David Bruce: Golf Anecdotes

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Paula Creamer is named after her father, Paul Creamer. She is an honest golfer. In the Office Depot Championship golf tournament, her father asked her if she wanted to change the setup of her golf club bag because she would not need a couple of the clubs to play the last two holes of the tournament. She thought about it, agreed that it was a good idea, and they took out a couple of clubs and replaced them with a club that she ended up not using. She finished in 23rd place and won $11,859. Later that day, she and her father met with her agent and sponsors. They talked about the tournament and mentioned changing the setup of her golf club bag, and her agent told her, “Paula, you can’t do that!” She did not know that doing that was against the rules, but it very definitely is. She did the right thing: She telephoned the rules officials and told them what she had done. As a result, she ended up being disqualified from the tournament. Her father was embarrassed about suggesting that she change the setup of her golf club bag, but he was proud that she had done the right thing and told the rules officials what she had done.

Groucho Marx once made a hole-in-one while playing golf. Because he was a celebrity, the newspapers made a big deal out of it, and the Boston Globe ran a visual aid of three photographs — one of Groucho, and two others of Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, both big golf stars of the day. Appearing alongside the three photographs was the headline “Groucho joins the immortals.” The next day, Groucho played golf again, but this time he was followed by several members of the media. Because of all the attention, his golf game suffered and Groucho was many, many strokes above par. The next day the Boston Globe ran roughly the same visual aid, but a blank space appeared where Groucho’s photograph had been. This time the headline was “Groucho leaves the immortals.”

The great golf pro Walter Hagen ran into a problem on a Fort Worth, Texas golf course when he was playing for a championship: The sun was getting in his eyes. Seeing a young caddy wearing a cap with a sun visor — exactly what he needed just then — Mr. Hagen asked the caddy for the loan of the cap. The caddy, Bryon Nelson, gladly performed a good deed by lending it to him for the afternoon, and Mr. Hagen won the championship with it. The young caddy then devoted himself to playing golf and emulating Mr. Hagen, and he did amazingly well in pro golf tournaments — even finishing in the money 113 consecutive times.

Golfer Payne Stewart earned a one-stroke lead at Spyglass Hill, and he knew that rain was forecast for the next day: Sunday. If it rained and golfers could not play, then he would be declared winner of the tournament. A TV reporter asked Mr. Stewart his thoughts on the situation, and Mr. Stewart said all the right things, such as that he was hoping for good weather and that he wanted to win the tournament by playing all the holes, not through a rainout. After the TV cameras were gone, fellow golfer Peter Jacobsen asked Mr. Stewart what he really thought about the weather. Mr. Stewart grinned and exclaimed, “Rain, baby, rain!”

Even early in his career, golfer Sam Snead was able to drive the ball very well and very far. He once played Duke Gibson. On the first hole, Sam’s ball went 25 yards further than Duke’s ball, and Sam explained, “It must have hit a rock and bounced.” The same result occurred on the second hole, and the third, and the fourth, and on each hole Sam made the same “explanation.” An exasperated Duke finally asked Sam, “What the hell are you doing? Aiming at those damn rocks?”

In 1982, a golfer named Jack Murphy played a round of golf by himself in a course in Raleigh, North Carolina. He astonished himself by hitting a hole-in-one on the 5th hole. Unfortunately, the hole-in-one did not count because he was playing by himself. After he finished playing the game, Mr. Murphy went back to the 5th hole with a caddy. Once again, he hit a hole-in-one. Once again, the hole-in-one did not count — this time because it wasn’t recorded in an official game.

Jack Lemmon, and Chris, his son, played golf frequently. In one game both Jack and Chris hit their golf balls into a weedy ditch that was surrounded by signs that said, “BEWARE RATTLESNAKES.” Neither wanted to brave the rattlesnakes, so they left their golf balls there. Later, they saw a 10-year-old kid carrying all of the “BEWARE RATTLESNAKES” signs — and a bag of golf balls. Jack laughed and said, “There goes a future president.”

Nancy Lopez’ parents believed that she could be a good golfer even when she was very young. Her mother even gave up golf herself so that Nancy could have more time on the golf course being trained by her father. They simply couldn’t afford to have all three of them play golf. Her father built a floor-to-ceiling trophy case for her. For a long time, it displayed mainly dishes, but today it is not big enough to hold all of her trophies.

A friend once took TV broadcaster Jim Burke to Kansas City’s Hillcrest Country Club to play a round of golf, but Mr. Burke got off to a poor start. On the very first tee, he swung at the ball — and he missed. Then he adjusted his stand, took a swing at the ball — and he missed again. At this point, he told his friend, “Tough course!”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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