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For the Love of Golf
An A-to-Z Primer for Golf Fans of All Ages
By Frederick C. Klein, Mark Anderson
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2005 Mark Anderson
All rights reserved.
"A" is for St. Andrews, Where Scotsmen with crooks Invented the game and Put rules on the books.
GAMES INVOLVING STICKS AND BALLS DATE TO ROMAN TIMES, but the one that evolved into the modern game of golf was developed by Scotsmen on the duneland along the North Sea near the city of Edinburgh. One of the earliest golfing groups was formed in the middle 18th century in the seaside town of St. Andrews. It became the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which formulated the first set of rules for the sport in 1754 and administered them internationally for many years thereafter. The Old Course at St. Andrews, still the R&A's headquarters, is no mere relic. Lengthened to accommodate the modern game, it's one of a half dozen courses that take turns hosting the British Open, one of the sport's four annual major tournaments.
"B" is for Ballesteros, Who sprayed many a drive, But slashed out of the rough To keep his hopes alive.
SEVERIANO BALLESTEROS is an ex-caddie from Pedrena, Spain, who sparked a European golf revival in the late seventies. He was often erratic off the tee, but his ability to scramble was legendary and helped him to win 65 tournaments worldwide, including three British Opens (in 1979, 1984, and 1988) and two Masters (in 1980 and 1983). A fierce competitor, he led the European team to parity with the United States in the Ryder Cup, golf's premier international team event.
Another European golfer making a strong mark on the game is ANIKA SORENSTAM, from Sweden. She's the best female player of the current era. She has won the Ladies Professional Golf Association's (LPGA) Player of the Year Award seven times in her first 11 years on tour
"C" is for Casper, and Crenshaw, And Carner, JoAnne. Their trophy collections Would fill a large van.
BILLY CASPER posted 51 wins during a 20-year career (1956–1975) on the PGA Tour, the most memorable being his come-from-behind victory over Arnold Palmer in the 1966 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.
Texas-born BEN CRENSHAW showed a deft hand with a putter when he captured Masters titles in 1984 and 1995.
JOANNE GUNDERSON CARNER was one of the best female amateurs ever, winning five U.S. Amateur crowns from 1957 through 1968 before a long and brilliant pro career. A large, hearty woman nicknamed "Big Momma" in her later years, she was a favorite of both fans and competitors.
"D" is for Demaret. His wardrobe had blues, Greens, yellows, and reds, And bright pastel hues.
JIMMY DEMARET was famous for his peacock's wardrobe, which included hundreds of sweaters, slacks, and pairs of cleats. A genial former nightclub singer, he also entertained at many golfing parties, both official and impromptu. He shone on the course as well during the forties and fifties, winning — among other things — three Masters tournaments, in 1940, 1947, and 1950.
"E" is for eagle, Golf's most famous score. Gene Sarazen's double Let him play one day more.
Jaunty GENE SARAZEN was a frequent champion in the twenties and thirties, when professional golf was just taking hold. In 1935, during the final round of the second Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, he trailed Craig Wood by three shots with four holes to go. But on the 485-yard, par-4 15th hole, Sarazen made up all three with one swing, hitting a 220-yard, 4-wood shot onto the green and into the cup for a double-eagle 2. That forced a playoff the next day, which Sarazen won. The attention that the miracle shot brought to The Masters helped to make it an important event.
"F" is for "fore!" Meaning you'd better duck, Because if you don't, You're pressing your luck!
"G" is for the green jacket, The Masters champ's prize. It always looks stylish, No matter what size.
THE MASTERS TOURNAMENT BEGAN IN 1934 as an early spring stop between Florida and the Northeast for the touring pros, but it continually gained prominence until it ranked among golf's major events. Gene Sarazen's 1935 double eagle aided the process, but so did the flower-lined Augusta National Golf Club course, which matured into one of the world's most beautiful and challenging layouts. Also setting The Masters apart is the green jacket, emblematic of honorary membership in the exclusive club, which goes to each year's winner. He also gets a trophy and a large check, of course.
"H" is for Hogan, Who had little to say. To opponents it was usually, "I think you're away."
"BANTAM" BEN HOGAN, from little Dublin, Texas, was anything but talkative, but his game spoke volumes. He achieved star status during the late thirties after struggling to conquer a hook during his early years as a pro, then was involved in an auto accident in 1949 that left him with permanent injuries. Nonetheless, he went on to play some of his best golf, adding three U.S. Open titles (in 1950, 1951, and 1953) to the one he'd won in 1948. His persistence in the face of adversity remains a stirring example of athletic courage.
"I" is for Irwin, Who got better with age. Each year in his record Was a shiny new page.
HALE IRWIN, an All-Big Eight defensive back in his college days at the University of Colorado, won his third U.S. Open title in 1990 at the advanced age of 45, but his career only improved from there. He joined the Senior (now Champions) Tour in 1995, and his win total of 40 tournaments through 2004 became a record, as did his winnings of approximately $26.5 million. He has won the Senior PGA Championship four times.
"J" is for Bobby Jones, Whose "Slam" was so grand That it lit up the game and Brought cheer to the land.
ROBERT TYRE JONES JR. was unquestionably the best golfer who never turned pro. A summer player who attended college throughout his championship days (he eventually earned degrees in engineering, English literature, and law), he won five U.S. Amateur titles, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens, and a British Amateur. He retired from competition in 1930 after capturing all four of those tournaments that same year — an unprecedented Grand Slam that roused Depression-era America and earned him a ticker-tape parade down Broadway Avenue in New York. In later life he practiced law, wrote about golf, and nurtured the Augusta National Golf Club, which he founded and helped design.
"K" is for Kite, Who polished his specs, Posted some birdies, And cashed some big checks.
TOM KITE showed that short men (he stood 5'9") who wore glasses could also be golfing stars. He won 19 PGA tournaments, including the 1992 U.S. Open at the beautiful and treacherous Pebble Beach, California, course. He also played on seven U.S. Ryder Cup teams and was the nonplaying captain of the 1997 squad.
"L" is for "Lord By" — Byron Nelson by name. His 11-win streak Highlighted his fame.
BYRON NELSON had a short professional golf career, but a brilliant one. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, he began winning soon after he turned pro in 1932 and got better from there. In 1945 he won 11 consecutive PGA Tour events and 18 overall — records that are unlikely to be broken. His winnings enabled him to achieve his ambition of owning a cattle ranch in his home state. He retired there after the 1946 season, but continued in the sport as a teacher and television commentator.
NANCY LOPEZ, from Torrance, California, was a leading light on the LPGA Tour for 15 years beginning in 1978. She won 48 times during her career, and her smiles drew fans to women's events.
"M" is for Mickelson, Who swings from the left. With a driver he's long, With a wedge he is deft.
PHIL MICKELSON is right-handed, but learned to play golf left-handed as a child by mirroring his father's right-handed swing. He signaled his promise by winning the U.S. Amateur in 1990 and a PGA Tour event the next year — before he'd turned pro. His 20-win career's highlight was his triumph in the 2004 Masters tournament. His signature shot is the "plop shot," a soft, high wedge that stays just about where it lands. He's probably the best lefty ever to play the game.
"N" is for Nicklaus, The best of the best. With wins in 20 majors, He leads all the rest.
It's widely agreed that JACK NICKLAUS was the best golfer ever. A big, sturdy man from Columbus, Ohio, he combined power with finesse. He turned professional in 1962 after winning two U.S. Amateur titles, and his first pro victory was that year's U.S. Open, where he defeated Arnold Palmer in a playoff. His 20 wins in major tournaments — the U.S. Amateur and Open, The Masters, British Open, and PGA Championship — over a 28-year period (1959–1986) are a record. He joined the Senior Tour in 1990, and quickly won all four majors on that circuit, too.
"O" is for Ouimet, Barely more than a teen When he defeated the Brits In 1913.
FRANCIS OUIMET grew up across the street from The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the 1913 U.S. Open Championship was staged. Although the 20-year-old had a good local reputation as an amateur, it was considered highly unlikely that he would win, especially since the field included the Englishmen Harry Vardon, the best player of his era, and Ted Ray, the reigning British Open champ. Still, Ouimet, trailed by his 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery, tied those two after the 72 holes of regulation play and defeated them soundly in the next day's 18-hole playoff. Ouimet's victory is credited with beginning America's long period of golf domination.
"P" is for Palmer, Who went for the pin, Hit an iron shot stiff, Then rammed the putt in.
ARNOLD PALMER wasn't the best golfer of his day (Jack Nicklaus was), but his bold playing style and engaging personality made him one of the game's all-time fan favorites. He won seven major titles, including four Masters (in 1958, 1960, 1962, and 1964) and many others worldwide. He's best known as the commander of "Arnie's Army," the legion of spectators that sprang up to cheer him wherever he appeared. His magnetism helped to propel the PGA Tour to new popular and financial heights.
Excerpted from For the Love of Golf by Frederick C. Klein, Mark Anderson. Copyright © 2005 Mark Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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