Flashback: The Last Time The USA Made Putts And Europe Didn't, 1981 Ryder Cup At Walton Heath

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In searching for some great looks at Walton Heath’s design in anticipation of this week’s British Masters, I didn’t find much. But this 1981 Ryder Cup highlight film narrated by the late, great Jim Huber will remind you of a time Americans made everything while the Europeans struggled on the greens. There is also this: Dave Marr’s USA squad had NINE future Hall of Famers and is quite possibly the best one America ever assembled.



Flashback: When They Used To Shape The Ball, Use The Ground And Hit Woods Into Par-5s!

Fantastic flashback clip from the European Tour social getting us ready for pro golf’s return to the glorious Walton Heath, host of the 2018 British Masters hosted by Justin Rose.

Lee Trevino

Video: Bobby Jones Wins The 1926 Open At Royal Lytham

There is no sound and the Claret Jug ceremony is set in the middle of the footage, but it's still fun to look at the swings, the clothes, the caddies and especially Royal Lytham & St Annes, host of this week's Women's British Open. (Here are the coverage times.)

Note the bunkering at Lytham then--more sand faced--than the sod wall, typical links style you'll see this week. 

"Tournaments come, and tournaments go. That’s how it is on the PGA Tour."

MorningRead.com's Gary Van Sickle provides some fun memories while reminding us of bad news we already know: nothing lasts forever on PGA Tour.

As two towns integral to men's pro golf prepare to lose events or become less significant in the 2019 schedule--Akron and Houston namely--Van Sickle says this is the history of the PGA Tour, where even the once-vaunted Western Open teetered and is now barely recognizable. 

He also reminds us that someone in Tour headquarters signed off on Cialis as a title sponsor.

History is nice, but our memories often are nearly as short as our modern gnat-sized attention spans. Remember the Western Open? It was a cornerstone of the PGA Tour lineup for decades. Butler National Golf Club, the tournament’s long-time Chicago-area home, was considered a beast by Tour players. The event was seen as being just a notch below a major championship during the 1980s.

Today, the Western Open is long gone, having hit a low point – in my eyes, anyway – when Cialis, an erectile-dysfunction drug, became the title sponsor for a few embarrassing years. Imagine being a female tournament volunteer and having to wear a big Cialis logo on your shirt.

USGA Acquires Probst Golf Collection From PGA Of America

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The PGA of America, longtime holders of the Probst Library featuring an incredible collection of golf books and historic materials, has donated the collection to the USGA Museum.

From the press release:

The Probst Library was developed by South Bend, Indiana-based golf collector Colonel R. Otto Probst, whose passion for the game was kindled in the early 1920s with the acquisition of his first golf artifact. Topics explored through the wide-ranging collection include golf instruction, golf club histories, architecture, equipment, fiction, women in golf, travel, humor, literature and poetry. Several pieces explore Scottish history and its relationship to golf.

“The Probst Collection adds depth and richness to the USGA’s library, providing incredible insight into the game’s cultural and historic evolution,” said Rand Jerris, USGA senior managing director of Public Services. “We are grateful to Colonel Probst and the PGA for cultivating this treasure trove of information, which we can immediately share with fans who love and play the game worldwide.”

Probst (1896-1986) began his collection in 1923 and went on to acquire numerous items from renowned collectors through his life, including Cecil Hopkinson and C.B. Clapcott. In 1938, Justice Earle F. Tilley, a USGA Museum Committee member, endowed his golf library to Probst .

 

Which is all a good reminder for those interested in golf history and in Far Hills, or just searching from home...

Today, the USGA Library is the world’s foremost repository for the game’s history. Books and periodicals in more than 20 languages cover all aspects of the game. Other areas of collecting include sheet music, dissertations, scrapbooks and over 30,000 scorecards from golf clubs worldwide. The Library also contains the personal papers of some of the game’s greatest personalities (including Bob Jones and Walter Travis) and is home to the USGA/PGA African-American Archive of Golf History. The complete library catalog, containing more than 70,000 volumes, can be accessed online at usga.org or in person.

Say It Ain't So: Fire At National Golf Links Of America

There is no more historic clubhouse in America and certainly no club housing a more important collection of historic memorabilia than NGLA's. 

So as we await word on the extent of damage--most reports seem to suggest firefighters kept the fire from spreading beyond a kitchen, an upstairs patio and the "birdcage" dining area added in 1916--we can only hope all of C.B. Macdonald's treasures and Jarvis Hunt's clubhouse design were not permanently damaged.

A 27East story seems to be the most complete in terms of details and some images.

A few fire photos followed by some clubhouse interior shots that capture the grandeur of this American treasure...

Instagram Roundup: Tiger's Heroic Recovery, Arnie's Tractor, Bobby Jones's Birthday And A Creative Masters Teaser

A vintage Tiger Woods shot Saturday at Bay Hill. He trails Henrik Stenson by five heading into Sunday's 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational finale, Dan Kilbridge reports. A fantastic leaderboard should make for a great last day.

V I N T A G E 🐅

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The tractor belonging to Arnold Palmer's dad was brought down from Latrobe and parked at Bay Hill this week to commemorate the influence of his father.

Arnie’s Tractor.

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Saturday was Bobby Jones' birthday. The USGA posted some images of the amateur golfing great.

The Masters has begun their social media efforts earlier than normal and feature this look at the club's co-founders.

Crowdfunding Call: St Andrews Headstone For The Andersons

Kudos to author Roger McStravick for continuing his fine work on behalf of all things St. Andrews by crowdfunding an effort to erect a headstone for three-time Open Champion Jamie Anderson and father Auld Daw Anderson, former Old Course greenkeeper and later, ginger beer seller.

Auld Daw is also credited with helping shape the Old Course design during his stint.

Jamie died poor and while buried in the St. Andrews alongside his father, is deserving of proper recognition.

I've made a small contribution and hope you will too!

Here's the link.

A few of my recent photos from the cemetery, including Old and Young Tom Morris's restored headstone/monument and Allan Robertson's gravesite.


The Calamity Jane Story Updated

Really great work here by Jonathan Wall of PGATour.com to revisit the story of Calamity Jane and clarify the history of Bobby Jones' beloved putter. (The Tour Championship winner receives a replica.)

Besides explaining what the putter with 8 degrees of loft meant to Jones, Wall's piece includes a fun Q&A with Jones historian Sid Matthew at the end.

A teaser related to a Jones reunion with Jane in 1936:

Jones eventually walked away from competition at 28, on the heels of his historic victory at the 1930 U.S. Open that completed the then-Grand Slam that also included wins that year at the U.S. and British Amateurs and the Open Championship. In the years that followed, Calamity Jane would fade into the distance, but from time to time, Jones would reunite with his old friend and the sparks would fly.

As golf writer Bill Fields noted in a Golf Digest story on the famed putter, Jones brought the putter out of retirement at the 1936 Masters and promptly shot 64 at Augusta National with just 25 putts.

"It's just like an old friend now," Jones told The New York Times back then. "The ball kept going up to the cup and acting as though it had eyes."

Getting In The Mood For Birkdale: Johnny & Seve In '76 Video

The 1976 Open Championship was won by Johnny Miller, and as he recounted for Golfweek, it was a memorable weekend battle with Seve Ballesteros.

This short piece on the '76 Open is mostly about Seve but includes some great footage of Johnny and Seve's epic recovery on 18. Their battle is at the heart of next week's "Summer of '76" documentary airing on Golf Channel.

This longer piece by Scott Murray just appeared at The Guardian's site and reminds us what a wild week this was:

 

Where Are They Now Files, Birkdale '08 Edition: Padraig Harrington vs. Greg Norman (Viewer Discretion Advised)

The Shark tired to a final round 77 but gave us a thrill when contending for the 2008 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

As the championship prepares to return there nine years after that exciting week, this seems like a nice opportunity to catch up with winner Padraig Harrington and T3 finisher Greg Norman.

Padraig Harrington is tied for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open lead. Yes, he's got an interesting swing and finish these days, but he's as lovable, driven and zany as ever. But he's found a place of contentment, something he addressed after the round (Nick Rodger's report for the Herald.)


Greg Norman vacations regularly, injures himself constantly and likes to keep his clothes off on Instagram.

Getting In The Mood For Birkdale: Thomson Wins '54 Open

To kick off the countdown to Birkdale '17, this Open footage from the past shows us 24-year-old Peter Thomson posing for the Claret Jug, one of five victories.

This Sky Sports piece is a nice wrap-up of Thomson's win.

A few things to note about the course: exposed sand in the dunes, the galleries going where they please (apparently), and how stark the difference between fairway and green cuts.

There's also a brief glimpse of putting master Bobby Locke. Enjoy!

Roundup: More Sandy Tatum Remembrances

Starting with his longtime friend, Tom Watson:

Frank D.Tatum Jr. passed this morning leaving a rich and passionate legacy to golf.  We owe a great deal to him for what he did to enhance our wonderful game and we will sorely miss him and his infectious love for golf which indeed inspired so many of us.
Peace, Sandy

Jaime Diaz shares several memories for Golf World. This was fun for Hogan-philes:

There was a round at Cypress Point, where on the 13th fairway Tatum’s description of what he’d observed in his several rounds with Ben Hogan gave me a more palpable sense of what Hogan was like than anything I have ever heard.

“When it was Hogan’s turn to play, it was on the basis that he had been accorded the privilege of playing that particular golf shot,” he said. “And that privilege carried with it a responsibility. And that responsibility was to give that shot all the thought and effort that he could, and to make it as effective as he could. It was a very distinct characteristic.”

Michael Bamberger at Golf.com reminds us of the legendary Hinkle Tree incident at Inverness and enjoys just how much Sandy could, if you didn't know him, annoy the elite player.

I'm talking about guys who won major championships. They thought of Tatum as the USGA president from central casting, with his patrician bearing and his pipe, his $5 words. They thought he was high-minded and egotistical, a self-appointed golf god. And to a degree he was. 

Yes, he had resounding admiration for Bob Jones, for Arnold Palmer, for Jack Nicklaus, for Tom Watson, men he knew well. But he didn't think they understood golf in toto (the Latin is a tip of the hat to Tatum) any better than he. That gave him the courage of his convictions. In his long tenure as a pro bono USGA official, the organization was the stern father of American golf, and father knew best. The game was better for it.  

Telling me about it years later, Tatum said, "The players complained. 'You're changing the course, you're changing the course!' I said, 'We're rectifying a problem.'" He was a Stanford-educated lawyer and a dean of the San Francisco bar. He could make words dance. The Hinkle Tree is a footnote in the game's lore. 

Sam Weinman at GolfDigest.com on Sandy's more enduring line.

AmateurGolf.com's Pete Wlodkowski has a nice obit and roundup of quotes from golf folks on Sandy's incredible life.

An unbylined NCGA pieces includes a mention of Sandy's affinity for Youth On Course, which I have made a $100 donation to in memory of Sandy, an option you can pursue here.

In an article in the Spring 2009 edition of NCGA Golf, Tatum wrote about his passion for Youth on Course.

“One of the basic premises for the Youth on Course program is that it fills the ultimate gap that has almost always existed in respect to getting golf into the lives of young people,” Tatum said. “Access is the name of the the game, and Youth on Course provides it.”

Few, with the possible exception of Bobby Jones and Bill Campbell, have done more for amateur golf than Tatum.

Diaz also wrote this piece on Tatum's surprising NCAA Championship win in 1942:

But Tatum rode what the Associated Press called a "peppery putter" to defeat his first five opponents, including future Walker Cupper and USGA Senior Amateur champion Dale Morey in the quarterfinals. Against de la Torre, Tatum shot 69 in the morning round, and never looked back. "I played better than I knew how," he says. "I was in a zone, one like I never reached again the rest of my life."

The satisfaction was immense. When he called his father in Los Angeles, all Tatum could manage were the words, "Dad, I won."

Here is Tatum's Stanford golf history page at their wonderful website.

His affinity for Stanford was acknowledged by his alma mater: