This week marks the release of Dan Jenkins' 21st book, Unplayable Lies (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need).
My quick review: this is Dan's most diverse collection of golf topics with a collection of new and recent material from Golf Digest. It's a Semi-Anthology. Like any good compilation of a master, you can pick it up and read whatever you're in the mood for, or, tee it up on 1, go all 18 and still have a merry read.
We talked with and about Dan on Morning Drive, covering the new book, Tiger and the young guns. And Dan has now participated in seven prior Q&As at this site. In order: here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
GS: This is your 65th Masters and it may very well be our last in the current media center, opened in 1990. Will you miss it?
DJ: I won't miss the stairs. Actually, having entered geezerhood, I still miss the old tent, open at both ends to catch the breezes, and then the Quonset hut, and finding a Western Union operator who wasn't taking a break to file my story on deadline. But all of it has been great fun, and after this one I shall be striving to make my 66th.
GS: If the new Masters media center moves away from its current prime real estate, do you think that’ll further reduce access to players? How has player access changed?
DJ: We've been slowly losing access to the players for several years now, and not just at Augusta. But as some of us in the writing trade like to tell the more difficult ones who can't make time for us: "Hey, no big deal. I'd rather make it up anyhow."
GS: Select media get to play the course the Monday after The Masters, do you recall the first time you played and was it part of a blind draw?
DJ: Playing the course used to be so easy in the early 1950s, my first years. Some of us would show up the weekend before the Masters, go in the pro shop, identify ourselves and our publications, ask if we could play, and we would be welcomed, given a caddie, and sent out to the first tee. No charge, no nothing. There would hardly be anyone around. I played the course many times in those days, and have been invited back to play a few more times during the reigns of various chairmen. Fond memories.
GS: In Unplayable Lies you have piece on Hogan vs. Nicklaus vs. Woods. You conclude Tiger had the best recovery shots, chipping and clutch putting of the three. Now the chipping part appears lost, maybe yippee. Can you recall any player who lost part of their game that was once their strength or maybe even the best all time?
DJ: You have to look at a guy's record. Take Trevino. He won five majors from '68 through '74, then he didn't win another one until '84. What happened in those 10 years between? Did he lose something and then get it back? He says no, but perhaps he did and didn't realize it. Sometimes you think you're working at the game, but you're only spinning the wheel. Golf can make you crazy unless you've had proper training in the home. Hogan remains the only player who lost everything---including, almost, his life---and got it back.
GS: The new book has a piece on Titanic Thompson. You leave the impression that his story wasn’t as cinematic as we’d been led to believe. Fair to say?
DJ: I was delighted to finally meet and talk to Titanic, a legend I'd heard about since boyhood days. He of course never did anything to deny the legend he helped create---it was good for his business, after all. But you would have to be a fool to believe he could do some of the outrageous things that were written about him. I do know he must have been a hell of a golfer. Both Hogan and Byron Nelson vouched for it to me personally. And so did George Low, a pretty good hustler himself, who knew Ti well.
GS: Any theories on why Hollywood has struggled to make decent golf movies?
DJ: Hollywood can't even make a good sports movie, not really. Why? The people who want to make them generally fall somewhere in that crevice between hero-worshippers and jock-sniffers. Besides, it's not Hollywood's job to present reality.
GS: In the essay, "Is Your Club Old Money Or New Money" from the book, did I detect some conflict over which you’d join? I almost felt you siding with New Money more often?
DJ: I would never side with New Money. Me? A man who has always felt nostalgic for things he never knew? Give me brass, dark wood, gilt-edged desks, and blind shots any old day.
GS: Your Top Three, First Team All-Conference Masters Chairmen?
DJ: Cliff Roberts, Hord Hardin, Billy Payne. They've all been great to me personally. And Hootie is my bonus choice.
GS: Best of your parking spots: Augusta National or Amon Carter Stadium?
DJ: It's a dead heat. Thank you, Chairman Billy, for Augusta. And although I lost my spot at the new TCU Stadium when I didn't buy a $15 million dollar luxury suite, and the front door parking that goes with it---not that I could have---I have two good friends in the oil bidness who did---and they count on me to provide songs, dances, and snappy patter when the games become worrisome.