|Yesterday I was watching the golf tournament from Pacific Grove when I was hit by a wave of nostalgia almost as big as a tsunami. It was the sight of the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean that did it. I had almost forgotten how incredibly gorgeous it is.
The golf course itself remains familiar. Many happy hours were spent walking every inch of it during the seven years of my first marriage to a golfer good enough to be invited to play in Pro-Am tournaments held there.
In those days, no one ever used golf carts and I’m happy to see they are still not allowed during tournament play. Those people with tourney experience know
the value of the man carrying the bag, not only due to his strong back but, also his quite often invaluable advice. He’ll tell you the condition of the course, the state of the weather and wind, and hand you the right club to use if you’re in doubt. These fellows are worth every cent they earn.
There never was a standing gallery at each hole. Some people pre-positioned themselves at specific holes, most particularly at the eighteenth in order to witness the often dramatic grand finale of the match. Almost all spectators chose a favorite foursome and walked behind them all the way.
There also was complete silence on the part of the fans. No one even breathed too loudly when a player made a shot, and absolutely no picture taking. No flash was permitted and a camera would be confiscated if the click was too loud.
Several of the more famous of the players were prima donnas, carrying their demands and sensitivities to a ridiculous level. Ben Hogan, a big star on the links in his day was one of the divas. I only saw him once, at the end of his career, but had the chance to witness his fabled nastiness in action. He was about to take a tee shot when some poor fellow in the audience absent mindedly jiggled the keys in his pocket.
You would have thought Hogan had been shot. He jumped up and down, screamed, threw his club at the gallery. Yelled for the security people to arrest the man and throw him bodily off the course. The guards strong armed the man out of the area but I don’t think they would have had the nerve to have him arrested.
There were others almost as bad as Hogan but he was the worst. By contrast
Sam Snead was a darling. I had the pleasure of walking with him when my husband was in his foursome during another tournament. He was affable and charming and let me take his picture while he was practice swinging his driver. I got a great shot of his famous back swing. He told me that he was “double” jointed, to which he attributed his great technique off the tee.
The most fun I ever had was the time my husband was invited to play in the Hope-Crosby tournament, held for charity, at a San Francisco country club. My husband’s partner was Johnny Weismueller, the former Olympic swimmer and portrayer of Tarzan in the movies several years before. He was nice enough, but all the action was with Hope and Crosby so I opted to walk with them. They were hilarious. They played a fairly casual game for the benefit of the gallery. Crosby had just acquired the Minute Maid company and at every tee there was a nice kiosk dispensing free glasses of orange juice. It has always been my favorite drink and I consumed enough of it to slosh, which prompted Hope to ask me if I were trying to put his friend out of business before he even got started.
There was an awfully nice Australian in another Pro-Am game who was playing with my husband. He seemed to want to chat a lot so I walked with him. He was very complimentary about my husband’s playing ability, wondering why he didn’t turn pro. I never really knew the answer to that question which was often asked. Mind you, I was glad he never did. The Australian was accompanied by a small man who seemed to be a good friend. The Australian was also short and at one point pulled his friend to his side and asked me if I would like to take a picture of two short Australian millionaires. I wanted to say, “Not Particularly”, but there they were arm in arm, grinning ear to ear, so I obliged. He gave me his address at home and asked me to send him a copy. I never did, figuring that since he was Australia’s number one golfer he probably had plenty of pictures.
It’s amazing how many memories can be evoked by a sight of something, like one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. It also brought back the memory of the one and only golf game I ever played at Pebble Beach. Some things are best forgotten.