(Column was written
By Shelly Saltman
Over the years, many of my friends who are avid golfers have asked me to join them and take up the game. In truth, I won't do it because it might prove embarrassing to them and especially to me.
I played in a Pro-Am once and to give you an idea how bad my drives were, a member of my foursome around the sixteenth hole turned to me and asked me if my husband played golf as well. That was it! I never picked up the clubs again to play.
That is not to say that golf has not given me some great moments. In 1953, as a young announcer in
For those who do not know, the Walker Cup match has been in existence since 1921. It is a combined effort that takes place every other year in odd numbered years pitting the best amateur golfers of the
The R & A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club) and the USGA (The United States Golf Association), golf's amateur governing bodies make the team selections. It is named for George Herbert Walker, the grandfather of the 41st president of the
It has been a premier showcase for many potentially great pros. The year I broadcast, the
The Ryder Cup, golf's professional version, which came after the Walker Cup, is played along the same lines. In fact, the Ryder Cup, which originally also had just a
You know, I wonder about golfers. My boyhood friend and pal, Earle Wolfe, lives in
This brings to mind, the fine art of throwing your club. Tommy Bolt won 15 PGA Tournaments in his, career including the 1958 U.S. Open. He is 55th on the all-time wins list even though he didn't join the tour until he was 32 years old. In 2002, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. As one of the most explosive men to ever play professionally, he, however, was better known for something else... his temper.
So bad was his temper that at various times he had nicknames such as: Terrible Tommy, Tempestuous, Thunder Bolt, as well as Vesuvius. These names were all well earned. Probably, my friend, the Late Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray said it best. He wrote after watching Tommy play a round, " You could sense the lava rising, the ash spewing, the top about to come off... Mr. Bolt was about to erupt."
When Tommy's game was not going smoothly, his caddy, the gallery and his fellow players all knew to watch out... a club, or for that matter, clubs would be flying. He would sometimes launch a club into a lake with a two-handed backswing. His inability to control his temper and his emotions cost him tournaments. The great bantam Ben Hogan, his friend, often said, " If we could've just screwed another head on his shoulders, Tommy could have been the best ever."
His wild antics brought about a dubious honor. Because of him, the PGA made it a two-stroke penalty for anyone who throws a club during tournament play. The rule is affectionately known as the "Tommy Bolt Rule." The day after the rule took affect, Bolt himself was the first to break it. This time, it wasn't because he was mad he just didn't want some other golfer to be the first to break "his" rule.
There have been many other incidents of club throwing. Two that come to mind belong to of the current acknowledged giants of the game... John Daly and Tiger Woods.
In the third round of the 1997 PGA, Daly was one under par and just three strokes off the lead. At the 12th hole, his drive sailed onto the fairway. Unfortunately, it was the 17th fairway. Daly went berserk! He threw his club completely over the gallery and into the woods. Before they could continue the match, it required two marshals to jump a chain-link fence to retrieve it.
Tiger Woods at the height of his game won the Bay Hill Invitational four successive years... 2000 to 2003. One more victory in 2004 and he would have stood alone as the only pro with most consecutive wins at one tournament. Apparently, the pressure got to him. He was in 46th place in the final round and on the 6th hole; he hit one into the water. Then, according to many witnesses (he wasn't on camera), he threw his club after it.
Like everything else that day, he missed. He accidentally hit has caddy Steve Williams instead. When asked about it later, Tiger said, "Steve was just as mad as I was, so it doesn't really matter." I wonder if anyone ever asked Williams.
So, I don't play golf. Not just because I am not good at it, but in reality I could not afford to throw away any clubs. I should ask my pal Earle if he ever really went though with his protestations. After all, like me, he is a tight-fisted New Englander.