continued from page such as ….
continued from page
such as Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, and Byron Nelson often took respite. If you were an eager journalist, you didn’t have to ask questions. All you had to do was listen.
However, Sarazen, at some point, would be asked about his famous double eagle at the 15th hole in 1935. He was always amendable to conversation about his feat, noting that there were “23 people” standing around the green. His playing partner was Walter Hagen and one of those “twentythree” was tournament founder Bob Jones. “I had two great witnesses,” Sarazen would grin.
I have on audio tape of Sarazen’s recall, in great detail, of the double eagle and his views on the Masters and the tournament’s influence in golf. He later said that over his lifetime, he had met at least a thousand or more golf fans who claimed to have seen his miraculous four wood stroke, which became known as the “shot heard round the world.”
There were conversations with Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and Sam Snead and a conversation with Ben Hogan on the phone, which regrettably was not recorded.
Snead was as colorful as they come. He sounded forth with whatever was on his mind. It was fun to listen to him talk, his West Virginia drawl as intriguing as his insightful commentary.
Snead gave Bob Jones and Cliff Roberts high marks with regard to how they ran the Masters; he was very respectful of the golf course. He thought the 12th was one of the toughest in golf. “…it takes its toll. It eats their lunch and the bag it came in. I told my nephew ( J. C. Snead) there are two holes that will kill you, No. 12 and No. 17. No. 17 looks closer than it is because of the swells you don’t see. I said, just play the yardage. Don’t go by the way it looks.
“With No. 12, you must play it long. If you miss the green, miss it in the back, not the front.”
There was a brief period when Palmer was a host of the Sunday post conference telecast. One year, when he had missed the cut and there was that lull as the players were about to make the turn in the final round, we sat in the locker room and talked about the tournament which he loved.
As always, it was an insightful conversation. He always had something discerning to say. However, it was at Bay Hill one winter day when I interviewed him for an hour that is most memorable. The one question I gave priority to was, this one: “Do you have any idea how many times you have signed your name in your lifetime?”
He smiled and said, “Well, not sure, but my long-time secretary who retired a couple of years ago estimated that I had signed my name 4,000,000 times.” That didn’t include banquets, golf courses, FBO’s and restaurants.
Arnie was golf’s greatest ambassador.