Hate to be Rude: Picture perfect?
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Augustine, Fla., always is a special night. Golf does nostalgia like no other sport, save perhaps baseball.
That said, the Hall fete doesn’t reach its potential because not enough golf legends and movers and shakers attend. The extravaganza could be much grander.
Move the Champions Tour’s Legends of Golf tournament back to the King & Bear course at World Golf Village the week before the nearby Players Championship. Then hold the Hall party on the Monday that follows the Legends and kicks off Players week.
The shift would ensure the attendance of many more people from various factions: Hall of Fame members, visiting dignitaries, national media, etc.
Their inclusion would create more buzz for the Hall and for golf. It would move golf closer to baseball’s Cooperstown model. After all, the energy of a bash is measured by who attends.
• Favorite moment from this year’s induction ceremony Monday night: Bobby Wadkins’ red, crying face when his brother, inductee Lanny, told the crowd there’s no way he’d be going into the Hall if it weren’t for Bobby.
The emotion made the night.
• Fellow inductee Jose Maria Olazabal gave a speech with the same ingredient that marked his play: passion. He provided listeners with what they most want: stories. He weaved a tale of a young dreamer, a greenskeeper’s boy, who followed his heart and persevered.
Some needed tissue.
• Olazabal long has been one of the five players not named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson I’d pay to watch. I observed him and partner Seve Ballesteros at my first Ryder Cup, in 1991 at Kiawah Island, and came away marveling.
The Spaniards, best as I can recall, kept getting up-and-down from trash cans and bushes.
• Others I’d pay to see? Retief Goosen comes to mind. Love the swing tempo and the scrambling ability. And the flat-line demeanor.
Goosen, one can surmise, has the same look after double eagle or quadruple bogey.
• Speaking of scrambling, Olabazal missed 28 greens in regulation in winning his second Masters title, in 1999. He got those misses up-and-down for par 21 times. That’s 75 percent.
On Augusta National’s rolling greens.
His hands belong in a Hall exhibit.
• One of my favorite items in the Hall is a new entry: An uncashed $4 check to Lanny Wadkins from Ben Hogan, accompanied by a letter.
Years ago, Wadkins played with Hogan at the elder’s home course in Fort Worth, Shady Oaks. Late in the round, a man dressed in shorts and beard, two things Hogan didn’t much care for, rolled up in a cart and announced that he would join them for the rest of the round.
Hogan turned to Wadkins and said, “Are you ready to go in?”
Rattled, Hogan forgot to pay Wadkins the $4 from their wagering. The next day, he wrote a check and sent an explanatory letter that apologized for the “intruder.”
The postscript: A while later, Hogan’s secretary called Wadkins and said that while balancing their checkbook, the Hogans discovered Wadkins hadn’t cashed the check. The secretary called back monthly for about six months, Wadkins said.
Wadkins finally told her he wouldn’t be cashing the check.
Makes sense. You don’t cash checks like that. You frame them. Or, if you’re lucky enough, you put them in your Hall of Fame exhibit.
• Small world, about 40 years later:
Soon after getting to Wake Forest as a freshman, Wadkins and his teammates entered Monday qualifying for the Greater Greensboro Open. Wadkins recalls shooting 73, same as the two professionals in his group, and qualifying for the Tour event.
The two men he played with? You know them more for their swing advice than their own swings: Butch Harmon and Jim Hardy.
• Who is not in the Hall of Fame but should be? In a recent telephone conversation, Lee Trevino mentioned double-major winners Doug Ford and David Graham.
He missed one. The most glaring omission is Dan Jenkins.
• Doug Barron has made an undesirable kind of history. He’s the first to be suspended one year by the PGA Tour for using performance-enhancing drugs under the 16-month-old anti-doping program, it was announced Monday.
Where there’s a positive drug test, there are lawyers involved. Barron, 40, says there was no ill intent to gain an unfair advantage. His lawyer said the substances were prescription drugs for a medical condition. He said the Barron party is “confused” by the penalty.
A couple of thoughts:
One, the PGA Tour curiously did not name the performance-enhancer in question. I’ve never been a fan of the Tour half truth.
Two, Barron has not made the cut in five tournaments this year, four on the Nationwide Tour. Apparently performance-enhancing drugs don’t work in golf.