The Human Side of Golf

The Best Interviews from the Past 35 Years of Golf Magazine
Sponsored by 

Over the past 5 years we’ve interviewed the game’s greatest players and personalities in the pages of Golf Magazine.
This collection of those interviews, made possible by Dow, will reinforce what you already know about the people who play golf: we are the luckiest people in the world because we not only get to enjoy this peerless game during our own rounds, but we also get to witness the human drama of triumphs and failures by those who seek to fulfill their potential and take home the brass ring. It’s your game, it’s their game, it’s our game, and there’s not another like it.

Chi Chi Rodriguez....................................................... 4 Byron Nelson .............................................................. 9 Johnny Miller ............................................................ 11 Gary Player ............................................................... 16 Payne Stewart .......................................................... 20 Bob Hope................................................................. 24 Ben Hogan ............................................................... 26 Arnold Palmer/Jack Nicklaus .................................... 28  

Chi Chi Rodriguez
MAY 980
Golf’s most colorful player is also one of the Biggest success stories on the Tour
JoLee eDMoNDSoN • Contributing editor, GoLF Magazine

beginnings. But it was a miracle of his own making. He shed the shackles of a Puerto Rico slum. Now a graying, 44-year-old veteran, whose seasons on the Tour are admittedly numbered, Rodriguez looks back on his extraordinary climb up the mountain with a firm smile and says, “I always was a dreamer.” Visions of fame and riches began to enter his head at the age of 7, when he started working as a forecaddie at Berwind Country Club, a 20minute drive from San Juan. “There was a big banyan tree by the entrance to the clubhouse,” he reflects, “and several other kids and I would sit in it and watch the fancy convertibles drive through the gate. There I was, without shoes, telling friends that somebody I’d own a car like that. They all laughed, of course. But I knew it would come true.” Vintage Hollywood. And there’s more. Not only did the infant Rodriguez almost die from rickets and sprue, but as an adolescent he had to defend himself against the bats that lived in the roof of the shack his father had built. “They’d come out at night and fly into the room; my brothers and I would kill them in mid-air with broomsticks. They carry rabies, you know. Anyway, that’s one reason I have such good reflexes.” Chi Chi’s early dreams of prosperity coincided with his discovery of golf, but his learning experience took place far from the stately fairways of Berwind. “I made my own clubs out of guava limbs,” he says, “and I made my golf balls from tin cans—perfectly round with a piece of lead stick in the center. I could hit them about 100 yards. My friends and I would dig holes at the baseball park, one at second base and one at home plate, and we’d play our own version of golf, and sometimes bet nickels.” As a child, Rodriguez looked like a toothpick that would snap at the slightest touch, and the

prospect of his excelling at anything athletic must have seemed nothing more than the dreams he speaks of. But the more he banged away at those tin golf balls, the more he developed tremendous hand action, an asset that would make him almost a million dollars in official Tour winnings. The road to this pot of gold was full of chuck holes, deep ruts and boulders. Serious thoughts of a golf career had to be given third priority to putting food in his stomach and a shirt on his back. He labored in the sugar cane fields as a youth, did his time in the Army and spent his early twenties as a dishwasher. But when Rodriguez stuck the vein, it was the mother lode. All the guava limbs and tin cans began to pay off when he landed a job as assistant pro at Dorado Beach Country Club and gained the admiration and affection of some nice folks names Rockefeller, who happened to own the place. Nelson and Laurence liked the unabashed, diligent Rodriguez so much that they decided to sponsor him on the Tour. And Chi Chi didn’t disappoint them. Today, Rodriguez’ worth is…well, let’s just say that his dreams in the banyan tree came true. over and over again. Bill Kratzert suggests that Rodriguez’ preoccupation with foreign affairs has a sporadically negative effect on his game. “I wish he would follow the world scene less,” Kratzert says, shaking his head a bit. “Sometimes he worries more about what’s happening in Afghanistan than what’s happening on the golf course. During practice rounds especially he talks a great deal about trouble spots and hunger overseas. But, you know, he’s such a humanitarian. He’s obsessed with the betterment of conditions for everyone. And he’s an incurable optimist who never looks on the dark side. He thinks there’s a solution to every problem.” of course, the real measure of a person is not in how much he talks, but in how much he does. And in this respect, Chi Chi Rodriguez stands taller than Paul Bunyan. It would be a futile search to find an equally benevolent soul in golf, in sports, in any arena. While most affluent men with similar backgrounds handily forget their origins and the way it was to be

hungry, Chi Chi remember. Indeed, remembering is one of the things he does best. Chi Chi shuns discussion of his charitable activities, regarding them as highly personal matters. But when pressed, he will say, “I have a good heart. I love everybody. When someone hurts, I hurt.” His philanthropic deeds are so awesome in number that one wonders how he is able to make time for golf. As Lionel Hebert once proclaimed, “If Chi Chi had concentrated more on his game then on people and the needs of others, he would have won twice as many tournaments.” Young people are the focus of his generosity. each year, he stages The Chi Chi Invitational at Dorado Beach, the proceeds of which go to the Children’s Hospital of Puerto Rico. He delivers inspirational speeches at orphanages and correctional schools. In 1979, he conducted the first golf clinic for underprivileged children in New York City’s Central Park. If a veteran’s hospital is in the vicinity of a Tour stop, Rodriguez can be found there when he’s not on the course. Back home he gives poor youngsters golf clubs and free access to the lush fairways of Dorado, where he is the resident professional. When he retires he plans to adopt about five children of various races and nationalities and ensconce them in his 8,000-square-foot residence. Within its five bedrooms, seven bathrooms and swimming pool, he, his wife and daughter have trouble finding one another. “That house is a real showplace,” says elias. “But few people know that it’s the first home of Chi Chi has ever owned. He bought his mother and six brother and sisters homes before he thought about buying one for himself.” With a trace of exasperation, elias adds, “he’s given so much money away. He could have been a millionaire many times over.” Capsulizing Rodriguez’ warmth and largesse, LPGA star Jo Ann Washam states, “I’ve never met anyone more full of life and love than Chi Chi.” The two mighty mites pooled their resources to win the 1977 Mixed Team Championship, and Jo Ann won more than a trophy. She also picked up a wealth of short (continued)

When you talk about “success stories,” you want to hear about obstacle and old-fashioned guts and falling down hard and getting up again and daring to pursue the unattainable and attaining it after all. You want to hear about mountains that were climbed, not hills. In the slick realm of circuit golf, there is only a handful of mountain climbers: Lee Trevino, because of his well-publicized impoverished youth; Ben Hogan, because of his lack of innate ability; Lee elder, because of his race; and Gary Player, because of his physical limitations. And there is Juan “Chi Chi” Rodriguez, because of all of the above. Now there’s a success story, full of all of the elements that make you stand up and cheer, get a knot in your throat and think about your own small victories. If ever golf had a Rocky, it’s this wafer thin little man with skin the color of a vanilla bean, who, if it weren’t for his impeccable garb, could get lost in the crowd in Spanish Harlem. The fact is that Rodriguez never got lost in any crowd, which is a miracle considering his hopeless

“Chi Chi does it all. He dresses beautifully, he’s the consummate gentleman, a terrific player and a fantastic entertainer. He is what the Tour golf should be all about.” 

MAY 1980—CHI CHI RoDRIGuez

MAY 1980—CHI CHI RoDRIGuez

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game tips from her partner and a clear insight into what makes one of golf’s most vital personalities tick. “He’s interested in everything around him. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call him a Renaissance man.” It was just typical of the man that after innocently violating the new one-ball rule in the final round of this year’s Phoenix open, he contacted Deputy Commissioner Clyde Mangum and told him of the infraction. No one knew but Chi Chi, yet he accepted disqualification and the loss of $615 in prize money without so much as batting an eye. Perhaps the most touching gesture Rodriquez makes is within the boundaries of the circuit itself. Whenever he wins an event he throws a lavish dinner party for all the Tour caddies, a tradition that has enshrined him as a hero in “the yard.” “Chi Chi is unbelievable,” vouches veteran bag-toter Richard Holzer. “He puts on a great spread for us. He makes the caddies feel special, like we really count. Cheech even says he’s going to provide us with limousines and tuxedos the next time he wins. You know, this may sound corny and unrealistic, but he’s really one of us.” Rodriguez explains, “Those guys work hard, and when their pros don’t play worth a darn, they don’t eat well. The dinner is just a token of my appreciation. The caddies are so overlooked out here, and I remember the tough times I had making ends meet when I used to carry the bag.” Chi Chi’s charity even extends to the golf course proper, where he entertains the office-weary, weekend galleries with familiar swordsman routines and quick one-liner. “I do it to make people laugh,” he offers. “Americans are so hard-working, and half of them don’t enjoy their work, so I try to give them something to smile about.” one of the first pros to inject humor and color into the otherwise staid Tour, Rodriguez has drawn a loyal following bent on witnessing a bit of mischief with their golf. But Chi Chi’s pioneering in the frivolity department has garnered an occasional frown from former Commissioner Joe Dey and a few peers.

“Mr. Dey asked me not to put my hat over the hole after I sunk a putt because it didn’t look good,” says Chi Chi in all reverence. “And some of the pros claimed that I damaged the area around the cup. So I stopped doing that. Maybe I did overdo it. But I didn’t mean to. “I still do the bit where I pretend that my putter is a saber. Nowadays showmanship is more acceptable, but I’ve learned when to do it and when to turn it off. A lot of guys out here are very serious, and God bless them, that’s their personality. It’s not a sin to be business-like.” An ardent admirer of Chi Chi, Hubert Green has always applauded his comedy efforts and comes to his defense against his more somber detractors. “Chi Chi does it all. He dresses beautifully, he’s the consummate gentleman, a terrific player and a fantastic entertainer. He is what the Tour golf should be all about. There’s a lot of talk about the dull future of this game. But if more of the pros behaved like Cheech, there’d be no cause for concern. Tour players must sell themselves today. People come out to be entertained as much as to see great shots.” Sam Snead contends that golf’s modern era has produced only two real shotmakers, Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez. With his superbly skillful hands (“the best in the game,” claims Kratzert), Cheech can pull miracles out of his bag around the green. Give him any lie in any bunker and he’ll likely end up in better shape than if he’d hit from Position A. Indeed, it is “on the beach” that Rodriguez has built his castle, his reputation. “He taught me so much about sand play,” confides Washam, “that I aim for bunkers now. even when the ball is buried, I know exactly what it’s going to do. He made that part of the game much easier for me.” His make-’em-laugh repertoire may have lost some steam, but what’s left or it still pulls the fans. And his artistry of technique pulls the students of the game. Still, it would not be outrageous to assert that most of his devotees come out to see him because he is a success story. When you watch Chi Chi Rodriguez stride eagerly down a fairway, you dare to believe and dream again.

Byron Nelson
CoNNeLL BARReTT • Senior Writer, GoLF Magazine

DECEMBER 00

On a hot day in Texas, just weeks before he died, Byron Nelson gave GOLF Magazine his final interview, sharing lessons learned from his 9 years. These are the words he lived by. PRACTICE BUILDS CONFIDENCE
“In golf, practice builds confidence. It makes you fearless. When I was a pro at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey, I was coming back from the range with my 3-iron. Some of the caddies were next to the clubhouse, about 60 yards away from a flagpole. They each bet me a nickel that I couldn’t drop a ball on the terrace and hit the pole. My first shot missed, but I gripped down and hit a draw and, sweet as you please, got that pole dead center! The caddies stared, their mouths open. I picked up my 55 cents, gave them a little smile and walked away.”

wagon, and I’d take the vegetables to the stores and sell them for pennies and nickels. Hey, get a nickel, and there’s a loaf of bread! When my brother was born, he had health problems, and he had to have goat milk, so I would milk the goat for the milk to give my sick brother. You go through that and it builds in your background. It makes you stronger.”

HAPPINESS IS WHERE YOU FIND IT
“My first wife, Louise, and I didn’t have any money. We were married [in 1934] in the living room of her parents’ house. I had a Ford roadster. It didn’t have heat, and Louise’s feet and legs would get cold, because ladies always wore dresses back then. So we’d heat bricks in an oven and wrap them in paper, and she could put her feet on them. That helped. one of the happiest moments of my life was 12 years after we were married, when we finally had the money to buy our own furniture. All that time, we’d borrowed furniture from her sister. So when we got to buy chairs and a couch and a bed, that was something!”

LEARN TO GET ON WITH THINGS
“Sometimes you have to deal with what happens in life. To get on with things, no matter what. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. I lived through the Depression, when you wondered where your next dollar was coming from. My mother and father had a little acre, with chickens, vegetables and eggs. I had a

FORGET THE LAST ONE AND FOCUS ON THIS ONE
“The best round of golf I ever played was at the 1937 Masters. Not the best score, but the best round. I didn’t putt that good, but I shot a 66. I was in the zone. I walked off the 18th green and shook [playing partner] Paul Runyan’s hand, and he said, ‘You did something I’ve never seen before.’ I didn’t know what he meant, but I had played perfect golf tee-to-green. I hit every par 3 in one, every par 4 in two and every par 5 in two. That’s 32 swings in 18 holes. I was in the moment, as they say. I wasn’t thinking about what I was gonna shoot, or how many greens I hit. Forget about that last birdie or that last bogey when you get to the next tee. Just forget it. It’s gone. Play one shot. one shot. one shot. That’s how you do it. That’s golf.”

BE BOLD WHEN YOU’RE FEELING IT
“Another thing about the ‘37 Masters: There are times to be brave. on Sunday I was three shots down to Ralph Guldahl with nine to play.

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MAY 1980—CHI CHI RoDRIGuez

DeCeMBeR 2006—BYRoN NeLSoN

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and I saw him make 6, so my caddie and I talked about laying up, so I’d make no worse than 5 and gain a shot. But I just knew I could get a 3-wood to that little ol’ green. So I said, ‘The Lord hates a coward. Give me the 3wood.’ I took it, knocked it on the left edge, and chipped in for eagle! That was my first Masters win. By nature I’m conservative, but sometimes you have to step boldly.”

RESPECT YOURSELF AND THE GAME

“One of the greatest feelings in life is setting out to do something, and then following through to do it.”

DO WHAT YOU SET OUT TO DO
“one of the greatest feelings in life is setting out to do something, and then following through to do it. I made up my mind that I wanted to win every important tournament in the united States, and after ‘45 I’d almost done it. But I hadn’t won the L.A. open. Now, I had desires, and I never backed off anything. So I wasn’t gonna stop until I won it, which I did in ‘46. I did what I set out to do. That felt special, and I said, ‘So long,’ to playing after that.”

LeW FISHMAN • Senior Writer, GoLF Magazine

“I only threw a club once in a tournament, but boy, I really threw it! I was playing in Canada with Horton Smith. I was swinging well but not putting great. I missed a three-footer and, as we walked off the green, I was so mad that I snapped. I threw that putter up into this big old evergreen. It hit some branches, wobbled, and came back down. That got some tension out, and I calmed down and shot 66. That night, Horton, who was older, said, ‘You know, I was disappointed to see you throw that putter today. I’ve never seen you do that.’ And he gave me a little lecture, which I deserved. Then he smiled and said, ‘But if you hadn’t thrown that putter, I don’t think you would have shot 66.’”

what you’re supposed to do. I don’t believe in that. I believe in listening to that little voice inside. After 1945, I was supposed to keep playing, to set more records. But that little voice was telling me something else. I was raised in farm country, and I wanted a ranch. So we found 630 acres here in Roanoke. But I needed to pay for it outright-I don’t like debt. It’s important to own what you own. So that last year or so, I was playing for records and because I loved golf, sure. But I was playing for Louise and me, for our ranch. So in that last year, I’d hit a good shot, I’d make a putt, and I’d say, ‘There’s another cow!’”

Johnny Miller
UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE • JANUARY 98
Over six years (9-9) Miller had won  Tour events, two major championships, the U.S. and British Opens, and set the golf world agog with the numbers he was recording. Miller, more than anyone else, made the eight- and nine-under-par rounds seem almost commonplace. When he was hot, he made the other players appear to be nothing more than a laundry list of finishers. But by 98, his talents had deserted him. His game had eroded and dissolved into posterity. A giant laid to rest…Micky Mantle striking out a record  times, Willie Mays unable to go to first to third on a long single, O.J. Simpson unable to find the hole in the line.
Today, two years after Miller’s return from the dead with three Tour victories and close to $350,000 in earnings during that span, Miller reflects somewhat lightly on his predicament. “I hear all these things about Johnny’s back and isn’t it nice, and I sure appreciate it. I know I have the respect of the other players out here, maybe even more so now than before. But things are different. I have a different game, a different swing, a different mental attitude. You can’t turn the clock back,” he says almost wistfully. “I am hitting the ball pretty well now,” he says, always with the disclaimer, “but it’s different. When I was at my peak, I would go into streaks where I felt like it was almost magic, that I could knock down the pin from anywhere with my irons. I can remember that I was literally getting upset that I had to putt. I was all over the hole, hitting the pin and having the ball bounce away. I just couldn’t wait to step up and hit the next shot just to see how close I could come.” He has accepted the fact that some parts of his game have returned, is proud that he was able to meet the challenge and escape from the depths, a three-year famine without a Tour victory, and happy that his home life has not suffered substantially. But the spark is gone, maybe the light of innocence on which greatness is kindled, for Miller is now a wiser old man at 34. His goals are perhaps too realistic, too attainable. He has survived the agony and is not almost too content with his new role as an elder statesman of some ability on the golf course. Yes, it is possible that swimming against the tide, trying to climb up the down staircase for three years has taken its toll on Miller, that he is physically and mentally exhausted, spent. It is even more likely, however that Miller, whose financial situation has never been a problem, simply isn’t hungry enough to continue to dedicate himself to winning a few more tournaments. He

THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH KNOWING YOU’RE GOOD
“The way I played in 1945, well, I was in a trance most of the time. My concentration had gotten so good. When I hit a bad shot, I never much thought about it. I just went on. Some people have said, ‘All the good players were off fighting the war when you won 11 straight.’ Well, Hogan played in 18 events that year, and Snead played 26 events. And at the PGA Championship [which was match play], I had to beat Gene Sarazen, Mike Turnesa, Denny Shute and Claude Harmon. It took 204 total holes, at 37-under. And my scoring average for the year was 68.3. Not that I’m bragging.” [Smiles.]

GOLF ISN’T STRESS
“I haven’t had a lot of stress, but I did when my first wife, Louise, had a stroke, on Good Friday, 1983. They said she wouldn’t live another two weeks. Well, she lived another two years. She was completely paralyzed and never spoke again, except to say, ‘Home, home, home.’ Golf isn’t stress. When the woman you’ve loved your whole life can only say ‘home,’ that’s stress.

DON’T REGRET A THING
“If I could go back in time and talk to my 20-year-old self? I’d tell him this: ‘Do it all the same.’ I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve taken care of my body and mind, I’ve done the things I wanted, and surrounded myself with wonderful friends and family. If you do that, you won’t have many regrets.”

DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, NOT WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO DO
“People think you’re supposed to do

BE NICE TO PEOPLE
“What’s always gotten me through life was this: Be nice to people. When I walk through the pearly gates and He greets me, I’d like to hear Him say, ‘Byron, you’ve been a good man. Come on in.’” 

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DeCeMBeR 2006—BYRoN NeLSoN

JANuARY 1982— JoHNNY MILLeR 

doesn’t savor the idea of becoming a folk hero ála Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus, nor does he realistically believe that it is still possible at this stage in his life. Furthermore, it is not unreasonable to conclude that this man, who has been playing and studying golf since the age of five no longer finds as much fun in the game or the circus that surrounds it on the pro level. Miller, who is very introspective and brutally honest with himself says, “I will never again let my life get out of control as it did for those few years when I was on top. I never really wanted to be No. 1 and a big shot, have people playing up to me all the time. I wasn’t comfortable with any of it. I always felt that I would rather be out fishing or home with my family than at some cocktail party with a group of VIPs.” Then the music all but stopped, and what became news that Miller shot 76 rather than seven under par. In every town the Tour visited, the headlines would invariably ask, “Whatever Happened to Johnny Miller?” And the true measure of Miller, the man, came to the forefront. He never showed any bitterness. Not once, to this reporter’s knowledge, did he ever refuse an interview. He accepted what he calls “the hits” from the press with a graciousness seldom exhibited by the golden boy athletes of our times, who have a bad day and turn on the press or run for the showers. At his lowest ebb, a national magazine featured a piece on Miller entitled “The Selling of a Loser,” in which the author detailed Miller’s earning ability and marketing genius of his agent, ed Barner. “That article was very poor in timing, and proved to be the straw that broke up my relationship with Barner,” Miller states. “I told him beforehand I didn’t want to do the interview, because it really would serve no purpose, as badly as I was playing. I had to make a decision about my game, find some direction for myself and here I was set up with all types of props looking like I was enjoying putting something over on the rest of the world.” But Miller to this day doesn’t blame the publication or the writer for the dastardly overtones

of the article. “I never mind it when a reporter is factual. If he said I was playing terribly, it was true. If he said I was making money with my service contracts, it was true. But I felt bad enough that I was letting those people down, those people and companies who supported me and were good to me.” Miller swallowed it, almost gagging, and set out to restructure his life and regain his selfrespect, this time without the help of Barner. At the time he had five kids to worry about and a fine wife, who was quietly supportive. He was tempted for a while to hang it up, call it a career, try something else, rid himself of the self-doubt that penetrated every fiber of his being. “I’m not much of a student,” Miller says un hesitatingly, “but during my slump I had taken to reading the Scriptures a good bit as well as a few pieces on philosophy and life. And I remember having read a statement that went something like this: ‘It’s not what you accomplish in life, but what you overcome.’ That haunted me more than anything else. There was the one side of me that said, ‘Let’s quit,’ and the other side that kept asking, ‘What have you overcome?’ I kept thinking I have never climbed any mountains. I’ve worked hard and ridden the crest of the waves all these years. But it all came relatively easy. I never before experienced anything like that slump, and I refused to let it get the better of me. I couldn’t give up.” He worked on his own schedule, remaining very understanding of a trying household situation in which his wife, Linda, was attempting to raise five children. “She was having just as hard a time at home as I was on the golf course,” Miller said blatantly. His travel was held to a minimum, and his game plan meant developing a new way of thinking as well as physical adjustments. And Miller discerned that talent just doesn’t disappear. He counseled himself, remembering that throngs of enthusiasts had written him off, “that a lot of people just enjoy seeing car wrecks,” and that he found out, most importantly, that his game now lent itself toward maneuver-

ing the ball rather than trying to hit everything straight, that he would have to attack the golf course in a different manner, that he would have to be more patient and recover the feel of the clubhead, which had inadvertently been lose due to his muscle building program. “I knew then, in the beginning of the 1977 season, that I was in for a lot of trouble. I had lost all touch and I had always been pretty much of a feel player.” So, after a poor year in 1977, a season in which Miller says he should have known enough to go home and forget the Tour for a couple of years, he had to rededicated himself to a program that incorporated all the fundamentals. He had to stop trying to think of alternatives. “I thought of politics and possibly opening a golf camp and teaching. But then I would say to myself, ‘You can’t quit now, not until you’ve come back or at least given it a good honest run.’ I did not want to quit a loser. I didn’t want that more than anything else.” Ironically, amid all the smoke and self-doubt, Miller never truly believed he was washed up. “I am a survivor,” he says. “I have a cunning instinct. Like when I was a kid, if I get lost in the woods, I would always be able to find my way out.” And he cites the teachings of his dad as the main reason for his individuality and creativity and ultimately his success on the golf course. “My father always said if you wanted to be the best, you would have to do a lot of things others were not willing to do. He taught me never to be a follower. If you are the instigator you will accomplish the things that you want.” When Miller looks back he sees another father figure, a man for whom he has the greatest respect, Jack Nicklaus. All during the time I was struggling, Jack was amazingly supportive. When some reporter or fan would ask him about me, he would say, ‘Johnny will be back. He’s too good a player not to win again.’ You don’t know how much help that was to me coming from the greatest player in the game.” Although Miller has accepted the fact that he has met his most recent foals and readily

admits that he must establish new ones, he continues to look back on his performances of the early ‘70s as a barometer. “If they had the Tour stats back in those days, it would have been embarrassing,” he claims stoically as he considered his relative status. “I am not going to be No. 1 and I don’t deserve to be; I don’t play enough, or practice enough, and I am just thrilled to death that I was able to win two tournaments this year and another last season. That’s plenty. Golf is not everything to me the way it is to some players. My family and my relationship with my children, which now is strong, are far more significant. What Miller doesn’t say is that he was leading the Tour stats in greens in regulation and scoring in 1981 until he tore a rotator cuff just before the u.S. open, and that even though the injury hampered his play, he still managed to finish among the leaders in both categories. Yes, it was more than just a mild comeback these last two years. It was a resounding triumph, a Rocky-type run “up the Down Staircase.” Miller has overcome, a true accomplishment, and maybe there is a bit of that magic left.

“I never before experienced anything like that slump, and I refused to let it get the better of me. I couldn’t give up.” 

JANuARY 1982— JoHNNY MILLeR

JANuARY 1982— JoHNNY MILLeR   

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Gary Player
JUNE 9
About blacks in golf, traveling 5,000 miles a year, what makes a championship golfer and more, with Gary Player
Historical and geographical circumstances have both served to make Gary Player’s highly successful tenure at the top of the world’s golf scene one of mixed blessings. Or so it would seem, at least. His homeland is South Africa. That one fact is the two-pronged fork that punctures slightly what might otherwise be the totally free-flying balloon of his outstanding success. Even with today’s convenient and quick air travel, Gary is relatively isolated from the so-called “Big Apple” of his profession, the U.S. PGA tournament circuit, and even from the lesser hubs of world golf. Thus, Gary has probably traveled more miles than any other champion golfer the game has had—travel that has meant long stretches of time very far from his home and family. That’s the geography. Historically, Gary came to the pinnacle of the game of golf at a time when the movement toward racial equality throughout the world, and especially in the U.S., reached a high peak, or pitch, if you will. Since Gary was, and is, a leading athletic figure from a country with very definite and strict ideas and policies of separation between its black and white peoples, he was inevitably thrust into the arena of social questions. He became an easy target for those who wished to demonstrate against racism generally and his country’s own racial practices. That Gary has done as well as he has under the circumstances of his time and place in the world is something of a marvel. In this exclusive interview, Gary Player talks about these things. While at times it may seem he has not entirely resolves the various conflicts with which he lives, he most assuredly is a man trying to do so.—AL BARKoW

entertain the notion, how could you stop? You’re extremely successful—a great championship golfer—and this is your profession, your lifework. PLAYER: Right. But, you see, money isn’t
everything.

GOLF MAGAZINE: No wonder you play so hard over here. With all this traveling for so many years, has your zest for the game—for tournament golf—diminished much? PLAYER: I would say I’m in a very confused
state of my career right now. My children are at an age when they really need me around. I think the reason you have delinquents is because parents don’t do enough with their kids. Now they need me. And it’s very difficult for my wife, too. The responsibility is very much all hers for a good part of the time. And I get homesick. I’ll get back to the motel and I’ll think, there’s a lot of space at home and my daughter could be giving me hugs and things like that. It can be terrible lonely out here.

“I’ll tell you what stirred me up. Everybody was under the impression that a black man could not go to South Africa and compete”

GOLF MAGAZINE: It always appears that even now, with all the great success you’ve had, you’re still trying to find ways to hit the ball better. PLAYER: Sure, because I feel I still have a
great lack of knowledge about golf I think there is still an awful lot to be learned about it. I’d say the man who definitely has the most knowledge of golf is Ben Hogan. He’s the only man who has studied it from “A to zed.” The golf game is a puzzle. You’ve hundreds of pieces and you’ve got to know where each piece fits in. When I hit a bad shot I don’t want to say, oh, that’s just another bad shot. I want to know why. And when I hit a good shot, I want to know why also. This is a very difficult game, as you say. At school I was a three-letter man and all those sports put together weren’t as tough as golf.

AuTHoR TK • Senior Writer, GoLF Magazine

time to time playing in our tournaments. Look, I’m the first to admit that there’s a lot of things wrong in South Africa, but there are things wrong everywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter where you go. There is no such thing as utopia. Anyway, I also felt that the black golfer over here have been so nice to me—all of them have been extremely charming—and I wanted to show the black people that a black man can go to South Africa and compete. I felt I wanted to return a little bit of the hospitality to the blacks over here who have been very nice to me. And also, it would give black golfers in South Africa a tremendous amount of encouragement by seeing a top American black golfer in their country.

GOLF MAGAZINE: When the Elder trip was announced, some black American members of the House of Representatives said your invitation was a kind of grandstand play—that you knew Elder wouldn’t be allowed to go to South Africa—that you were just trying to make a good impression on Americans. PLAYER: We are never going to solve our
problems by tug-o’-war. The only way to do it is by communicating—getting together. I’m a great believer in this. I really believe a fellow like Lee elder should be invited to the Masters. I think it would be a great gesture on behalf of the Masters.

GOLF MAGAZINE: Let’s talk about Lee Elder’s trip to South Africa and black golfers in your country. You once said that it’s not an athlete’s business to get involved in politics or in national or social questions in any country. But the fact is, you have involved yourself, haven’t you? PLAYER: Yes, but slightly. I think a man can
have certain things to say.

GOLF MAGAZINE: Your inviting Lee Elder to play golf in South Africa was a step in what direction? PLAYER: Well, I’ll tell you what stirred me up. everybody was under the impression that a black man could not go to South Africa and compete. GOLF MAGAZINE: You mean, it wasn’t true? PLAYER: It wasn’t. We’ve had black from

GOLF MAGAZINE: The last major championship you won was in 98. You going to win another one, or two? PLAYER: oh, I
think I’ll win quite a few more majors.

GOLF MAGAZINE: You sound as though you could quit it all right now. Of course, you’re not going to. But even if you did seriously 

JuNe 1972—GARY PLAYeR

JuNe 1972—GARY PLAYeR  

8 

9

Payne Stewart
REMEMBERING MY FATHER • JUNE 998
Payne Stewart grew up in America’s heartland, Springfield, Missouri, son of Bill Stewart, a furniture salesman whose life on the road he would someday understand all too well. In 985, Bill Stewart died of cancer. He was only . Two years later Payne Stewart donated his winning check from the 98 Bay Hill Invitational to the Florida Hospital Circle of Friends in his father’s honor.
I never met anyone more competitive or more intense than my father. My eight-grade basketball team was playing on the road in the regional finals. As usual he was sitting in the crowd, letting the official know exactly what he thought of every single call. I guess since he himself had refereed basketball games after graduating from college, he felt he had the authority. No doubt he had the voice. It was so loud you could hear him from any part of the arena, and he knew it. Finally, one of the officials, tired of being abused by some obnoxious stranger in the stands—and who could blame him?—called a technical foul. My coach went berserk. “Who is that technical on?” he shouted. “That man up there in the orange sweater,” the referee responded. Thanks a lot, Dad, I felt like shouting at him. I couldn’t hide far enough away on the bench. How could he do this to me? I vowed right there and then that I would never do that to my children. So much for the innocent vows of youth, I recently did the same thing. I screamed at the umpire during my son’s baseball game. As exasperate as the official 25 years ago, the umpire turned around and said, “Any more out of you and you’re out of here.” I laughed, flashing back immediately to eighth grade. Yes, I had become my father. You know what, I’m glad. Because that man, wiser than I ever realized, taught me how to compete and how to care passionately about whatever you’re doing, which, in my profession, is absolutely essential. I certainly brought a lot of passion to the golf course, probably because my father made me so mad. When I missed a short putt one time, he chuckled and said, “You got your right hand in there.” The next hole, when I missed another short one, he started laughing even louder. Nobody got to me like that. Years later, I figured out that he was showing me that the game—and life itself—would always be filled with distractions. You either succumb to them or you survive them. He taught me how to survive them. on the golf course Dad was more my friend than my instructor. A few years into my marriage, however, he handed my wife a sheet of paper filled with scribbled instructions, such as: “Watch Payne’s head. Make sure his left foot is back and his right foot is up. Watch his address. Make sure he finished high. Watch his speed on putting,” and so forth. Did he already know that at the time? Were the notes his parting gift to me? I don’t know. I’ll never know. I still
PAYNe STeWART • Contributing editor, GoLF Magazine

have the sheet. My wife framed it for me one Christmas. My dad hated golf carts, so we had plenty of time to talk on the course. one conversation I clearly remember is when I was preparing for my freshman year of SMu. He figured the moment had finally arrived to give me the famous father-son, birds-and-the-bees talk. So what if he was five years late? Maybe he needed some extra time to compose his thoughts. I’m so much like him. I am also a traveling salesman of sorts, hopping from one town to another to do my job. I know how painful it is to be away from one’s family for a long period of time. That’s why I marvel at the way he was able to endure it. He left Monday mornings and returned Thursday evenings, sometimes Friday evenings, but he always devoted plenty of attention to us when he was home. What I experienced as a child has helped me be more sensitive to how my kids feel when I’m away for weeks at a time. Money never meant that much to my dad. That’s probably because he didn’t have a tremendous amount of it. My father provided us with everything we needed, but the dollar never became an almighty object of adoration, as it is for so many people these days. He once looked at the new house I had built and said, “Why do you need something like that?” He couldn’t understand excess. That was his generation. My generation is different. We swim in excess. But even though I’ve accumulated many toys—I fly on a private plane. For goodness sake—I think I’ve always understood, thanks to him, that money is not the answer in life. Did my dad enjoy his work? I don’t know. It’s not the kind of question one things about as a kid. I hope he did. I know, like many others who grew up in the Depression, it was very important to him that his children go to college and no child of Bill Stewart’s was going to drop out of college to go to work. He never allowed me to downgrade education. I grew up knowing that if someday I couldn’t hit 4irons anymore, at least I would have a college degree to fall back on.

He prepared me for everything. everything, that is, except his death. That, he neglected. The one memory that immediately pops out from his fight with cancer is the last day my father and I saw each other. My wife and I had just learned she was pregnant with our first child. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell him. I also felt that the timing could not have been any better. I was sure it would cheer him up. He was sleeping in his favorite chair when I walked up to him and whispered: “Dad, I got a secret to tell you. I’m going to be a daddy.” His eyes opened up and he smiled. He was going to be a grandfather. I expected him to congratulate me, to express his joy, to say something poignant, perhaps even break down. But, I swear to God, the first thing he said was, “Don’t buy expensive baby furniture.” That was such a typical Dad thing to say. I probably should have been a little annoyed, but I wasn’t. That was his way of expressing love. I gave him a big hug and kiss for the last time. Funny thing is, I never cried at the funeral, which no one could figure out. I’m a very emotional person. I suppose that as the new man of the family, I had to show strength. Six months later I took my baby daughter back home to Springfield. We went to the cemetery and sat down. I finally had my big cry.

“I certainly brought a lot of passion to the golf course, probably because my father made me so mad.” 

0

JuNe 1998—PAYNe STeWART

JuNe 1998—PAYNe STeWART   

MY FIFTY YEARS IN GOLF • MARCH 980
Each year, the pro-ams played before, and sometimes during, the various Tour events raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. Undoubtedly, the most famous performer connected with a tournament is Bob Hope, whose Desert Classic has raised over 5 million dollars through the years. Some 0 percent of this money has been distributed to The Eisenhower Memorial National Center. But the star of this event is still Bob Hope. At , Hope is a living American institution. As a performer, he has made absolutely no concessions to age. If money doesn’t motivate him anymore, audiences still do. And few entertainers of any age are more active. Hope’s passion for golf is also totally undiminished.

Bob Hope

How would you rate the U.S. Presidents with whom you’ve played?
Without a doubt, Gerald Ford is the best. He’s a powerful golfer who can hit the ball 250 yards—in any direction. You carry his clubs and it’s like Ranger training; his caddies wear green berets. President Kennedy would have been a supurb golfer if he had given more time to the game. Nixon would probably be a 14-handicapper. He scrunches up his body when he gets over the ball and doesn’t finish with his hands high enough. But you don’t tell a president how he should swing. eisenhower? No one got as much pleasure as he did out of a fine shot or breaking 90. Before taking his stance he would sometimes lift his arms in supplication and look skyward, beseeching: “God give me strength to hit it easy.” And Ike played like a general. every time he stroked a putt, he snapped to attention and barked, “Fall in!” Actually, playing with Presidents is very good for your manners, too. You keep finding yourself saying, “oh, that one’s good, Mr. President. You can pick it up.”

Did your on-stage rivalry with Bing Crosby carry serious undertones on the golf course?
No, because there was never any doubt who the better player was. Bing gave me two shots a side. He was club champion at Lakeside three times and much the better player. What made him good? Practice. Bing would hit a bucket of balls at 6 a.m. before he came to the studio. If we cut any length of time, he’d run over again and beat more balls while I’d go across the street to Lucy’s Restaurant, sit on a stool and talk to the help and the customers.

AuTHoR TK • Senior Writer, GoLF Magazine

How active is your role in the Bob Hope Desert Classic?
I’m just a front man. The organizers do the work. I take a couple of tables, play some golf with Gerald Ford and appear on television. But I’m proud to be associated with a tournament that raised $900,000 for 40 charities last year and $845,000 the year before that.

Who was the best golfer you ever saw?
Singling one out is, or course, difficult. But I would have to say that no one I saw struck the ball better than Byron Nelson.

How much golf do you play today?
If I’m not traveling, I play anywhere from 36 to 90 holes a week. If I can’t get out for nine holes, I’ll try to squeeze in a bucket of balls. even when I’m working at the NBC Studios in Burbank, I’ll slip out to the driving range next door.

Do you play as well as you used to play?
I don’t do anything as well as I used to. Today my handicap is 15. In 1951, when I was at my golfing peak, it was four. In those days Ben Hogan tutored me.

For what kind of stakes do you normally play for?
A $10 or $20 Nassau is my idea of fun, but I have gone higher. Before we finally teed up together, Jackie Gleason and I sat around needling each other at Toots Shor’s for 10 years. When we went head-to-head at Muirfield, Jack Nicklaus’s course, we started at $100 a hole.

“actually, playing with Presidents is very good for your manners, too. You keep finding yourself saying, “Oh, that one’s good, Mr. President. You can pick it up.”

What appeal does golf hold for you now?
It’s still a battle against yourself. It’s also a diversion and exercise for me. I just feel better after I play. It’s done an awful lot for my health. I would play tennis if I didn’t have to jump over the net when I won. 

MARCH 1980—BoB HoPe

MARCH 1980—BoB HoPe 

5

Ben Hogan
SEPTEMBER 98
“The Hawk” -- winner of  PGA Tournaments and 9 Major Championships over a storied -year professional career -- sat down with GOLF Magazine on the eve of 00 years of golf in America to reflect on his career, debunk several myths, and share the keys that made him golf’s shrewdest tactician.
GOLF: You were on the Tour for a decade before you started to blossom. Do you still think that’s still possible on today’s Tour, with 150 players going at it and more young talent coming out of college every year? HOGAN: I think so, yes. There’s no set time or schedule for developing one’s skills as a professional golfer, and it certainly doesn’t come overnight. It’s a muscle-memory exercise that comes over time. GOLF: You’re saying it’s possible for a player to be on the Tour for 10 years before breaking through for, say, two dozen victories in the next decade? HOGAN: Absolutely, if that player is willing to work hard. otherwise, he’s likely to be out there frustrating himself for another 25 years. GOLF: What was it that drove you so hard? HOGAN: Three things. one, I didn’t want to be a burden to my mother. Two, I needed to put food on the table. Three, I needed a place to sleep. GOLF: once you and your family were eating well and sleeping comfortably, then what drove you? HOGAN: Pride. Determination. I saw an opportunity. And when you see an opportunity, you practice and work, at least from sunup to sundown. GOLF: In your own words, you “dug it out of the ground.” HOGAN: That’s right. GOLF: Did you compete against yourself, against the golf course or against the rest of the field? HOGAN: All three. First I went after the golf course. Generally, I figured that if I could beat the course I could stay ahead of the competition. ultimately, however, I guess I played against my own standards. It was a constant struggle of one kind or another—but always a pleasant one. GOLF: Most golfers have had an experience while practicing when suddenly something clicks. It’s sort of a “eureka!” feeling, and although it may last only for a day or two, it feels wonderful. Have you ever had that sort of experience? HOGAN: Yes, years ago. When I first started on Tour, I had a terrible problem with a hook and I struggled constantly to learn to fade the ball. Finally, one day I said to myself, “Henny Bogan, you have got to go home and correct this. otherwise you’re never gonna make a living.”

So I came home for two weeks and worked and thought about my game. I’ll never forget, one night in bed I got an idea, something I might try. Well, I could barely wait for the sun to come up the next morning. out I went to the practice tee and started trying out my theory. It worked. It worked all day long. And the next day. And the next day too. So I said, I’ve got to take this our on Tour and put it under some pressure. The next week was the George May Tournament in Chicago—and in those days he had two events, back to back. A big field of players competed the first week, and then the top 12 from that tournament went on to play for big money the following week. Well, I went up there and won both of them. GOLF: What was that inspiration? HOGAN: (smiling) I’m not telling. GOLF: But you’re also a believer, are you not, that once basic mechanics are learned, good golf is 90 percent mental? HOGAN: That’s right, it’s all management. even as I practiced visualizing shots and making the ball move in different ways on the range. otherwise, it’s nothing but calisthenics. When the shot I visualized didn’t come off, I might hit 20 more before I got it right. But once you’ve learned how to hit those shots, golf is all management. Certainly, if you can’t manage your game, you can’t play tournament golf. You continually have to ask yourself what club to play, where to aim it, whether to accept a safe par or to try to go for a birdie. You can’t play every hole the same way. I never could.

GOLF: Today’s Tour players seem to play more mechanically, especially in regard to judging distances. every pro has a yardage book in his pocket. HOGAN: I know it, and I think that’s terrible. When I played, we never had those cards that told us the pin was 20 feet from the front edge and 15 feet from the left-hand bunker. Those things have taken away about 80 percent of the feel of playing golf. Heck, they give them the answer to the foot. They’ve taken the creativity out of professional golf. GOLF: How often have you ever tried to hit a ball dead straight? HOGAN: Never. GOLF: Never? HOGAN: Jesus Christ can’t hit a golf ball straight. It’s virtually impossible—at best it’s an accident. Besides, you give yourself much more margin for error by maneuvering your shots one way or the other. Much more control. GOLF: You sought the unattainable in golf—perfection. But surely you had your days of near-perfection. What would you say was a great day of ball striking when you were in your prime? HOGAN: That’s very hard to say. on a good day—even your best—you’re going to miss some shots. The guy who misses the fewest usually wins. on my best days, I guess I got through 18 holes with only three or four missed shots. GOLF: How often do you hit balls these days? HOGAN: As often as my health and the weather allow me. on a nice day, I’ll go out with a cart to a practice area at Shady oaks [in Fort Worth], hit 25 balls or so, then go down and pick them up and hit them again. GOLF: Are you still learning about the swing? HOGAN: Yes, I think I am, although these days I get very few surprises.

“On a good day–even your best– you’re going to miss some shots. The guy who misses the fewest usually wins.”

AuTHoR TK • Senior Writer, GoLF Magazine 

SePTeMBeR 1987—BeN HoGAN

SePTeMBeR 1987—BeN HoGAN 

Arnold Palmer & Jack Nicklaus
MAY 99
Golf’s two leading legends go head to head as never before
A quarter century after their battles for domination of the pro Tour, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus remain the two biggest names in golf. However, what was once the game’s most heated rivalry has simmered into the game’s most complex friendship. editor-in-Chief George Peper corralled the two titans of the GoLF Magazine masthead for a candid discussion that ranged from their assessments of each other’s games to their opinions on what’s good—and not so—about golf today. board didn’t have any regular names up there. When I came on, I had Arnold, I had those guys you were beating, and I had a couple other guys, but not many. My point is that Arnold was in place as a dominant player for several years before my days began.
AuTHoR NAMe TK • Senior Writer, GoLF Magazine

GOLF Magazine: They say that golf reveals personality. Do you think that applies to each other?
Palmer: Jack has a tremendous ability to focus totally on what he’s doing, whether that’s on the course or off. Nicklaus: Arnold’s personality has revealed itself in everything he does—in his game, the way he carries himself down the fairway, in the way he’s won the support of the public. He does things aggressively, with a flair. He was a better “get the ball in the hole” guy than he was a striker of the ball. When he became a better striker of the ball, I think it actually went against his personality, and I’m not sure it helped his game. Suddenly, he was rarely in trouble—rarely in a position to charge and go after something. Arnold always played his best when he could allow that personality to come out—when he could drive it in the trees and savor the challenge. He was unique in that way.

there are guys out there who have been on the Tour for 15 years, have never won a golf tournament, and are making a pretty good living.

GOLF Magazine: And do those guys deserve to be out there?
Palmer: I’ll abstain from answering that one, but, personally, I don’t think I’d stay on the Tour if I didn’t think I could win, if I weren’t winning at a reasonable pace. Nicklaus: Today, the kids in college play a lot of medal tournaments. Their whole attitude is “if I can finish well, it’s okay.” They aren’t even conditioned to win.

GOLF Magazine: You both have confessed that you enjoy nothing more then beating each other’s brains out. Is that true even in casual practice rounds?
Nicklaus: over the years, Arnold’s the only guy I’ve played against for more then $10. We usually play for $20. Palmer: Yes, although we never needed the money to make it interesting.

GOLF Magazine: So you’re saying that for a lot of today’s players, 0th place is fine.
Nicklaus: For some of them. Today, there are thousands of guys trying to play the Tour— it’s completely different. We only had 10 guys to beat, and we knew if we beat those guys we’d win tournaments. Hell’s bells, the guys today have about a hundred guys to beat!

GOLF Magazine: You guys have what has been called the game’s most complicated friendship. Agree?
Nicklaus: I agree that we’ve both led very complicated lives, and certainly we’ve competed in everything we’ve done. We’ve had moments when we’ve disagreed, we’ve had moments when we fought each other right down to the end of the tournament, and we’ve had moments when we’ve fought each other for last place. Palmer: There have been times when we’ve fought each other so hard that we’ve let others go by us. But frankly, I think our rivalry, if that’s what you want to call it, would have been even more intense if we were the same age. Nicklaus: That’s right. It’s worth remembering that we came into this game at different times. Arnold, when you came on Tour, you basically had only two or three other guys to beat, right? Palmer: Well… Nicklaus: I’m not belittling what you did, but you know what I mean—the leader-

GOLF Magazine: Who’s up lifetime?
Nicklaus: He is Palmer: (Laughing) But it doesn’t matter because Jack never pays up anyway. Nicklaus: I’d rather owe it to you and then beat you out of it.

GOLF Magazine: Speaking of debts, Arnie, you gave Jack a short-game lesson when he first came on the Tour—about the wisdom of putting rather than chipping from the fringe. Jack says he’s followed that advice ever since. Has he ever repaid you with a tip for your game?
Palmer: Yes, but it took him about three decades! A couple years back, on the practice tee at the Tradition, I was getting a lesson from old college buddy Jim Flick. At the time, I was having more trouble than usual with my nemesis—getting enough trajectory on my shots. As Jim and I were talking, Jack walked over, watched me hit a few shots, and then made some helpful comments. To be honest, I’ve never sought much help from Jack—or anyone else for that matter— but in that case, I figured he was worth listening to. After all, who in history has been better at hitting the ball up in the air than Jack Nicklaus?

“The things that have happened to me because of an ability to hit a little white ball a little better than somebody else have been pretty special.”

GOLF Magazine: Jack, you touched on Arnold’s popularity with the fans. When your rivalry was most heated, what effect did the public’s preference for Arnold have on you?
Nicklaus: I was very much aware of it, of course, and I can’t say I was able to blot it out. When the fans are rooting for the player you are trying to beat and not for you, you can’t ignore it. But I don’t think it ever hurt me—probably in more cases it helped: It made me more determined.

GOLF Magazine: What about the most successful players? Has all the money spoiled some of them?
Palmer: I think today’s athletes generally are spoiled by what’s happened to salaries, but I also think that golfers have maintained the best demeanor of any sport. Nicklaus: Some Tour players have been spoiled, but not anywhere near to the point of baseball and basketball players sitting on the bench and earning $7 million. Whatever our guys earn, they earn.

GOLF Magazine: You guys said that when you were out there your sole object was to win; finishing second and just making money didn’t mean much. How many players on the current Tour do you think feel that way?
Nicklaus: Norman and Faldo. Those two guys are about the only ones who when they step onto the first tee of any golf tournament, feel they are there solely to win.

GOLF Magazine: So today’s big purses—which allow a player to finish back in the pack each week yet still make a living— have had no effect on the player’s incentives?
Palmer: Certainly times have changed. Now 

8

MAY 1994—PALMeR / NICKLAuS

MAY 1994—PALMeR / NICKLAuS 

9

GOLF Magazine: Is the game of golf better off than it was, say, 0 years ago?
Palmer: Sure it’s better because more people play it. Golf has spread all over the world in the last 30 years—it’s become available to virtually everyone, and that’s a good thing.

and lay up. Gary Player won a couple of major championships without ever pulling a driver out of his bag. You know that, don’t you?

GOLF Magazine: Okay, now why is the game worse than it was 0 years ago?
Palmer: I have a concern that—as part of this same expansion—we might lose some of the integrity and etiquette and tradition that has made the game so great. I think it’s incumbent on those of us who know and revere those things to preserve and protect the game. I hate flimsy things, and I fear that golf could become flimsy if we don’t all pay attention to educating new golfers on the rules and etiquette.

GOLF Magazine: At this point in your lives, if you were forced to choose between playing golf for the rest of your days or pursuing your business careers and playing no golf, which would it be?
Palmer: Golf, of course. But you knew I’d say that.

GOLF Magazine: Yes, but I wasn’t too sure what Jack would say….
Nicklaus: C’mon…I’d choose golf, too. The only reason to choose otherwise would be if my body wouldn’t let me play without pain, or if I were so hampered that I couldn’t enjoy it any more. Palmer: Yeah, I guess I agree. So far, I’ve been pretty fortunate. At age 64, I can still stand on the tee and hit it pretty good. When that’s no longer the case, I suspect my attitude will change.

GOLF Magazine: Where, if anywhere, do you see the game threatened?
Nicklaus: The one thing that has really upset me is in the equipment area. And it’s happened only in tournament golf. Today, because of the advancements in equipment—many of which admittedly have been good for the average player—the game’s best players are not shotmakers, and in that I think the game has lost something. The manufacturers have taken over a lot of the game.

GOLF Magazine: You guys are probably two of the 00 most recognizable names and faces in the world. Do you ever sit back and consider the mindboggling magnitude of that celebrity?
Palmer: No, I don’t think about it, and when others begin to talk to me in that way, I quickly pass it off. Nicklaus: I’ve sat back and thought that the things that have happened to me because of an ability to hit a little white ball a little better than somebody else have been pretty special. And to have been awarded some of the status and gone to some of the places I have is pretty unusual and pretty nice. But it drives me crazy when I go home and a good friend, say a tennis partner, starts in with that “Who you are, what you are” stuff. My response is usually something like, “Serve the ball, will you?”

GOLF Magazine: Is the best technology the kind that helps the average golfer but doesn’t help you?
Nicklaus: Yeah, I think the average guy should get all the help he can. This is a very very difficult game. But we shouldn’t let those advancements creep into professional golf.

“The things that have happened to me because of an ability to hit a little white ball a little better than somebody else have been pretty special.”

GOLF Magazine: Do you agree with that, Arnie?
Palmer: Not completely. I still think it ties to the abilities of a player. If the long hitting player can’t hit his drivers straight enough, he should have the ability to throttle back 

0

MAY 1994—PALMeR / NICKLAuS