On and off the fairways

The journalistic efforts of Player, Magee et al.—a report on the touring prose
July 20, 1958

The ever-present bogeyman for members of the traveling golf brigade is the weekly expense of $150-$200. The players therefore keep a constant and sharp eye out for fresh sources of income to augment their winnings. One literate group of half a dozen or so pros, who feel that if the pen is not mightier than the pitching wedge it can at least turn a neat dollar or two, has established arrangements whereby they are employed as traveling golf correspondents for various home-town newspapers or magazines. This golfer-writer fraternity consists of quiet, amiable Al Balding (Toronto Globe and Mail); Jerry Magee (Toronto Telegram); Australia's highly intelligent, articulate Peter Thomson (Melbourne Herald group); Bruce Crampton (Sydney Daily Telegraph); South Africa's Gary Player (Johannesburg Star); and Louisiana's Johnny Pott (Southern Golfer), the only embryonic Faulkner among the American pros.

Player has been filing some 250 words to the Star after every round he plays. Prior to the National Open the 22-year-old South African had suffered a worrisome back injury, but he cabled quiet reassurance to his readers:

Fortunately, my back has healed after a lot of treatment and trouble which prevented me from having more than one practice.

Then he continued with his typical restraint:

This course appears so difficult that I will be quite happy if I do 300 or better, and I think 288 could win the title.... If there is even a slight breeze scores are likely to be bad.... On a course like this in the Commonwealth, I would hardly expect to see 300 broken for the tournament.

With the Open over, he was candid and confiding:

Finishing second in the American Open has given me possibly the greatest thrill of my life. It is amazing to think that four shots prevented me from becoming a really wealthy man, but I am young and must have patience.

The suave, curly-haired Australian Bruce Crampton, while conversationally charming, would be well-advised not to fling away his clubs in any sudden decision to make his fortune at the typewriter. Crampton's style features brief, staccato bursts of prose, but his paper, the Daily Telegraph, goes in for hard, colorless copy, and Brace's dispatches may lose something in the editing. Here's a sample from one of his National Open previews:

I am lucky to be the only Australian in the American Open golf championship which starts on Thursday....

It's tough to get into the U.S. Open.

I made it and am thrilled to be Australia's only representative....

The entry is so large that qualifying rounds are played on 30 courses in different parts of America....

They really go in for golf in America.

Jerry Magee, the handsome young Canadian who went to the semifinals of the 1956 U.S. Amateur, sends an informative, well-written column that appears in the Toronto Telegram once a week under the heading, "Magee on Golf." Jerry is a freshman on the tour and emphasizes the problems a rookie must face. For example, just after the Derby Open in Louisville last April he wrote:

The weather was very warm and this dried out the greens considerably. Most of the pros played a punch shot to the greens, which means the ball lands well in front and bounces forward to the green. A certain amount of luck is needed on this type of shot, and for this reason many excellent players shot high scores.

Gary Player played very well in winning his first American tournament. His style of play was well suited to the course. It seems most of the foreign players use the pitch and run shot more than we do and this accounts for their great ability to control it....

The pitch and run shot is used more each week and, after watching good golf shots bounce over the green with a regular flight to the ball, you soon realize the meaning of that old adage: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Magee has regularly displayed a quality that separates a real writer from the boys: philosophical even after his bad tournaments, he never blames his caddie, the greenkeeper or the St. Lawrence Seaway.

PHOTOIN THE PRESS TENT GARY PLAYER BELTS OUT FINAL OPEN DISPATCH IN LONGHAND

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)