There has been comment that Gary Player's victory in last week's U.S. Open was a dull one. This is not so, as those discerning golf followers who saw the action at Bellerive Country Club well know. It was a golf version of watching Sugar Ray box 15 rounds to a decision, or seeing Sandy Koufax beat Juan Marichal 1-0; you had to appreciate the subtleties. But what certainly was missing, and took the lustre from the Open, was the absence of the climactic and traditional 36-hole final day.
The USGA now has tested its new four-day format—one arrived at to accommodate television. By changing the Open to suit TV the USGA hopes it can make a package television deal that will include the relatively unwanted Women's Open and U.S. Amateur. But what the USGA has managed to do is to tarnish the country's finest golf tournament by killing its distinctive feature—the 36-hole final. The old format should be restored at once. Then let the USGA put its TV package on the open market. We'll bet the networks will be in there bidding for it.
NHL GOES BIG LEAGUE
Ice hockey may well be the world's speediest sport, but no one in his right mind everaccused the National Hockey League of hasty movement. Like a novice content to practice figure eights in a quiet corner of a vast public rink, the NHL has long been content to skate aloof in its private little six-city circle, while the whole vast continent of North America clamored for big-league hockey.
Last week, however, though not exactly tossing caution to the winds, the NHL took what seemed to be a definite, if diffident, step onto the broader ice. After a special league meeting, President Clarence Campbell announced the NHL's formal intention of expanding to 12 teams by 1968, and threw open the door to formal applications from anyone with an arena seating 12,500 or more and $2 million of backing to go with it. Teams from St. Louis and Los Angeles, added Campbell, have fulfilled the qualifications already and "could go tomorrow."
The NHL franchise-tenders may soon be busy as a goalie during a power play as the syndicates rush to get in. Rival groups from San Francisco and Oakland (the latter backed by Bing Crosby) are already elbowing each other aside. Other contenders include Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington and Houston, with Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Winnipeg and Quebec also pressing in.
Whatever effect all this may have on the staid proprietors of the NHL, it cannot help but liven up the game of hockey.
Backache is a relatively new human ailment, peculiar to today's sedentary man, according to Hans Kraus, M.D., who treated President John F. Kennedy's back for some years and has just come out with a book on the subject: The Cause, Prevention and Treatment of Backache, Stress and Tension (Simon and Schuster, $4.50). It tells how to test your susceptibility to backache and gives exercises for sick backs, but what interested us most was a chapter entitled "Running, Yes; Golf, Maybe; Football, No." Dr. Kraus holds that some sports are better than others for release of tension, a prime cause of backache, and that some are of substantially no value, or even harmful to the tense.
Running, for instance, is "by far and away the best thing you can do," provided you warm up and cool off properly. Swimming, bicycling, hiking, gymnastics have his warm approval, too. And so, to a lesser extent, do skiing, tennis, rowing and boxing, though of skiing he points out that, what with chair lifts and all, it "is a good example of how we try to get the most pleasure from the least work." It has, he says, "become the sport of the nonathlete."
As for golf, "One of our great fallacies about golf is the notion that it is a relaxing game." It does not relax at all, says Dr. Kraus. Instead, "it is filled with mental tension from the first tee to the 18th green." Boxing, on the other hand, is "most beneficial," if protective equipment is used and it does not get "too competitive."
As for football, it is "legalized assault" with overwhelming chances for injury. And in many ways touch football is worse, since an extra hard block can create resentment and, thereby, tension. Baseball? It "cannot be viewed as a good game, either, for a sufficient physical workout." In fact, "most of the time the players, with the exception of the pitcher and catcher, simply stand around doing nothing at all."
THE SIMPLE LIFE
The most exclusive area of the Houston Astros' domed stadium is the Skydome Club, way up in the penthouse on the sixth level. It is very private and very luxurious. But while it serves fine, juicy steaks and superb caviar, it will have nothing to do with such baseball staples as hot dogs and popcorn. Efforts to smuggle a bag of peanuts into the area are doomed, since the elevators leading to it are heavily policed. Offers to pay a corkage charge have been ignored.
And so a popcorn-loving Texan did the only thing possible under the circumstances. Ben McGuire, Houston financier, installed a popcorn machine in his $18,000 suite.
PASTURE ON THE SEA
Weatherly was not the best 12-meter boat ever built. She was sturdy rather than sleek, she was top-heavy and tender. After an unimpressive start in the 1958 America's Cup trials she was slimmed down, and by 1962 could stand up to a breeze without wheezing. She was selected to defend that year because she was reliable, could keep going in any weather—and had the best crew. After winning the cup she was mothballed for three years, another obsolete million-dollar hulk. A used 12-meter quickly degenerates. If not laid up, she is likely to be raced recklessly by local hot rodders or else sailed sedately by portly vice-commodores who want to say they skippered the boat that won the cup. But Weatherly, one of the least glamorous of defenders, has the brightest future since America was running the blockades in the Civil War. Owner Henry Mercer, head of States Marine Lines, has given her to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. as a cadet-training ship. In this age of science and nuclear vessels a sailor can roam the seven seas without getting wet. Weatherly is intended to give the cadets a taste of the rail-down beat to windward now generally reserved for memories and millionaires.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Now that the Ruppert Knickerbocker brewers of New York have bought the Boston Celtics for $3 million, they might like to know something about the Celtic star who made that $3 million expenditure worth while. En route to brief supervision of his Liberian rubber plantation, Bill Russell confided that he will be doing public relations work at the World's Fair this summer for New York's Schaefer Brewing Company.
WHERE THE GIRLS ARE
Curtains of gay chintz decorate the windows. The front door is backed by wrought-iron scrollwork. At first glance inside you might think it was a hairdressing salon. It is, rather, Britain's only betting shop exclusively for women. The man behind the novel idea is Albert Whittaker, Birmingham bookmaker.
"I had thought for a long time," he says, with some pride, "that women punters needed more individual attention than men. Yet we could not always provide this in a mixed shop, especially when things became hectic just before the off. Sometimes it meant the women had to jostle with the men to place their bets. If they were uncertain about the intricacies of placing an 'accumulator' bet, they might hold up several men clients. So I decided to give them their own premises where they could bet in quieter, more leisurely circumstances and where members of my staff would have time to explain the various complexities of placing bets."
Business has boomed since the opening a year ago. The men's shops are happier, too.
While Negro athletes would appear to be in demand elsewhere in the Southwest Conference—both Texas Christian and Southern Methodist will have Negroes on athletic scholarships next year—Texas A&M policy remains quite firmly opposed to the integrated team.
"I've got nothing against the Negro athlete," explained Gene Stallings, new Aggie football coach, with the customary preface, "but I don't believe he fits into our plans right now.
"What we need is a team that will work and pull and fight together and really get a feeling of oneness. We need to be a complete unit. I don't believe we could accomplish this with a Negro on the squad."
One of the cardinal sins of football is to miss the point after touchdown. Stallings seems to be missing the point even before the season starts.
THE MORE IT CHANGES
For more than a year now the physicians of Las Cruces, N. Mex. have suffered calls to the hospital at awkward hours to set arms and legs broken in skateboard falls. Understandably, for the sake of the younger generation and a well-ordered life for doctors, they have been hoping that the kids would find a new fad.
And so they have. Since the end of the school term the youngsters have been sliding down the steep sides of the beautifully granulated gypsum dunes in the nearby White Sands National Monument and the desert beyond. Sand surfing, as it is called, is quite popular and has already resulted in its first broken leg.
CHANCE AT THE BIG TRY
In an average year, some 11,000 golfers shoot holes in one in the U.S. The record was set in 1961, with 12,888 aces.
It is a distinction, nonetheless, as any hole-in-oner will assure you. Or as the experience of the United Voluntary Services will testify. Last summer the UVS instituted its annual National Hole-in-One Contest, proceeds to go to UVS golf programs at veterans' hospitals and armed forces bases. The contest ran for a month, and the national winner was Captain M. R. Pruitt of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, who did not score a hole in one at all. His shot on the 170-yard 9th hole at the Tyndall AFB course came to rest six inches from the pin. That was the closest any contestant approached the ideal.
The contest is on again this year, during the month of July, and costs but a $1 contribution to UVS per try. Winners get trophies. Holes must be at least 110 yards long and supervised.
INVITATION TO THE FAIR
There is always something in the air in New York City: ticker tape and confetti, the music of Horowitz, sulphuric acid, carbon monoxide and carcinogenic benzopyrene. The Manhattan resident inhales daily the hydrocarbon equivalent of two packages of cigarettes. Because of these and other infestations of the city's burgoo-thick atmosphere, window washing and permanent waves cost the fastidious inhabitant an extra $800 annually, nylons run faster and even the statue of Sherman's horse in the park is dissolving. No one knows how much damage is being done to priceless paintings in the wonderful museums.
Nor is there any escape by submerging oneself at any of the city's beaches. A scuba diver, assuming he has filled his tank with proud Manhattan's air, has, at the recommended depth limit of 132 feet, enough pressure on his lungs to cause his tissues to absorb five times the amount of deadly carbon monoxide he would get at surface level. Using one of the 15,000 tanks that will be filled with Manhattan air this year, he could become poisoned with prolonged diving. The diver would be far better off sitting on the beach smoking a cigar.
THEY SAID IT
•Archie Williams, 400-meter champion in the 1936 Olympics, on the NCAAAAU feud: "I think track was better in the old days. When you wanted to compete, all you had to do was ask your mother."
•Craig Morton, California quarterback, on the first time he ran against Illinois last fall: "Linebacker Dick Butkus and Tackle Archie Sutton hit me at the same time. Each grabbed a leg and was pulling away when Butkus said, 'O.K., Archie, make a wish.' "