Back in 1957, long before he joined the professional golf tour, Frank Beard was studying journalism at the University of Florida. "Nobody," he says today, "ever lived who didn't at one time or another want to write."
After six months Beard forsook journalism in favor of a course in accounting, which turned out to be a lot more useful to a young golfer with a nice putting touch, but when Dick Schaap approached him with the proposition of becoming the author of one of Schaap's "talking books," all the old urges began to stir again in Beard's bosom. "I guess I was like the enterprising young journalism major who goes to the city editor and says, 'Look, I got an A in English and I'm ready to go to work,' " he confesses.
Go to work he did, talking endlessly—or so it seemed—into tape recorders until he had amassed three-quarters of a million words, or more than enough to make the book Pro: Frank Beard on the Golf Tour, a three-part excerpt of which begins on page 64 of this issue.
Schaap knew nothing of Beard's past aspirations when he approached him, and—despite his journalistic ambitions—Frank doesn't pretend that he actually wrote the book in which he recounts so revealingly the day-to-day triumphs and tragedies of a budding pro star on the tour. Schaap, he insists, did the writing. Still, Frank admits, he did get better at the talking part. In a way, he says, dictating the day-by-day account of his progress helped him to know himself better than ever before.
May 17, 1970
"I've always been rather introspective," says Beard. "I like to think about what makes people tick, and talking about the tour and its personalities increased my understanding." His editor, he adds, "had no problem getting enough material out of me; his problem was figuring out what to do with it all."
Beard's own problem was one of concentration. His wife Pat and their three young children traveled with him, and the only way he could get his daily stint accomplished was by escape. "I think Frank spent half the year in motel bathrooms," says Pat Beard.
Whatever the hardships, they all proved worth it. Beard was first selected because he was something of an also-ran, albeit a prospering one. As Beard himself put it: "If Arnie wins a tournament, the headline says: PALMER WINS, and if I win a tournament, the headline says: PALMER LOSES." Beard's book might have changed all that, in any case, but Frank's own success anticipated that of the book. Whether in spite of or because of his enforced concentration, Beard's year of authorship coincided with his most successful year on the course—his $175,223.93 made him the leading money-winner of 1969. And this season looks pretty good, too, so far. Three weeks ago he won the Tournament of Champions to add another $30,000 to the $23,876 he had already racked up in 1970, and at the moment, Frank Beard, the onetime also-ran, is ranking high on the list of money-winners once again.