TERRIBLE TWENTY KEEPS KICKING
This is an article from the March 24, 1997 issue
They have played through wind, rain, sleet and snow, during
depressions, earthquakes and wars. For 71 years, with nary a
miss, the members of the Terrible Twenty Tournaments have
competed once a month on courses in Southern California. Last
Friday at the Annandale Country Club in Pasadena the group held
its 850th consecutive tournament, then retired to the clubhouse
to toast one of golf's longest-running traditions.
The streak dates back to June 15, 1926, when Eric Lange, a
retired construction executive, invited 19 friends to the old
Flintridge Country Club outside Pasadena for an 18-hole match.
At lunch afterward, the group adopted the name Terrible Twenty
and agreed to play monthly tournaments, rotating them among 12
area clubs, which today include Wilshire, San Gabriel and
The original members have all died, and the current group is
Terrible and Twenty in name only. Some have handicaps as low as
seven, and the active membership is 36--three representatives
from each of the 12 clubs. When a member dies, any of the
remaining 35 can nominate a replacement. There is no age
requirement, but members pay about $100 per month to cover costs.
The group warms up before each tournament with a sumptuous
brunch and a Bloody Mary, or two. "This is not a boozers' group,
but neither would I classify us as a temperance union," says
76-year-old Bob Wolcott, a member since 1983. After the round
come cards and dinner, followed by awards.
Through the years the streak has survived many crises. To
sustain the club during the Depression, one wealthy member
contributed significantly to dues and prizes. During World War
II the members' advanced age allowed them to stay off the
battlefield and on the green, but the group had to scramble for
Weather has been the greatest threat to the streak. Club
secretary and oldest member Bill Gee, 86, recalls one tournament
in Palm Springs that was almost canceled by a snowstorm. "We
passed the morning playing cards," he says. "At 11 a.m. it was
still snowing, so a few members grabbed some blankets and off
they went to play. They managed to finish, so we were able to
call it a tournament."
Why the effort? Tom Mitchell, 77, sums it up nicely: "As long as
we're on this side of the earth and not the other, we should
enjoy playing golf."
SCOTT STILL STRUGGLING TO FIND WINNING FORM
For somebody who hasn't won a tournament in nearly two years,
Steve Scott is remarkably upbeat. Scott, you may recall, was 5
up on Tiger Woods at one point in the final of the U.S. Amateur
last August before losing on the second hole of sudden death. "I
played well against Tiger, and now he's beating the pros," says
Scott. "It makes me feel that I can do well too; maybe not do
what he's doing, but good enough to be a successful pro."
Scott is the nation's top-ranked amateur and might qualify for
the Tour someday, but right now his game is suspect. A sophomore
at Florida, he has yet to win a college tournament, and critics
have noted his inability to hit left-to-right shots. Three weeks
ago he was runner-up at the Puerto Rico Classic, his best finish
as a Gator.
For now Scott is taking advantage of opportunities that have
come as a result of his match with Woods. Last week the Honda
Classic gave him a sponsor's invitation. "The Amateur gave me
recognition," says Scott, who shot 76-74 at the Honda and missed
the cut. "I know I wouldn't have been invited to play if not for
Because he reached the Amateur final, Scott also received an
invitation to play in the Masters. After that event he'll return
to Florida and keep trying for his first college victory. "I
can't dwell on what I did last summer," Scott says. "I have to
keep working to get better. I've come close, but now I need to
THE GOLDEN BEAR GOES INFOMERCIAL
When Jack Nicklaus went on TV recently to hawk his Golden Bear
putter, he joined the ranks of, among others, Larry Laoretti,
Greg Norman and Rocky Thompson as golfers who have appeared in
infomercials. SI senior writer Austin Murphy reviews Nicklaus's
first foray into this type of advertising.
It's a credit to his gifts as a salesman and a thespian that
throughout the entire 28-plus-minute infomercial for his Golden
Bear GB-86 putter, there is but a single occasion when Jack
Nicklaus appears to be acutely embarrassed. Nicklaus's
discomfiture comes not while he discusses the new club's
"isokinetic insert" or its "compressed air feel pocket." The
moment comes during the so-called "10-putt challenge," when
randomly selected amateurs test their putters against the Golden
Bear putters "in head-to-head competition."
No need to look sheepish, Jack. Such competitions tap into some
of our greatest advertising traditions. Think of Pepsi's blind
taste test; think of Bounty, the quicker picker-upper, kicking
the tush of that other leading brand.
In the continuum of long-running commercials, Nicklaus comes off
as more dignified than Sally (Feed the Children) Strothers but
less dignified than Tony Randall in Randall's classic pitch for
"these beautiful recipe cards." At no time does Nicklaus mingle
with the amateur rabble, and at no time does he actually ask for
your money. The unseemly soliciting--the putter costs $89.95,
plus shipping and handling--is left to the now compromised ESPN
analyst Jim Kelly.
After touting the product's money-back guarantee, Kelly gushes,
"You've got nothing to lose--except maybe strokes off your
game." Or in Nicklaus's case, some luster off your legend.
ALFREDSSON HOPES TO BE THE LPGA'S COMEBACK KID
When Helen Alfredsson burst onto the LPGA scene in 1992, she was
the runaway choice as Rookie of the Year. The following season
she won the Nabisco Dinah Shore and seemed destined to become
the next great player on the tour.
That didn't happen. In the '94 U.S. Women's Open at Indianwood
Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich., Alfredsson opened with a 63
and led by four strokes after 36 holes but shot rounds of 76 and
77 on the weekend and tied for ninth. The collapse sent
Alfredsson into a free fall. Although she won the Ping Welch's
in Boston the next week, she has been winless in 49 events
since, and last year she was a career-worst 42nd in earnings.
"Golf was like looking through a foggy window the last few
years," she says. "There was never a solid moment."
Part of the problem might have been an injury Alfredsson
sustained in a bicycle accident 10 years ago. She flipped over
the handlebars, landed on her buttocks and was knocked
unconscious. She never had an X-ray and thus didn't know she had
broken a bone in the lower pelvis.
Last May, after her right leg became numb while playing golf,
Alfredsson went to a doctor. In November she had surgery to
remove the piece of bone that had broken off and to reattach the
muscles in her right leg to her hip. Alfredsson spent six weeks
in bed lying on her stomach, was on crutches for two weeks and
didn't start hitting golf balls again until mid-January.
Although she has missed the cut in her two starts in '97--the
Los Angeles Women's Championship, in February, and last week's
Welch's/Circle K Championship--Alfredsson felt well enough to go
drag racing at Pomona Speedway the week of the event in L.A.,
and two weeks ago she nearly broke the sound barrier while
flying in an F/A-18 Hornet fighter attack plane with the U.S.
Navy's Blue Angels. "Finally, I feel really good," says
Alfredsson. "I want to challenge again."
THE SHAG BAG
Jose Maria Olazabal continued his remarkable return with a tie
for fourth on Sunday at the Portuguese Open in Lisbon. In
preparation for the Masters, he will play in Europe this week
and next and plans to enter the Freeport-McDermott Classic in
New Orleans the week before Augusta....Bob Murphy won the
longest sudden-death playoff in Senior tour history, against Jay
Sigel, by holing a 65-foot birdie putt on the ninth extra hole
at the Toshiba Senior Classic in Newport Beach, Calif.... At the
Honda, Mike Donald was fined $1,000 for taking 51 seconds to
play a shot while he was being timed.... David Kirkland, a three
handicap from Palm Beach, was a last-minute substitute for
President Clinton as Greg Norman's partner in the member-guest
at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla. They shot 66 and
finished second.... With Stuart Appleby's victory in the Honda,
Americans are 0 for March on the Tour. (England's Nick Faldo won
the Nissan, and Steve Elkington, like Appleby an Australian, won
at Doral.) The last time foreigners won three Tour events in a
month was June 1994, when Grant Waite (New Zealand) won the
Kemper Open, Vijay Singh (Fiji) the Buick Classic and Nick Price
(Zimbabwe) the Hartford Open. The last time foreigners swept
every event in a month? Never.
Scrambling, one of the Tour's six new statistical categories,
measures the ability of a player to make par or better after
failing to hit the green in regulation. To come up with the
stat, which is a percentage, the Tour divides the number of
greens a player misses in regulation into the number of times he
either saves par or holes the subsequent shot from off the green
for birdie. Good putters such as Steve Jones (fourth in that
category), Jim Furyk (10th) and Jesper Parnevik (30th) are tops
in scrambling too. But the stat also identifies players who have
a deft touch from just off the green. Here are the top
scramblers through the Honda Classic.
Steve Jones 75.6 90/119
Jim Furyk 72.9 105/144
Donnie Hammond 71.7 81/113
Craig Stadler 71.1 81/114
Jesper Parnevik 70.7 70/99
The time it took Alice Miller, playing alone, to shoot 71 on
Sunday in the Welch's/Circle K Championship, which broke the
LPGA record for the fastest round by eight minutes, 49 seconds.