WALL OF FAME
Video artist Andy Clayman unveils the biggest show in golf
This is an article from the April 27, 1998 issue
Golf is young and old, vertical and horizontal, cruel and kind
and intensely spiritual." You can forgive Andy Clayman for
waxing poetic. He hasn't been sleeping much. Multimedia director
Clayman, 46, just put the final touches on a video wall he'll
unveil next month when the World Golf Hall of Fame opens in St.
Augustine, Fla. Titled The Passion to Play, it's a nine-minute
electronic mosaic, the first thing visitors will see when they
enter the Hall.
The wall--the Show, its creators call it--is a vast bank of
40-inch TV monitors: 240 square feet of screens containing 11.2
million pixels, each receiving a constant stream of marching
orders from Clayman and his colleagues at Mediaworks, a New York
City firm that has also designed displays for IBM and the
Whitney Museum. Using hundreds of photos and film clips plus
music and computer-driven effects, the Mediaworkers have built
what they call their best work. That's tall talk for a crew
whose exhibit at the Whitney caused traffic jams. They got their
Show on the road last year when Clayman, his partner Burt
Minkoff, editor Paul Allman and writer Nathaniel Kahn visited
the PGA Tour's TV and film archive, which holds film dating to
the early 1900s as well as footage of every tournament ever
televised. "You can ask for a shot of Tiger Woods hitting a
five-iron, and they say, 'What time of day?'" marvels Clayman.
One day the video team was shooting a certain pro (no names,
please) from a crane above a putting green. A simple aerial shot
of a 40-foot putt? Not when the pro kept missing while a Florida
thunderstorm rumbled in. The filmmakers finally got the shot
they needed, clambered to safety and watched lightning strike a
stand of nearby trees.
They survived to make a show that features princely Bobby Jones;
Ben Hogan's icy eyes; Sam Snead's rubbery perfection; the
unexpected beauty of water soaring from a dozen sprinklers; a
smile from Nancy Lopez; a wave goodbye from Arnie; a
split-screen look at Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus holing iron
shots side by side at the same cyber-instant. Yet there's
foolery, too, behind the music and grand moments. Remember that
40-foot putt? Never happened; it's a computer-altered four-footer.
"Hey, we were getting scared up there on our crane, and the guy
was never going to make that long putt," says Clayman.
"Augusta." The way Nick Price said the word, it could have been
a prayer or a curse. "Playing there is like walking hallowed
ground, but I don't like the way they trick it up." After
missing the cut at Augusta, where his best Masters finish was a
fifth in 1986, Price joined the exodus of Tour players jetting
to the MCI in Hilton Head Island, S.C., where he spent the week
"sitting here in quieter surroundings, licking my wounds." The
defending MCI champ, who spent all four days on the leader board
on his way to a sixth-place finish, was in a reflective mood. He
mused on the troubles of another wounded Nick, saying, "Faldo?
He's a strategist, but when you lose your putting touch,
strategy crumbles. You can't hit to the safe side of a green and
know you'll two-putt, can you? You can't afford to miss a green,
or to miss a fairway because that might make you miss the green.
That's how bad putting seeps all the way through your game."
Price, the 1993 and '94 player of the year, said he felt
squeezed between technology and trickery. "Championship golf is
traditionally built on good iron play," he said. "That's how I
fashioned my game. But now it's all driving and putting. Almost
any Tour player can freewheel the ball with these big-headed,
long-shafted clubs with no fear of where it might end up. Guys
who were mediocre ball-strikers are far more effective than they
were five years ago, while someone like me, who was once Number
8 on the Tour in driving, is lucky to be in the top 80."
Talk of luck reminded him of "Augusta, where they refuse to grow
rough, refuse to penalize players who don't hit the ball
straight, and instead make the greens so tricky you can make a
great iron shot and still come away with a double bogey. Which
means, of course, that you have to be a great, great putter to
win there. Which means I probably never will." He shook his
head, looking toward the horizon. "Frustrates the hell out of
me, that place."
THE SHAG BAG
Fuzzy-Wuzzy Again: At Augusta, where fans cheered Fuzzy Zoeller
and one speaker at a golf writers' dinner exhorted his
colleagues to "get off Fuzzy's butt," Zoeller and Tiger Woods
left the champions' dinner together. Then came a TV ad in which
Zoeller made a tongue-in-cheek confession to a priest. Last week
he signed as spokesman for Links Direct, a travel firm he says
shares his belief that "golf should be open to everyone." Thus
Zoeller completed the six-step program of image rehab: gaffe,
denial, loss of endorsements, apology, reacceptance,
Valediction: Gardner Dickinson, who outdueled Jack Nicklaus at
the 1971 Atlanta Classic to win the last of his seven Tour
titles, died on Sunday at age 70. A swing guru for pros such as
Miller Barber and JoAnne Carner as well as for his wife, Judy,
Dickinson "was a fierce, hardworking competitor," says Nicklaus.
Straight Shooter: In an age of fatuous jocktalk, Fred Couples's
post-Masters candor was refreshing. "I may have panicked a
little," he said. "I hit a couple of bad shots. I do that almost
every round. I feel like I'm a good player, not a great player."
Junior Partner: After Ken Griffey Jr. called the Masters
correctly, betting Seattle Mariners teammates that his Isleworth
neighbor Mark O'Meara, not Couples, would win, Griffey walked
the aisle of the team plane, collecting from row after row.
Shell Game: On Sunday at the PGA Seniors' Championship, a turtle
(left) cuddled up with Larry Nelson's bunkered ball. "I was just
hoping that thing wouldn't turn on me," said Nelson, who was
allowed to replace the ball and finished second to Hale Irwin.
"It had the biggest head I've ever seen on a turtle."
I Love Loosey: "The way we Swedes are going, you Americans had
better step it up!" jokes Helen Alfredsson. A detached hamstring
nearly cut her career short and put her "in limbo. I couldn't
exercise and I felt myself going insane." But after surgery in
1996, she's having fun again. "People say I'm totally intense,"
says Alfredsson, who finished 12th at the City of Hope behind
winner Karrie Webb. "I say, Yes, I'm intense, but after the
round I'm loosey-goosey."
Jet Lager: International players often gripe about jet lag, but
Ernie Els seems immune. "It helps that I sleep well on
airplanes," Els says. Is Dramamine his secret? Melatonin? "No.
It's a couple of beers."
Winter Rules: Two dozen players, including Ryder Cupper
Ronan Rafferty, were to compete at last week's Ice Golf
Championship in Uummannaq, Greenland, playing on tundra and
icebergs that featured whites instead of greens. The event was
canceled when a warm spell melted much of the course.
HE'S A GOD
"This job could hurt my game if I let it," says Kevin Sorbo. "I
mean, how would you like it if every time you teed up a ball,
people said, 'C'mon, Hercules, let's see what you can do'? What
do I do? Take it back slow and try not to freak." Sorbo, 39, was
a golfer long before he became the star of TV's Hercules: The
Legendary Journeys. He learned the game at Lakeview Golf Course
in Mound, Minn., a muni that his schoolteacher father managed
during the summer. "Playing alone, barefoot and shirtless at
sunset--those were great days," he says. As a struggling actor
Sorbo met Tour pros Billy Andrade, Billy Ray Brown and Willie
Wood on a cruise ship. "They were on the cruise, and I was
making a commercial. We wound up hitting balls off the boat. The
bottom of the Caribbean is now littered with our golf balls." A
member of Titirangi Golf Club in New Zealand, where his show is
shot, Sorbo seldom plays the Alister Mackenzie layout there,
since filming calls for 12- to 16-hour workdays, and the
workouts he needs to remain "a hero to children, sex symbol to
women," as the show's publicity has it, take 90 minutes more.
"My handicap skyrocketed when I got this Herc gig; I'm a bogey
golfer now," says Sorbo, who expects a Herc perk to come his way
soon. "A Callaway ad, of course. It's a no-brainer, isn't it?
They can say, 'Even Hercules got better with a Big Bertha.'"
CRACKING THE CODE
Ever wonder what the guys on the Tour really mean by those
familiar phrases they keep spouting? Here's a guide.
Tour talk: "He's a great ball striker."
Translation: He can't putt.
Tour talk: "He's a grinder."
Translation: I've got headcovers with more talent.
Tour talk: "The course might be a bit severe."
Translation: I shot 80 on this %$#!*&%! goat track.
Tour talk: "With the putter, he's one of the greats."
Translation: With the driver, he hits it like Mahatma Gandhi.
Tour talk: "Great swing--it's amazing he hasn't done better out
Translation: Thank goodness I'm not Tom Purtzer.
Tour talk: "He's a gutty, crafty little guy, and I admire him."
Translation: I've got shoes bigger than he is. How'd he ever
win the '95 Open?
Where a 300-Yard Drive Might Get You 3,000th Place
At the North American Long Drive Championship, Jason Zuback once
hit a 410-yard poke with enough force to snap off his clubhead.
On April 25 an estimated 8,000 bashers at more than 300 sites
will enter qualifiers for this year's Oct. 21-24 finals, the
golfing equivalent of a monster-truck rally. As if the thrill of
the killed pill weren't enough, there's a pot of gold at the end
of the range: $250,000 in prize money, including $75,000 for
first place. ("When I won it, the whole purse was $50,000," says
former champ Art Sellinger, now a tournament official.) To claim
the gold, however, you'll have to beat Zuback, 28, the two-time
defending champ whose 133-mph swing tops the PGA Tour average by
23 mph. Asked about the 412-yarder he unleashed to win last
year's finals, the pharmacist from Alberta called it "a
beautiful sensation of pure velocity."
Twenty years ago at the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic, a
dashing 20-year-old fresh off a stint with the Spanish air force
zoomed to his first PGA Tour victory. Severiano Ballesteros shot
66 on Sunday, April 2, to beat Jack Renner and Fuzzy Zoeller by
a stroke. The U.S. press, smitten, breathlessly reported that he
had no steady girlfriend. "That would be like playing the same
golf course all the time," he said. This week the 41-year-old
husband of Carmen Ballesteros, father of three and winner of 72
titles worldwide, including five majors, will skip Greensboro to
play the Spanish Open. Spain's erstwhile numero uno has long
since fallen to dos, behind his protege, Jose Maria Olazabal.
Ballesteros has missed the cut in both of his U.S. starts this
year, and now advises junior star Sergio Garcia, whom he calls
Spanish golf's best hope for the next 20 years.
What do these players have in common?
They made the most consecutive cuts at Tour events. Nelson made
113 in a row, Nicklaus 105 and Irwin 86.