Francis Ouimet's Old House
This is an article from the Oct. 4, 1999 issue
The 17th green is still only a lob wedge from the front porch,
but 246 Clyde Street doesn't seem as close to the Country Club
as it once did. Last week a cluster of corporate tents, traffic
cops and barbed wire separated the childhood home of the club's
most fabled member from the site of the Ryder Cup.
As a kid Francis Ouimet would cross Clyde and cut through the
pine trees to get to the course. He was a caddie there and a
part-time sporting goods salesman until September 1913, when he
was promoted to folk hero. At age 20, as an amateur, Ouimet won
the U.S. Open at the Country Club in a playoff against England's
Ted Ray and Harry Vardon, igniting a golf boom in the U.S. A
bronze statue near the 1st tee commemorates Ouimet's feat, and
last week the row of tents covering his old shortcut was dubbed
Francis Ouimet Village. A sculptor sold 23-inch bronze
likenesses of Ouimet and his 10-year-old caddie, Eddie Lowery,
for $6,500. Twenty-two years after his death, Ouimet is
everywhere, still to the Country Club what Heff is to the
At 246 Clyde, though, the tribute is more subtle. A framed
25-cent postage stamp honoring Ouimet hangs in the front foyer
of the two-story, three-bedroom house. Around the corner a wall
is adorned with a photo of a bearded man sitting on a motorcycle
outside Sloppy Joe's in Key West, Fla. His name is Jerome
Wieler, a self-described "financial analyst and philosopher." He
and his wife, Dedie, live here now, the real residents of Ouimet
"We're not golfers. We're bikers," says Dedie, a hospital
administrator and an officer in the Boston chapter of the Harley
Owner's Group (HOG). "But we appreciate what [Ouimet] did. As
champions of the working class, we love the fact that a caddie
walked across the street and won the U.S. Open."
Dedie says they had no idea who Ouimet was when they bought the
house 10 years ago but were told of his legend shortly
thereafter. Five years ago a coworker sent the Wielers the
postage stamp and a mug with Ouimet's likeness on it.
"To this day golf makes no sense to me," says Jerome. "I have
more appreciation for people who shoot pool than for those who
play golf, but I've got to admit, the story of this guy
fascinated me. From what I understand, he was not that welcome as
a golfer over there. I mean, a caddie who wins the biggest
tournament of the year? That's my kind of guy."
The Wielers say no one offered to rent their home for Cup week.
Occasionally golf fans will stop to look at the house, though
Jimmie and Harriet, the Wielers' black Lab and Scottish terrier,
keep the curious at bay. In their decade on the outskirts of the
Country Club, neither Wieler has been on the course or in the
clubhouse. They say they never thought to open a lemonade stand
or sell quickie tours of Ouimet's bedroom. Dedie spent last
weekend catching up on her work and reading while Michael
Jordan, Prince Andrew, George Bush and the rest of the
golf-obsessed elite roamed her block. Jerome rode his Harley to
the Berkshires to take in the foliage.
In their own way the Wielers have upheld the tradition of
Ouimet, the pariah, the party-crasher, the working-class hero.
The corporate tents and the $6,500 statues are across the
street, on the other side of the barbed wire. The legend lives
here still, at 246 Clyde Street. --Gerry Callahan
Yankee Caddies, Euro Bosses
TORN IN THE USA
The living room of Jerry Higginbotham's Los Gatos, Calif.,
apartment is laden with curios from the '97 Ryder Cup. There's
Higginbotham's bib, which he wore while caddying for Mark
O'Meara; a picture of Higgi, O'Meara and Tiger Woods going nuts
after Woods chipped one in; a poster of the U.S. players, with
their signatures; and even a yardage book from Valderrama.
The American flag is ubiquitous at Jerry's joint--on his bib, on
his poster--but last week you would have thought he'd renounced
his U.S. citizenship. There was Higginbotham caddying for
Europe's Sergio Garcia at the 33rd Ryder Cup matches at
Brookline, Mass., and he wasn't the only turncoat toter. Lance
Ten Broeck of Palm Beach, Fla., was in the same group, working
for Garcia's partner, Jesper Parnevik. "It's a sporting event,
bud," Higginbotham said before the match. "I'm just a caddie,
just following my man around on the fairways, no big deal."
Don't be so sure, bud. In the Cup, questions arise when a
caddie's heart is at odds with his flag-festooned hat.
Higginbotham and Ten Broeck rekindled a debate that reached a
fever pitch in 1995, when "Dirty" Dan Stojak, caddying for Team
USA's Loren Roberts, boasted that he had wagered $1,000 at
4-to-1 odds on the Europeans to win. (Stojak was fired but later
insisted he had never placed the bet, and was rehired.) "I would
have trouble doing something like that," Jim Furyk said of
hiring a member of the opposition party. "[Higginbotham] is
going to try his best for Sergio to play well. It doesn't make
him unpatriotic. It's an awkward situation at best."
Ten Broeck began feeling conflicted back in July, at the British
Open, but was told by U.S. player Hal Sutton not to worry about
doing his job. As it turned out, the U.S. should have been more
concerned, as Parnevik and Garcia, with Ten Broeck and
Higginbotham, proved unbeatable.
"I've had a few people jokingly call me a traitor," said Ten
Broeck. "Actually," he said, thinking again, "I don't know how
jokingly it was."
U.S. Ryder Cup Team Shirts
CAPTAIN BEN'S HISTORY LESSON
Take a burgundy suitcase and get it stickered by customs in 30
countries and you have the look of what the American team wore
on Sunday. Dreamed up by U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw and designed
by Jeff Rose & Co., the short-sleeve top featured
black-and-white photos of six victorious U.S. squads. A BBC wag
dubbed it the Pizza Shirt.
"We got responses from people who thought it was the ugliest
thing they'd ever seen, and from people who thought it was the
most unique thing they'd ever seen," said Preston Piermattei,
partner and executive vice president of sales and marketing for
Jeff Rose. "Actually, it's a piece of art more than a golf shirt."
Indeed it was a piece of something. Under PGA rules, Jeff Rose
was not allowed to sell apparel it designed for the team before
the match ended. But because the shirt received so much airtime
in the U.S.'s victory, the company might put it on the shelves
now. The price Jeff Rose is considering: $160. --Gene Menez
Juli Inkster Enters the Hall
DOUBLE-TIMING INTO HISTORY
On Jan. 11, when the LPGA announced in a players meeting in
Orlando that it would ease the requirements to qualify for the
Hall of Fame, Juli Inkster feverishly scrawled figures on a slip
of paper. "Ooh, I only need six points," she said. In fact,
Inkster later realized, she needed seven, which she figured
would take a few good years to earn. Wrong again. When Inkster
won by six strokes over Tina Barrett and Grace Park at the
Safeway LPGA Golf Championship at Columbia Edgewater Country
Club in Portland last week, earning her fifth title--including
two majors--in '99, she qualified for the Hall, a plateau that
had seemed too lofty.
Before this season, Inkster's 17 victories, including three
majors, left her 13 wins short of admission. "I knew I wasn't
going to play long enough to get that many," says the
39-year-old mother of two. But the new rules, which among other
changes doubled the value of a major, gave her hope, and Inkster
responded with a huge '99, leading to a wild celebration in
Led by Nancy Lopez, three dozen of Inkster's peers, armed with
eight bottles of champagne, greeted the 17th Hall member as she
came off the final green. "It was nice not to have it drag on
and to win right away," said the bubbly-soaked Inkster after
several wet hugs. "I never dreamed I could get seven points in
such a short time." --Tom Hanson
What do these players have in common?
They are the only three players in last week's Ryder Cup who
remain unbeaten in singles in at least three appearances. Lehman
and Mickelson each improved to 3-0, while Montgomerie is now
3-0-2 after edging Payne Stewart.
Should the Presidents Cup, as Jack Nicklaus suggests, be a
qualifier for the Ryder Cup?
--Based on 517 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Should Mark James have played Andrew Coltart,
Jarmo Sandelin and Jean Van de Velde before the Sunday singles
matches? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
The duo of Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik went 3-0-1 in
Europe's loss, becoming one of the top tandems in Ryder Cup
history. Here are the top 10 one-week pairs teams going into
'79 U.S. Wadkins/Nelson 4-0
'67 U.S. Nichols/Pott 3-0
'71 U.S. Palmer/Dickinson 3-0
'81 U.S. Nicklaus/Watson 3-0
'87 Eur Faldo/Woosnam 3-0-1
'89 Eur Ballesteros/Olazabal 3-0-1
'91 Eur Ballesteros/Olazabal 3-0-1
'65 Eur Alliss/O'Connor Sr. 3-1
'83 Eur Faldo/Langer 3-1
'85 Eur Ballesteros/Pinero 3-1
Joe Moberg, Gladstone, Mich.
Moberg, 45, a pipe fitter, beat 4,882 other contestants in 51
flights at the World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle
Beach, S.C. A 14 handicapper, Moberg won the 15th flight with a
net score of 199 (69-66-64), then beat the winners of the other
50 flights with a net 66 in the 18-hole final.
Kristen Shew, Hockessin, Del.
Kristen, 16, won the Delaware Junior Girls at Whitford Country
Club in Exton, Pa. A stroke behind Marilyn Seide after seven
holes of the second and final round, Kristen holed a 140-yard
nine-iron for double eagle at the 380-yard 8th hole and went on
to beat Seide by seven with an 11-over 157 (81-76).
Nicolas Colsaerts, Brussels, Belgium
Nicolas, 16, went 2-0 to lead Europe to a 10 1/2-1 1/2 victory
at the Junior Match, a two-day Ryder Cup-style event with coed
teams from the U.S. and Europe that was held at New Seabury
(Mass.) Country Club. Earlier this summer Nicolas won the
Belgian under-18 championship and the Dutch junior.
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.
At last week's Westin Texas Open at LaCantera Golf Club in San
Antonio, Nick Faldo vowed to keep his mind on the tournament he
was in, not the one he wasn't. He failed. Having shot himself
out of the Open with a first-round 76, Faldo repaired to his
hotel room before his 1 p.m. tee time last Friday, forsaking his
usual range routine to monitor the Ryder Cup. He was delighted
with what he saw. "I told you, we've got big hearts," Faldo said
of Europe's stunning 6-2 first-day lead.
Faldo, the alltime leader in Ryder Cup wins (23) and points (25),
who had played in every biennial match since 1977, sensed an
impending victory for Europe, and despite being in San Antonio, a
long way from the limelight, he was in a chipper mood all week.
When asked if he thought the Euros would miss him, he said with a
wry smile, "They'll miss my wit and charm in the team room."
As has been the case lately, Faldo was missing his game,
shooting a 74 on Friday to come up eight strokes short of the
cut. He was in a hurry after his round, addressing the question
of whether he had wished his old mates luck with a simple, "I've
done that," before zooming off to catch a plane. Would he watch
the Cup over the weekend? "Yeah," said Faldo, 42. "I've got
plenty of time to watch it now."