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My Shot The Publinks was a labor of love for real laborers back when I won it 51 years ago

July 24, 2000
July 24, 2000

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July 24, 2000

My Shot The Publinks was a labor of love for real laborers back when I won it 51 years ago

When I attended the U.S. Amateur Public Links last week at Heron
Lakes Golf Club in Portland, the tournament looked very little
like the event I won in 1949. I saw only two players over 40,
and most of the contestants looked as if they were about 14.
When I won at Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles, the
majority of the competitors were between 30 and 45.

This is an article from the July 24, 2000 issue Original Layout

The tournament was more of a blue-collar event back then, and I
miss that. There were more truck drivers, warehousemen, police
officers and firemen--laborers who also worked hard on their
golf games. If most of today's Publinks competitors were to list
a profession, it would be college student.

Not that there's anything wrong with the Publinks featuring
college golfers. It doesn't matter if you're 14 or 64. I was one
of the young ones myself, only 21, when I won. I was working at
Crystal Springs Golf Course in Burlingame, Calif., as a
jack-of-all-trades (and master of none). There were 210 players
in the field--61 more than this year--and the format was all
match play, meaning you had to win at least seven matches to be
champ.

My toughest match came in the 36-hole semifinal against Phil
Kunkle. I was one up going into the final hole. We both had
birdie putts, but he was inside of me so I stymied him. I putted
my ball onto his line, making it impossible for him to drain his
eight-footer unless he played some sort of billiards shot. He
didn't, and I beat him. I went on to defeat Bill Betger 5 and 4
in the final.

Defending the title was much more difficult. The tournament was
in Louisville, and I stayed at the Brown Hotel downtown. There
was one problem: The hotel didn't have air conditioning, and it
was so humid that week that by the fourth round of match play I
ran out of gas and could drive my ball only 150 yards. I dropped
the last four holes to lose one up. One thing about the Publinks
hasn't changed: You can't win if you play poorly.

Ken Towns, 72, played parts of five seasons on the PGA Tour.

COLOR PHOTO: ROCKY WIDNER