Showing posts with label Winged Foot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winged Foot. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 1

Bad Boy Bobby Locke, Part 4: The Ban and Return

I asked John Coyne why he called Bobby Locke a "bad boy." Coyne said, "Locke wasn't liked on the PGA Tour. They blackballed him. Also, he was fired from his first pro job in Johannesburg." In this series, read how the South African golf legend made enemies by beating America's best. Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Bobby Locke putting out at Midlothian Country Club.
IN 1949, A YEAR AFTER HE WON the Chicago Victory Open at Midlothian Country Club by 16 strokes, which remains a PGA record margin of victory, Bobby Locke was banned from playing golf on the American tour. The reason given by the PGA was because he had failed to show up at tournaments and exhibitions without giving any explanations. However, many people thought that he was banned because he was simply winning too many tournaments, making too much money.

Claude Harmon, winner of the Masters in '49, and longtime head pro at Winged Foot Country Club, allegedly commented as much, saying, "Locke was simply too good. They had to ban him."

The ban was lifted in '50 and the first U.S. tournament he played in was the '50 All American at Tam O'Shanter. Locke had already won at Tam, in 1947, and George S. May called Locke in London and offered him a guarantee to come back to Chicago for the All American and The World Championship.

In his book, On Golf, Locke writes in his wry, understated, way: "He made me an offer of a guarantee if I would appear in this event. Frankly he did not offer enough, but after some conversation he agreed to my terms and once more I set out for America."

What pleased Locke even more was winning the '50 All American tournament in a play-off against Lloyd Mangrum. Again, Locke added expressionlessly, "Lloyd Mangrum and I have little in common."

However, Lloyd Mangrum, like Bobby Locke, was another WWII veteran. Mangrum was a staff sergeant in the Army. He was wounded twice in the Battle of the Bulge and spent part of his convalescent period at St. Andrews, where he won a GI tournament in 1945. Mangrum was a good looking man, who with a thin mustache and black hair parted in the middle had the looks of a river-boat gambler. He put the rivalry with Bobby another way.

"That son-of-a-bitch Locke was able to hole a putt over 60 feet of peanut brittle."

Writing about Locke's triumphal return to the U.S. tour, Henry Longhurst quoted Locke's sly comment in a piece for Golf Mixture as "I just can't say how nice it is to be back in the States."

Indeed it would be hard to top his return, even if there were no welcome-home signs from the American touring professionals.


John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest golf novel is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Wednesday, May 7

Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 3

Shelley Mayfield told me, "I played a lot of golf with Ben Hogan ... maybe more than anyone else." In this series, I share Mayfield's memories of Hogan as a golfer and a person. Along the way, I'll tell you about Mayfield and his long and rewarding life in golf. Read INTRODUCTIONPart 1, and Part 2.

A Shelley Mayfield putter.
WITH BEN HOGAN IN FORT WORTH and Shelley Mayfield in Dallas, the game was on.

“I remember the first time I played with Hogan at Brook Hollow,” Mayfield said.

“The 3rd hole was a dogleg left, and it’s really a 3-wood and about a 6-iron or a 5-iron, it could be a 4-iron hole, and the green is sitting down well below you. Sometimes you can’t see the pin on the green.

“Hogan, when he started to hit his second shot, kept squatting and looking, squatting and looking. It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but he hit his shot, and I think he hit a 4-iron, but he should have hit a 5-iron, and he hit right at the back edge of the green, right by a marker pin, a pin that they placed off the back edge of the green to show you where the green was. He thought that was the pin, so that tells you what kind of judgment of distance he had.

“He was like a machine.”

That first Brook Hollow round sparked another memory of Hogan’s prowess.

“He—which I never had any ability to do at all myself—he would say 278 will win this tournament. And believe me, it wasn’t over one or two shots away. I don’t know how he could predict it like that, but he could.

“Today, as I think back, that may have cost him a few tournaments. He was always so positive about everything. When he said 278 will win this tournament, he put that in his mind and I’m going to shoot 278 or 277, and when he did that somebody might shoot 276 or 275.

“But who knows?"

* * *

Shelley Mayfield played the professional tour for a few years in the mid 1950s.

“When I went out in ‘53,” Mayfield said, “I won the St. Paul Open that same year, in July.

“I played a couple winter tours. I went out in ‘48 and I couldn’t even qualify for a tournament until I got to San Antonio. By then I knew you got to find a job and find out how to play the game. You’ve got to build two or three steps higher than where you were. I was a good player, but those guys out there could beat my brains out.

“So I was lucky enough to find a job at Winged Foot with Claude Harmon. I worked all summer there, with Claude.

“Claude said, ‘Shelley, you know you’re not ready yet to go back out on tour. Why don’t you come down to Seminole and be my assistant down there this winter?’

“So I said, ‘That’s good. I’d like to do that.’

“That was a great thing for me because we had to go to work at 8 o’clock in the morning and we got off at dark. But nobody showed up until about noon. I mean, one or two people. Nobody. So that left me from eight to 12 to practice.

“Claude said, “I don’t want any of my assistants hanging around the golf shop. I want them either on the practice tee, playing golf, or giving a lesson.’ “He said, ‘I want good players as assistants.’

“At that time, that was unique. So he had no problem at all with me practicing four hours every morning. That kind of set the stage.

“Then I got my own job the following year at a small club called Rockaway Hunting Club on Long Island. All it had was an 18-hole golf course.

“Of course, Winged Foot was a [Albert] Tillinghast course. Rockaway Hunting was a Tillinghast course. Meadowbrook was a Tillinghast course. Actually, it wasn’t when I was there because they had just run the freeway through the old Meadowbrook and moved it over. That’s how I got to know Dick Wilson, and built the new Meadowbrook golf course. And then Brook Hollow—the only clubs I ever associated with were Tillinghast courses.

“I went to work there at Rockaway Hunting and was there for three years, just a wonderful little club, wonderful members. They couldn’t have been nicer. I practiced late every evening. They all went to their parties and things fairly early. That left me two or three hours every evening to practice. I honed up my game. By the time I left to go on the tour, believe me, I was ready. I knew how to play golf.

“It took me about five months, but I won my first tournament. I should have won the week before. I guess it was just because of lack of experience.”

Next time: Shelley Mayfield on tour travel and more.

Other Installments:
Playing With Hogan (Introduction)
Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 1
Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 2

Wednesday, April 23

Playing With Hogan: Shelley Mayfield, Part 1

Shelley Mayfield told me, "I played a lot of golf with Ben Hogan ... maybe more than anyone else." In this new series, I share Mayfield's memories of Hogan as a golfer and a person. Along the way, I'll tell you about Mayfield and his long and rewarding life in golf. Read INTRODUCTION.

Shelley Mayfield had a short but
successful career on the PGA Tour.
I ASKED SHELLEY MAYFIELD WHAT I asked all the other old-time tour players. Tell me about Ben Hogan. Tell me what he was like as a person, and what you thought of him as a golfer.

"I'm apt to be more of a rater of how they strike the ball from tee to green than I am as how well they putt or chip the ball," Mayfield said. "And I have never seen anybody better than Ben Hogan, from tee to green.

"I've seen some people pretty close. As a matter of fact, Claude Harmon was one of them—very seldom ever missed a fairway, and very seldom ever missed a green. Both of them, if they were in a bunker, you better look out, they might hole it. And if on the edge of the green, look out, they might chip it in the hole. So they were just beautiful players.

"They had their putting streaks, but Hogan, by far—not really by far—but a good head in front of any player I ever played with. And I played with Palmer, Nicklaus on back. Nicklaus was about the youngest one of the very good players.

"I played a lot of golf with Ben Hogan. An awful lot of golf. Maybe more than anybody else, I don't know.

"For years we played every other week, on three different courses there when I was pro at Brook Hollow at Dallas. He was over there at Shady Oaks in Fort Worth. We played Brook Hollow, Shady Oaks and Preston Trails in Dallas, which is a very fine golf course. We just took turns and played every couple of weeks. This went on for years—I don't know how many—12, 14, 15 years until Hogan got a little too old."

* * *

The youngest of three children, Shelley Mayfield was born on June 19, 1924, in Liberty Hill, Texas. Young Shelley was a star athlete in several sports at Seguin High School. One of them was golf, which he took up at the age of 14. Shelley and his teammates won multiple state championships under golf coach W.A. "Lefty" Stackhouse. Mayfield went on to win the Laredo City Championship and advance to the semifinals of the Mexican Amateur.

Turn pro, Shelley, said friends and supporters. He did in 1948. After a brief stint on the winter tour, famed teacher and pro Claude Harmon hired Mayfield as an assistant club professional at Winged Foot Golf Club. Shelley began learning the trade from one of the best. He would also work for Harmon at Seminole Golf Club in Florida.

Mayfield joined the full PGA Tour in 1953, and not long after he won his first of three official tour titles, the 1953 St. Paul Open. (More to come on his career as a tour and club pro.)

* * *

Shelly Mayfield's regular game with Ben Hogan began in the early 1960s. It came about after Hogan called Mayfield about a job opening in Dallas.

Next time: How Mayfield got a plum club job and began playing with Hogan.

Other Installments:
Playing With Hogan (Introduction)

Tuesday, February 28

Top 10 Hardest Golf Courses in United States

Mower races at Oakmont. Not really. (Courtesy of John E Kaminski)

IF YOU LIKE YOUR GOLF EXTREMELY TOUGH and have special connections, then here is a list of brutally difficult tracks for you to play. Keep score if you dare, and let us know how you do. senior editor Joe Passov published his list of “Top 10 Toughest Courses in the U.S.” on Monday. Passov writes, “Jack Nicklaus was once asked to rate a handful of classic courses on a scale of difficulty from 1 to 10. He rated Augusta National, Oak Hill, St. Andrews and Seminole all 8s. Baltusrol and Pebble Beach merited a 10. How about Winged Foot? ‘11,’ responded Nicklaus. ‘Maybe 12.’”

Of the above courses mentioned by Nicklaus, only Winged Foot made the following list. (Not sure how Jack overlooked Oakmont.)

1. Whistling Straits
Haven, Wisconsin

2. Oakmont Country Club
Oakmont, Pennsylvania
(See my “Oakmont Is Cage Fighting in Fashionable Clothing”)

3. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, New Jersey

4. Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean)
Kiawah Island, South Carolina

5. TPC Sawgrass (PLAYERS Stadium)
Ponte Vedra, Florida

6. Bethpage State Park (Black Course)
Farmingdale, New York

7. PGA West (TPC Stadium)
La Quinta, California

8. Winged Foot Golf Club (West)
Mamaroneck, New York

9. Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Pebble Beach, California

10. Wolf Creek Golf Club
Mesquite, Nevada

Top 10 ‘Green’ Golf Courses in United States

Friday, May 14

Name the Player Based on the Shoes and Footwork

NOTE THE SHOES. NOTE the footwork. You can even note the snazzy britches, if you like. Who is the player?

I know this is not an easy assignment so I will give you a couple of hints that may or may not be helpful. The player is not an American. Nor is it Ian Poulter. (But the footwork tells you that, right?)

The photo was snapped on the practice range at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: rgusick/Flickr)