Monday, June 29

The Tour Era of Bright Blue Bunkers

(Courtesy of SI Vault)

THE YEAR WAS 1969. It was the era of the space program and first moon walk, The Jackson Five with 10-year-old Michael Jackson as front man-child, Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War, and powdery blue bunkers on the PGA Tour. No, really. Just take a look at the cover of the February 17, 1969, issue of Sports Illustrated.

That’s Bob Lunn demonstrating “Golf’s Brash New Look,” following through on an explosion shot from bright blue sand in that year-round golf oasis, Palm Springs.

They played out of blue bunkers at the Bob Hope Desert Classic in the late Sixties. It was a novelty in an age when novelties were normal. Blue bunkers were actually kind of tame in those psychedelic times.

Not buying it? OK, I made up the part about the Hope.

(But I’m still trying to figure out the photo. There was no Photoshop 40 years ago.)

Vince Spence recently posted the above SI cover and mentioned Bob Lunn at his entertaining blog, One-Eyed Golfer. Bob Lunn. Now there’s a name I hadn’t heard in a while.

Never heard of Lunn? He was a big guy, 6’2”, 190 lbs., who won six times on the PGA Tour, sort of a 1960s version of Chad Campbell in terms of wins and talent. Lunn once won back-to-back events and finished third in the 1970 U.S. Open. In 1968, he won more than $100,000 on the PGA Tour. That was big, brash money in those days.

And, as shown, Lunn made the cover of Sports Illustrated, so he was definitely a player.

−The Armchair Golfer


Charles Boyer said...

It's easy to overlook golfers of old and focus only on the legendary champions, but that would be a mistake. For one thing, fields were quite deep back in the 40's, 50's and beyond and for another, it almost denigrates the accomplishments of the legends.

We hardly remember Billy Casper in our modern time -- and he won multiple majors and 68 tournaments. Guys like Bob Lunn don't stand a chance in the hype-stream. So thanks for reminding us of him.

Ours is a time of hypebolic self-adulation like no other -- for example, we are quick to proclaim that the 2008 US Open was the best ever. Maybe, but my money would go on the 1960, 1950 or 1913 tournaments. They just didn't have television. We do the same with Woods, Mickelson, etc. Yes, Tiger may be the best ever, but I firmly believe that many a player of old would have given him one heckuva match, were it possible to play.

The Armchair Golfer said...

Charles: I agree with all your points. A comment on just one of them: Billy Casper is the most underrated player in history.