|L to R: Johnny Farrell, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen.|
Jack said he’s thinking in non-traditional ways about an ancient game that’s losing players in droves. Naturally, like a lot of people, Nicklaus is concerned and looking for new answers.
But, as I discovered yesterday by accident, the Golden Bear isn’t the first Hall of Famer to look at that elusive golf hole and decide that maybe it needs to be larger. Seven-time major winner Gene Sarazen apparently promoted the idea in the first half of the 20th century, according to legendary golf scribe Hebert Warren Wind.
In The Story of American Golf, Wind wrote:
He [Sarazen] made winning golf do for him what a smash hit does for an actor or a specialized process does for a shoe manufacturer. He cashed in when his irons were hot, and adroitly kept himself a leader in the eyes of the public even in the periods when he was not winning. Gene had an understanding of publicity superior to that of any of his colleagues. There was always some innovation in the Sarazen-model clubs—the reminder-grip, the sand-iron, the 4-wood that he popularized with his double-eagle [at the 1935 Masters]. He knew the value of dissenting. He once plumped for an 8-inch cup; he criticized the selection of the Ridgewood course for the 1935 Ryder Cup; he had qualifying clauses whenever he discussed the heroes of the day.Indeed, Sarazen was an innovator and promoter. He could also play. Nicknamed “The Squire,” Sarazen is one of only five men to win all four major championships (The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship). The other four are Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Tiger Woods.
As Wind also wrote, after Sarazen won his first U.S. Open at Skokie Country Club in suburban Chicago, he summed up his golf ability this way: “All men are created free and equal, and I am one shot better than the rest.”
−The Armchair Golfer