Wednesday, April 22

Golf Voices from the Past: Byron Nelson on Ralph Guldahl

HALL OF FAMER BYRON NELSON PENNED his autobiography, Byron Nelson: How I Played the Game, in the early 1990s. Nelson included a chapter titled "Golfers I've Known Over the Years," which covered a wide range of amateurs and professionals. One of them was Ralph Guldahl and this odd anecdote about the major champion.
Though Ralph [Guldahl] was one of the slowest players on the tour, from 1936 to 1938 he was also a great player, winning the Western Open three times and the U.S. Open twice .... I believe the most unusual thing I ever saw a player do was in the U.S. Open in '37 at Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Michigan. Ralph was on the eighteenth green in the final round. He had the tournament won, all he had to do was hit his putt. He was all lined up and ready when he stopped, backed away, and took a comb out to comb his hair. I think he suddenly realized that they'd be wanting to take pictures and he wanted to make sure he looked good, but it was a little strange for someone to do that during the most important tournament we have. He finished with his hair, two-putted, and that was that. I don't recall if the press said anything about how nice his hair looked.
Ralph Guldahl went on to win the 1938 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills by six shots, one of six players with consecutive victories in the national championship. (The others were Willie Anderson, John McDermott, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange.) In addition, Guldahl's three Western Open titles were in consecutive years. The Texan also won the 1939 Masters.

Then Guldahl lost his game, lost interest in the game (and life on tour), or probably both. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1981.

More Voices:
Frank Beard
Dave Hill

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