Friday, December 31

Old-Time Tour Pro Dragged Putter Behind Car

By John Derr

AT THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP in Louisville, won by Jim Turnesa, the morning of the first round, I arrived at Big Springs Country Club in the car with Sam Snead. He parked in the first open parking space. As he got out he noticed the car parked beside him was the courtesy car assigned to Tommy Bolt, who arrived in the club parking lot at about the same time.

Snead said he’d have to move our car to another place, several rows over, because if Bolt lost, he would gun his speeding car when leaving the lot. Chances are he would spray gravel and rocks from the unpaved lot, on any cars parked near him, according to Snead. And he did.

At the same PGA championship at Big Springs when another one of the top players (I hesitate to name him, for I am not sure and he may still be around), I was standing in the parking lot when the caddy dropped the pro’s bag of clubs in the car trunk. The player opened the trunk, took out his putter and what looked like the belt from his trousers. He secured the belt around the putter shaft, then tied the putter, head down, on the bumper of his car and zoomed onto the street.

Sparks from the errant putter, as it bounced along, looked like a Fourth of July celebration. He raced down the road, after saying to no one in particular, “I guess that’ll take care of the little bastard.”

Sam and I were the only people within earshot, so I guess he was talking primarily to his putter, a farewell of sorts.

I wish I could positively recall the pro, but I wouldn’t want to pin it on the wrong man, though others may have done the same.

John Derr is an award-winning golf journalist who covered 62 Masters and the author of My Place at the Table. He lives in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

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