Friday, October 30

1969 U.S. Open Champion Orville Moody Wearing a Surgical Mask While Playing Golf


Masks are ever-present during this global pandemic. And so when I saw a face covering in a different era and context, it caught my attention. I noticed it on Tuesday night while watching highlights of the 1972 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (won by Jack Nicklaus).

There was Orville Moody, wearing a surgical mask like in the image at right.

It turns out Moody had chronic hay fever. "Ol Sarge" wore a mask on the golf course on several occasions, whether while practicing or playing in big tournaments.

Here's what Sports Illustrated writer Barry McDermott wrote about Moody in June 1979 in "The Putter God Forgot":

Actually, things do look better for Moody. His performance and check at Houston gave him a little cushion, and his hay fever is under control now thanks to a shot he receives twice a year. In the past, Moody sometimes had to play tournaments wearing a surgical mask because of his hay fever. Naturally the newspapers ran pictures of him, and they had a lot of fun with captions of the Who's the Masked Man kind.

Moody was a character, one of the many interesting characters I met on the golf legends trail while working on my two books.

Ol Sarge endured a lot. He was down, up, down, up, down -- in golf and life. He kept at it.

McDermott captured that theme in his opening:

In the last decade or so, Orville Moody's life has been a catalog of calamity and bizarre occurrence. Among other things he lost his life savings in a business venture, escaped from a burning house, employed a caddie who routinely waded through water hazards, and had one of his golfing pay checks snatched away by an insurance company. He endured two divorces, a burglary and chronic sniffles. He also won the U.S. Open, which might have been the worst misfortune of all.

Thanks to the now-outlawed broomstick, Moody, an awful putter, would rise again on the Senior Tour.


Joe Nathan said...

Sorry he had all those misfortunes. Why do you think his Open victory was a misfortune?

Neil Sagebiel said...

I believe there were unfulfilled expectations, among other things.