News & ToursJune 16, 2011

Bittersweet memories of Congressional

BETHESDA, Md. -- Old Man History remembers Congressional for Ken Venturi and Ernie Els. I remember Deborah Couples. On June 5, 1983, she was Fred Couples's wife. I sat with her in the long grass below a greenside bunker at the 16th hole of the Kemper Open. She was a sassy, athletic, platinum blonde outfitted in a cowboy hat and an electric-blue mini-dress. Turquoise jewelry rattled on her wrists, neck, and ankles. Fred was 23 years old, he'd never won a PGA Tour event, and Deborah was so atremble in anticipation that I asked, "What will you do if he wins this thing?"

"Something!" said, with an exclamation point.

When Fred made a two-foot birdie putt to win a five-man playoff and $72,000, Deborah sprinted through that bunker, cowboy hat in hand, and leaped onto her husband, wrapping him in an embrace seldom scene outside lap-dance emporiums. From a safe distance away, I heard Deborah tell her man, "Babycakes, I love ya!"

Five years later, they divorced. Eighteen years later, Deborah committed suicide by leaping from the roof of a chapel.

*(Related: It's Not Easy Being Fred)*

--* Dave Kindred

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