*__It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.
-- P. G. Wodehouse, The Man Upstairs (1914)__*
It’s never a good policy to criticize your customers, but that’s why I’m not in sales. So this will be in defense of the guys who bring you golf, via keyboard and mike, prompted by a few of those letters that are, depending on your interpretation, grudging compliments or slaps upside the head with a gap wedge.
Here’s Jim Kun of Akron, writing in response to Dan Jenkins’ “The First Masters I Covered” in April. __“Too bad you weren’t at the 1946 Masters, your article could have read that Herman Keiser 3-putted 18 to win the Masters instead of Hogan 3-putting to lose. (Herman missed the same 30-inch putt). Oh well, the press never cared for Herman anyway. I could tell you Herman’s comments about it, but I’ll save you from reading it much less writing about it or Herman….” __
Whoa, Jim. I understand why you might feel Herman has been slighted here, especially if you knew him, and it’s true that Ben Hogan finished after Keiser, and had he two-putted, would have tied Keiser and (only) forced a playoff. But Hogan is Hogan and Keiser is Keiser. Hogan won the Masters twice. In 25 starts, he finished in the top-25 21 times, the top-10 17 times, the top-5 nine times. Keiser, who played 26 times, finished all 72 holes nine times, finished in the top-25 six times, won once, finished in the top-5 once. So I think Dan’s interpretation is right. Hogan 3-putted to lose. (Honestly, who would you bet on in that playoff?)
More to the point, the way we think of Hogan, the way we see the Masters, is in a million ways due to Dan’s interpretation, his telling of these stories. And I’d say, for the most part, it’s been pretty unerring over the decades. Perfect, no, but about as close as anybody writing today ever got. And I think you know that. You did sign off with, “Keep up the good work,” after all. It’s one of the reasons why the Masters will honor Jenkins and 13 other writers who have covered at least 40 Masters, including our Nick Seitz and Dave Kindred, during Masters Week. But Golf Digest and Golf World have also profiled Keiser over the years. Might be worth another look….Or, go back to the original coverage of that 1946 Masters at Augustachronicle.com. The fee for the Chronicle's archive section is well worth it. You'll love digging through those old stories.
We got a similar letter from Mark Dall of Linthicum Heights, Maryland, on Jaime Diaz’ Golf on TV story. But he took our brethren in the booth to task. “The success of Golf on TV is simple: ‘These guys are good.’ I find it ironic that the golf-tournament announcers think so highly of themselves…The interviews with Tiger after a round is, well, ‘yawn.’ Compare that to watching Tiger’s precisely placed chip shot, the ball rolling gracefully to the hole, stopping at the lip, and majestically drop. ‘Double fist-pump’ Awesome!”
Mark, who can argue with that comparison? But those folks earn their money when Tiger’s off his game, or not there, and the two contenders, who you’ve never heard of, are seeing who can make the most bogeys on their way to hugging their wives and kids on a course you don't recognize. That’s when the story-telling begins, and most of the time they do it pretty well. Speaking of storytelling, check out Jim Nantz’s revisiting of the 1960 Masters, to air just before this year’s tournament. Outstanding, as chronicled by Bill Fields in this coming week’s Golf World.