Remembering a press room legend, bucket hat and all
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- This morning, Furman Bisher would have come to the press building, probably a little late. Age has its perks, and when you're 93 years old, you're in no hurry, anyway. He'd drop his stuff at Row C, seat 11, there by a small plaque attached to the woodwork: "Masters Major Achievement Honoree: Furman Bisher."
Everyone who's worked at a Masters 40 times gets one of those. Furman had passed 40 at a high rate of speed. This would have been his 63rd. But he up and did the last damned thing any of us imagined him doing. He'd already decided to delay back surgery so he could be here. Last month he was about to leave a hospital's emergency room -- he'd complained of feeling poorly -- when the heart attack happened. An eulogist at his funeral said, "Furman died with his shoes on."
He'd have come to this Masters in his golf shoes, ready to walk. He was no longer the young lion stalking the leaders for 18 holes. But he knew the story wasn't at his seat. He knew the feel was on the ground. He know how to smell the roses. Once, when we wrote for the same newspaper on the same day, to avoid duplication, I asked Furman what he would write. "Judas priest," he said, "general observations on the day's events." I chose another topic. Only Furman could make general observations sing.
This morning, he'd have picked up his old sweaty yellow bucket hat, the one with an Augusta National logo on it. He'd have left the press building to see what damage the night's storm had done. He'd have had lunch with his wife, Lynda.
Soon enough, he'd be hammering at his laptop, index fingers dancing.
His absence is palpable. The Augusta folks left his press room seat open. On a hat stand at the seat, they put a yellow bucket hat.
-- Dave Kindred*
(Photo: Sam Weinman)