As the Oldest Member, I’m often copied on irate letters and apologetic texts. Some get lost in the ethernet, so it’s my responsibility to bring them to your attention. Here’s a sampling.
You tied me at 82 official PGA Tour victories, but you know I won a lot more than that. The Google Machine credits me with 94 PGA-sanctioned tour wins, but the egghead professors in Pondy Verde robbed me. They count The Greenbrier as official one year and somehow unofficial the next. I won the West Virginia Open 17 times, but I guarantee you they didn’t count them. I just want to warn you, as time goes by, they’re gonna start taking away your majors. Like those three U.S. Amateurs you won. By my count, you’ve got 18 majors to Jack’s 20 (including his two National Amateurs), so you’re only two behind. Keep your eyes on those boys in accounting.
The Ghost of Sam Snead
TO: SEAN MCMANUS, CBS SPORTS
I’ve come to my senses and realize that maybe you didn’t fire me. Actually, I think I retired. I’ll be 73 by the time you read this, young enough to run for president but maybe a little too old to run around a golf course with a backpack and rabbit ears. You gave me the best 27 years of my life, traveling the world first-class, hanging with celebrities like Gary McCord and making a pretty good living. Not bad for a golf pro from Maine with a 6-handicap. I just want to say thank you very much.
DEAR MR. PALMER,
I’m writing you because I think I’ve dug myself into a divot hole over the last year. First, it started with short-paying my caddie in Mexico. He agreed to five grand for the week, never thinking I’d win a million pounds and the going rate would be 10 percent. At the match play, I won a hole when Sergio raked away a two-inch putt before I conceded it—was that wrong? Then there was the rules flap at the Memorial when I claimed relief because my ball landed in another player’s pitch mark. What are the odds of that? Then I said the sand particles were so coarse in a bunker in Germany that they actually were loose impediments and I was entitled to remove them. My manager, Mark Steinberg, told me that my motto should be to ask myself: What Would Arnie Do? So this is the third time I’ve sent you a letter, and I haven’t heard back.
Thanks for pointing out that I haven’t won a major championship since you joined the tour. I hadn’t realized that. I forgot my last major was the 2014 PGA at Valhalla, beating ol’ Phil by a shot. You know the tour-pro mentality—one week’s just like any other. I agree we haven’t had much of a rivalry. In fact, I don’t even notice when you’re in the field. Wish I could fly under the radar like you. Speaking of the Ryder Cup, what is it—Europe has won or retained the cup in 12 of the last 17 matches? Not much of a rivalry there, either. See you in Wisconsin.
I understand I am the problem. Some weeks the designated slow player is J.B. Holmes, and other weeks it’s Kevin Na or Jason Day. But even Justin Thomas was looking at his watch when I took over two minutes to miss an eight-foot putt. Or when my pre-shot calibrations turn glacial. I’m willing to donate my green-reading book to science. But the real problem is green speed getting out of control. If we slowed down the greens to a reasonable 11 or 12 on the Stimpmeter, especially in the majors, play would speed up. I have a beautiful mind.
The pro who knew infinity,
DEAR MR. NORMAN,
It’s come to my attention that you sent me a congratulatory letter after the Masters, and I didn’t respond. I’m sorry about that. I try to make it a practice these days to do the right thing. I maybe remember your note, because it had a big white fish on the letterhead, but no address. I see there’s a Greg Norman on the faculty of the University of Chicago and another who’s a lawyer in New York, and there’s an obesity doctor in San Diego. And one I think used to be a golf-pro-turned-vintner. Are any of them you? Please send me your address and postage, and I’d be happy to return an autographed picture.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images & Ozgur Donmaz