LINKS MASTERS AND THE MISTRESS

Official OGC Journalism For Inquiring Minds
SPRING 2014
LINKS
IF IT’S NEWS, IT’S NEWS TO US
No. 8
MASTERS
AND THE
MISTRESS
BY DICK CICCONE
Angry golfers showed up at the Park District's Golf Committee meeting on Saturday, and
they wanted more than coffee and doughnuts.
Large turnout confronts Golf
Operations Committee:
"What are you doing to our head
pro," they wanted to know
WILMETTE, MARCH 8 -- While no
visitors were present for the February
monthly meeting of the Park District’s
Golf Operations Committee, over 50
hard-core golf cour se patrons,
representing both men's and women's
clubs, arrived en masse for the March 8
session. The reason: they wanted to
voice their opinions over the apparent
demotion of Head Pro Jamie Locke.
In his place, the Park District seeks to
bring in a business manager to run the
club, pro shop and driving range. While
the committee said that policy
prevented them from discussing
personnel issues, they tried to assure the
gathering that Locke will be able to
make up for his pay cut with additional
time that he can now spend on the
range giving lessons. Steve Wilson, the
Park District’s Executive Director, said
that this action does not negatively
impact Locke’s retirement, as every
dollar he earns teaching will be paid via
his W-2 and will count towards his
pension calculation.
As to a reason for the change, the
committee pointed to the need for long
term planning as Course
Superintendent Mike Matchen
approaches retirement.
Nevertheless, this assurance seemed to
do little to quell the emotions of those
in attendance as golfer after golfer rose
to voice opinions in support of Locke;
the friendly and helpful nature of his
pro shop; and the professionalism he
and his staff have brought to the
course. In addition to tributes for
Locke, numerous critical comments
were directed at the Park District for
this personnel change and the way it
was handled.
The committee reported that no one
has yet been hired to fill the Business
Manager position. Representing the
Golf Operations Committee were
Chair James Brault, Amy Wolfe, Bryan
Abbott and Jeffrey Bowen. Also in
attendance from the Park District was
Executive Director Steve Wilson.
The Masters is only five weeks away and there are some
pertinent questions about this year’s event that focus on
OGC golfers.
Bookmakers are making it an even bet that there will be
fewer players in red figures than Wilmette had days of sub
zero temperatures (26).
As you watch the tournament on television and see the lush
blooming azaleas, magnolias and dogwood, the odds are you
won’t be able to see your own lawn because of dirty snow
and slush.
Only 10 players will shoot a number than is higher than the
number of inches of snow (78) that fell on the Wilmette Golf
Course. Two of them will be amateurs and none of them
will be named Rory or Tiger.
You will hear a lot of TV mumble about the two women
members that Augusta now has. There will be no discussion
that the OGC should admit women.
But that leads us to consider why these pages often reminisce
about history’s great golfers or momentous golf matches and
have failed to mention women. (continued on next page)
One of the game's most dominant players wasn't a man.
Dick Ciccone Cover Story Continued
THIS BABE WAS THE
SULTANESS OF SWING
But first some U.S. history about a Texas town
named Beaumont, a humid sticky town not far
from either the Gulf of Mexico or the Louisiana
border.
Two rather remarkable events occurred in
Beaumont shortly after the turn of the 20ths
century. On Jan. 10, 1901, a couple of wildcatters
with a theory that you might find oil under a salt
dome struck a geyser named Spindletop that
gushed 100,000 barrels of oil a day.
Once
Spindletop came in the U.S. immediately became
the world’s No. 1 oil producer. And it would have
been No. 1 even if every other well in the country
shut down!
Spindletop continued to be a productive source of
oil until the 1930s and was the most important
thing that ever happened in Beaumont until June
26, 1911 when the second momentous event took
place.
Babe
… That was the day Mildred Ella Didrickson was
born. Her mother, a Norwegian immigrant, called
her “Babe.”
This June will mark the 60th anniversary of the
Babe’s runaway triumph at the U.S. Women’s Open
at the Salem Country Club in Peabody,
Massachusetts—a feat that surely was one of the
most courageous performances in sport.
Didrickson became the greatest woman athlete of
the 20th Century, the greatest woman golfer ever
and no less an expert that Bobby Jones declared her
one of the ten best golfers of any sex, putting her in
the same company as Jones, Walter Hagen, Hogan,
Snead and Nelson.
She racked up more “firsts” as both a woman
athlete and woman golfer than anyone before or
since.
She played every sport offered for girls at Beaumont
High School, and her record stands at the top for
athletic versatility. She set records in track and
field, was an All-American in basketball, mastered
tennis, played organized baseball with the House of
David, and was an expert diver, roller-skater and
bowler. She also spent a short time in 1933
performing on Vaudeville.
She even won the
sewing contest at the Texas State Fair.
She dropped out of high school and, Didrickson,
who stood 5’ 7” and weighed 115 pounds, got a
secretarial job in Dallas at the Employer’s Casualty
Company, but she was really hired to play
basketball and run track for their company teams in
AAU (American Athletic Union) sponsored events.
She was named a basketball All American in 1930,
1931 and 1932.
When she put down the basketball at the seasons’
end, she picked up a javelin and baseball. In 1930,
in the national AAU track and field meet, she won
the javelin and baseball throw. In 1931, in the
same competition, she won the long jump, then set
a world record in the baseball throw (296 feet—
longer than most Cub outfielders can throw) and
added another AAU record by winning the 80
meter hurdler in 12 seconds.
In the 1932 Olympic tryouts, the Illinois Women’s
Athletic Club entered 22 contestants and finished
second as a team. Babe entered as an individual
and won by herself, with 30 points. It has been
declared to be the greatest single achievement in a
series of events in the history of athletics. She
entered eight of the 10 events. She won the shot
put, the javelin and baseball throws, the 80 meter
hurdles and qualified for five events in the 1932
Olympics at Los Angeles but was allowed to enter
only three.
As opposed to the U.S. Postal Service, Babe
delivered when it mattered.
She won two gold medals for javelin and 80m
hurdles.
She tied for the high jump with an
Olympic record of 5’5¼”, but because of her
“western roll” style jump, which had never been
questioned before, she was awarded the silver
medal.
Then she took up golf.
At age 24, she won the first tournament she
entered, the 1935 Texas Woman’s Invitational. She
would win 40 more amateur tournaments over the
next decade and was the first American to win the
British Women’s Amateur and the first to win both
the British and U.S. Women’s Amateur. She won
the Western Women’s Open three times as an
amateur and professional. She qualified for the Los
Angeles Open in 1938 and remains the only
woman to qualify for a men’s tournament. In
recent years Anika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie
played in men’s events on sponsor’s exemptions.
Didrickson played in both the 1945 Phoenix and
Tucson men’s tournaments on sponsors’ exemption
and made the cut both times. (continued on next
page)
A rare photo of
Ben Hogan,
witout a
cigarette, as he
takes time to
congratulate
Babe on one of
her many wins.
To avoid slow play during her practice rounds,
Babe would often skip holes and jump around a
course.
Hey Babe, take a walk on the wild side
Cover Story Conclusion
In 1948, she became the first woman to attempt
to qualify for the U.S. Open, but her
application was rejected by the USGA. They
stated that the event was intended to be open to
men only.
In one golf promotional event she was paired
with a professional wrestler, George Zaharias
and they were married in 1938 and she was
known thereafter as Babe Zaharias. But the
marriage was not a story book affair. One
Zaharias biographer wrote that Didrickson was
in love with a another golfer, Betty Dodd.
“The women toured together on the golf
circuit, and eventually Dodd moved in with
Zaharias and Didrikson. Victims of the
homophobia of the times, they never used the
word "lesbian" to describe their relationship,
but there is little doubt that Dodd and
Didrikson were intimate and loving partners."
Zaharias’ victory at the 1940 Western Women’s
Open was the first of her 10 major titles,
including the U.S. Women’s Open in 1948,
1950 and 1954.
She won 17 of the 18 tournaments she entered
in 1946-47, including the U.S. Women’s
Amateur in 1946 and the British Women’s
Amateur in 1947. She won three straight to
begin 1946, lost a tournament, and then won
14 in a row. Compare that to Byron Nelson’s
remarkable PGA string of 11 victories in 1945.
She was a pioneer of the LPGA tour which
began in 1950 and Zaharias also played on the
W P G A ( Wo m e n ' s P r o f e s s i o n a l G o l f
Association) tour, which was founded in 1944
but stopped its limited tour after the 1948
season and officially ceased operations in
December 1949.
She won 41 times as a professional in an era
where there were few tournaments on the
fledgling tour. She won the LPGA "grand
slam," claiming all three majors played in 1950
and won five of the eight events she entered in
1952. She holds the LPGA records for fastest to
10 wins, in a little over one year on the tour;
fastest to 20 wins, in her first two and one-half
years; and fastest to 30 win, in five years. She
was the leading money-winner on the tour for
four years in a row from 1948 through 1951.
Zaharias was, by far, the biggest star of the
young LPGA. At tournaments, she was a
showman and a showboat. Her on-course
banter with fans was often off-color, sometimes
crude, but always entertaining. Charles
McGrath of The New York Times said of
Zaharias, "Except perhaps for Arnold Palmer,
no golfer has ever been more beloved by the
gallery". Babe's star power has often been
credited with keeping the fledgling tour alive,
and behind the scenes she worked tirelessly to
line up sponsors.
The Babe gets ready to celebrate her birdie putt for "Umby" on top a quintuple press that was quadrupled by a Rock 'n
Roll press on the 18th tee.
She was the only woman named Associated
Press Female Athlete of the Year six times—
once for her triumphant Olympic year and five
times as the most dominant woman golfer. And
it wasn’t like there was no competition. She
played against pioneer greats Louise Suggs,
Betsy Rawls and Patty Berg, as well as the only
woman who some think was a better golfer
than Babe—Mickey Wright.
Her peer’s admiration for her was as great as
the galleries. Berg once said, “When I finish
second to Babe, I feel like I’ve won.”
Zaharias was named the AP’s greatest woman
athlete of the first half century in 1950 and the
greatest woman athlete of the 20th Century in
2000. Perhaps the only male in a list of “great”
golfers who would remotely come close to her
athletic prowess would have been Sam Snead
who was a high school all state performer in
football and track.
Babe was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1953
and had surgery April 17, 1953, in Beaumont. A year later she was back on the tour and at age
41 had a remarkable year: She won the Vare
Trophy for lowest scoring average and won five
times including her courageous third triumph
in the U.S. Women’s Open.
Babe played in the 1954 Open with a
colostomy bag inside her skirt. She took a twoshot lead over Mickey Wright in the opening
round, stretched it to five shots in round two
and despite a final day three over par won by a
whopping 12 strokes over runner-up Betty
Hicks.
Some may argue that Tiger Woods’ gutty
victory on a tortured knee in the 2008 Open at
Torrey Pines was a profile in courage -- and it
was. But at least Tiger didn’t play knowing he
was on borrowed time.
Eight months after her victory at Salem,
Zaharias’ cancer had returned in her back. She
underwent more surgeries and at age 45 in
September 1956 she died.
In her obituary, the New York Times’ McGrath
wrote, “She broke the mold of what a lady
golfer was supposed to be. The ideal in the 20s
and 30s was, Joyce Wetherd, a willowy English
woman with a picture-book swing that
produced elegant shots but not especially long
ones. Zaharias developed a grooved athletic
swing reminiscent of Lee Trevino's, and she
was so strong off the tee that a fellow Texan,
the great golfer Byron Nelson, once said that he
knew of only eight men who could outdrive
her.”
"It's not enough just to swing at the ball," Babe said.
"You've got to loosen your girdle and really let the ball
have it."
What hath winter
wrought upon our
hallowed new golfing
ground?
When asked what effect our brutal winter will have on the course’s major
reconstruction effort last summer and fall, Course Superintendent Mike
Matchen replied, “At this point I don’t know what I am going to find once
the snow and ice melts. There is 1-2 feet of frost in the ground and quite
a bit of ice and snow covering it. The good thing is that there was a good
snow cover before the bitter cold hit, that helped prevent desiccation. My
concern going forward is that there was a thaw in late December and
another in mid January with a freeze the next day. I don’t know if the
younger grass plants are hearty enough to make it through this type of
winter.”
Matchen added, “I am less concerned about the areas that had been cut
several times and already established. I don’t know what we are going to
find once the ice and snow melts. The fairways that were not seeded until
mid October. Holes 5, 6 and 7 were covered with straw and the seed
should germinate in the spring.”
“We had good weather and they accomplished quite a bit in a short
amount of time. Now we have to grow it in, we are prepared to do
whatever we have to do this spring when it comes to sodding, over seeding
and hydro mulching any damaged areas. We are not sure what we are
going to find when the snow and ice melts, but we are all anxious to get to
work on it.”
Voicing concerns of the Golf Chnnel audience, Roger Maltbie quizzes greenskeeper Mike
Matchen on the winter recovery prospects for the newly renovated Wilmette golf course.
"As far as the project itself, it finished up in mid October and the only thing
left to do is punch list stuff. In 67 work days Wadsworth Construction
accomplished quite a bit."
• Rebuilt 14 greens and re-grassed five others • Built 51 sand traps
•Expanded
three lakes and dug a bioswale • Rebuilt 10 tee complexes • Dug out 9,200 ft.
of cart paths • Installed over 17,000 ft of main drains from 15 inches down to
4 inches • Installed over 150 catch basins • Installed over 7,000 ft. of lateral
drain tiles in greens and sand traps • Re-graded and seeded every fairway.
Angry, cold golfers protest Winter's
refusal to invade South America.
It is six months until the OGC Championship.
The long range forecast predicts there will be only one day in March, the
19th, where the temperature is 60. The forecast predicts the temperature
will not reach 70 until the day before Memorial Day which, of course, will
be cold and raining as it always is.
Because of the ice covering almost all the Great Lakes, weathermen are
predicting a very cool spring.
In fact, they are proposing that spring be moved from March 20 to June 1
and that summer begins on July 15. They want to move fall back to Aug.
15 which means Wilmette will have 30 days of summer in 2014.
What else is new?
FOOD FIGHT FACT:
You can't attend the OGC Opening Dinner on
April 24 unless you're a 2014 member.
But, renewing is as easy as sending Noel Jackson
an email: jacksonhnoel@gmail.com
$85 full membership.
Optional $10 for hole-in-one pool.
YOUR 2014 OGC
BATTLE SCHEDULE
• Lottery -- Tuesday April 22
• Opening Dinner --- Thursday April 24
• Mt Prospect IC -- Saturday May 17@Mt Prospect
• Healy Classic -- Wednesday July 16 (Shotgun 1:00)
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•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
W Cup IC -- Saturday July 12
Slider Cup -- Friday Aug 8 (Shotgun 1:30)
August Skins -- Friday Aug 15 (a.m. Tee Times)
GO Cup -- Sat Aug 23 & Sun Aug 24 Club Championship -- Sept 6 & 7 (Rain Date 13 & 14)
Fall Classic -- Thursday 9/18 (Shotgun 12:30)
Closing Dinner -- Wednesday November 5
Turkey Shoot -- Saturday November 15
Match Play -- June 1-October 1 or June 15-October 15
Twilight -- June 5-August 28 or June 17-August 28
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