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Rub of the Green

October 18, 2008

Rub of the Green: Taking memory lane back to world of golf in 1958

“Time Flies.”

Although consisting of just two words, this axiom conjures up a multitude of golfers’ recollections that have transpired during the past half-century. Wait a minute! Let’s call it “during the past 50 years.” That sounds better to those of us who happen to be “long of tooth.” At any rate, here we go down memory lane.

In professional golf, 1958 was the first year the touring pros played for a total season purse that exceeded one million dollars for the 39 tournaments that were scheduled.

This was the year Arnold Palmer won The Masters for his first major championship. He persevered by a stroke over Fred Hawkins and defending champion, Doug Ford. Arnie went on to become the most charismatic golfer ever to grace a fairway.

Tommy “Thunder” Bolt captured the U.S. Open contested at Southern Hills C. C. in Tulsa (OK), with a single shot victory over Gary Player.

Bolt was recognized as one of golf’s best ball strikers, but a volcanic temper sometimes stood in his way. Bolt once was reputed to ask his caddy for an 8-iron when his caddy handed him a 3-iron. “I said I want an 8-iron,” Tommy growled.

The caddy insisted, “You’ve got to hit a three.” Tommy screamed “Why do I have to hit the three when I have an 8-iron shot?” At that time his caddy answered, “Because that’s the only iron you have left in the bag. You’ve broken all the rest.”

The ‘58 Open would prove to be Tempestuous Tommy’s only major championship. A reporter supposedly asked him, “What’s the toughest shot in golf?” Bolt answered, “The one you’re trying to hit next.”

In 1958, Dow Finsterwald won the first PGA Championship contested at stroke play instead of the traditional match play format. He shot 276 for a two shot win over Billy Casper at Llanerch C. C. in Havertown, Pa. Finsterwald was also named the PGA Player of the Year.

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