News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 18, 2008

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

By Bob Arnett

“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.

Australian Peter Thompson claimed his fourth British Open title during a five-year period.

His win at Hoylake allowed him to join only eight other players to win the Claret Jug four times.

In women’s professional golf Patty Berg won the last of a record 15 major championships when she captured the Women’s Western Open title.

Mickey Wright would win her first major championship and go on to add a dozen more. Wright was believed by many to have golf’s best swing among men or women.

Gary Player won the Kentucky Derby Open for his first win on the PGA Tour. At that time he was 22 years old. He would later be recognized as one of golf’s “Big Three” joining Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus with that designation.

• Congratulations to Chris Cassell for his sparkling 68 in the annual Interclub Match and a tip of the hat to the Hulman Links squad as they secured “bragging rights” for the coming season.

Kudos are due to North’s Rachel Welker and South’s Sloane Engle for qualifying for the Indiana High School Golf Finals. It’s never easy to achieve, but it’s always an outstanding feat as well as a learning experience.

• Tip of the week — Stay down on your putts, don’t come up and out of the position you were in when you stroked the ball. Don’t even follow the ball with your eyes; just listen for the sound of the ball falling into the cup.

Well, that’s the - 30- mark for this columnist for our 19th season. Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. Maybe, just maybe we can tee it up for one more golf season.