News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports Columns

September 19, 2012

RUB OF THE GREEN: Memories of Crooked Stick

TERRE HAUTE — The BMW tournament that concluded Sept. 9 at Crooked Stick in Carmel brought back a flood of memories.

One was the first PGA Championship I covered for the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. In 1991, John Daly was a most unlikely winner after making the field as the ninth alternate. What began as a fairy tale later turned into a horror story due to twin addictions of alcohol and gambling.

Back when Crooked Stick was in its infancy, I let my high school golf teammate and good friend Bill Doan know that I would like to play Crooked Stick. Doan was a member of a prestigious group named “the Society of Seniors.” Among its members were many of the top senior amateurs in the U.S. Doan’s resume also included a charter membership in the Terre Haute Golf Association’s Hall of Fame. He teamed with Mark Fisk to win the Terre Haute 4-Ball in 1955. Later, he would win the Indiana Seniors title. On two occasions, he qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.

Some arrangements were made to meet Jack Lehr, a former Indiana Amateur champion and a close friend of Doan’s. At the clubhouse, we were informed that Mr. Lehr was in there with Mr. Mathis. I surmised that Mathis was a businessman or a golfing friend of Lehr’s. I was amazed when I saw that Mr. Mathis was really Johnny Mathis, the world-renowned singer who was in Indianapolis to perform at Starlight Musicals. Although never one to be easily impressed by celebrity, I found Johnny Mathis to be a genuinely gracious individual who was as down to earth as anyone could be.

After complimenting his playing partners and signing a number of autographs, he excused himself so he could get ready for an evening’s performance. Before he left, he related some interesting stories.

In one foreign country, he was slated to be on stage at 3 a.m. He was informed that all concerts were scheduled for that time, which was usual in that part of the world.

After each number, he waited for applause that never came. After he finished his performance, he remarked to the concert promoter: “I’m sorry I did so poorly. They never applauded once.”

The man replied, “On the contrary, they enjoyed you immensely. When they are displeased with your performance, they scream and clap.”

I indicated to Johnny that I felt his style of singing was so unique and singular; he would never have to worry about being imitated as some singers are. It was apparent that Mathis made many fans at Crooked Stick that day.

I I I

Neither Tim Clements nor his wife Susan got an early start on the current golf season. They answered a call from their daughter Annie. She and her husband Nathan are now the parents of four youngsters, which include three girls and one boy. All are under the age of 7. They are Carter, Claire, Caleb and Cole.

It hasn’t taken long for grandfather Tim’s golf game to get hot. He has carded rounds of 66, 67 and 68 at The Landing during the past two or three weeks.

Both Tim and golf buddy, Herb McConnell, can combine their talents to produce a strong two-man team. They picked up the winners’ share in a number of events held at Elks Fort Harrison Country Club in the past before it became The Landing.

I I I

Both Darrell Davis and his wife Carol have qualified for the national finals of the Golfweek Amateur Golf Tour. Darrell captured his flight a short time ago when he fired a 76 at Deer Creek Golf Club. Tournament dates are Oct. 19-21 at Hilton Head.

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Some golfing friends of Loren Butts met at the Bramble Bush restaurant recently to celebrate Loren’s 93rd birthday.    

They included Don Tyler, Duane Klueh, Carl McKee, Chuck Buckalew, Frank Davis Don James, Jon Rhodenbaugh, Les Brown and Bob Arnett.

I I I

David Feherty continues to be one of the most entertaining characters in the world of golf. Here are a couple of his gems:

“The ball was so far left, Lassie couldn’t find it if it was wrapped in bacon.”

On Jim Furyk’s swing — “It looks like an octopus falling out of a tree.”

I I I

Tip of the week: Former ISU men’s golf coach George Amies took a look at the grip utilized by Tim Clements and expressed amazement that Clements could hit the ball straight without being plagued with a strong hook. Tim Tennant is another golfer who utilizes the same technique. Both players are adept at some excellent scores. Tennant thinks nothing of rounds that at times are played in the low 60s.

These players are adherents to the adage, “If it works, don’t fix it.”

Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. We’ll be back.

Bob Arnett can be reached by e-mail at subob@aol.com.

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