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19TH HOLE: The readers take over
September 01, 1958
TURF: EXIT THE REAL HORSESirs:Although a New Yorker, I now live out here in California where I am happy to say that, among other pleasures, children are permitted to enjoy a holiday with their families at the track, watching the sport of kings. Of course they cannot make a bet, which is highly proper, but they can watch sleek, beautiful horses carry flashy, colored silks in contests of speed, which are both exciting and entertaining. That's why I was delighted to read last spring that John W. Hanes, president of the New York Racing Association, was going to allow children into the New York tracks with their parents.
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September 01, 1958

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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1) Connie Mack Stadium is the world's most uncomfortable ball park. Leg room is unheard of, and many of the seats are broken, sloping downward from back to front, causing the fans to struggle to stay seated. And there are 58 wide and opaque posts stretching from upper roof to lower grandstand.

2) The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has some extraordinary rules. The sacred-ness of past-6:59-on-a-Sunday-eve must never be desecrated by baseball (though movies are fine), and everyone must wait months for the outcome of the second game to be determined. And the Commonwealth, with true paternalism, allows no beer to be sold to steady volatility when things go badly, limiting all to 25-cent Cokes. I suspect that many of the boos are, perhaps unconsciously, directed at the governor and legislature, neither of whom has seen fit to remedy the situation.

3) Loud fan noises in unison cause players on both teams occasionally to do interesting and unusual things. (What a shame that Ted Williams does not have the benefit of Phillie fans!) And evidently we Philadelphia fans have discovered something no other fans have discovered: when you put 24,000 people together in a ball park and have them all produce a sound calculated to frighten players, sportswriters and pedestrians within a 10-block radius of 21st and Lehigh Avenue—it's fun!
New York City

Herbert Wind's lament about the turn of the annual PGA tournament from match to stroke play (SI, Aug. 4) prompted a pang of reflection. It was this same dollar sign that caused the demise of golf's greatest pro show. That was the old international Four Ball played in the 1930s at the now extinct Miami Country Club.

It was a better-ball event, match play in foursomes, and the galleries loved it. Horton Smith, Paul Runyan, Denny Shute, Johnny Revolta, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Jug McSpaden, Wild Bill Mehlhorn, Jimmy Demaret, Ben Hogan, Wiffy Cox, Olin Dutra, Willie Macfarlane, Willie Goggin, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen were some of the great ones invited to play in the 32-team event each year.

Matches were over 36 holes and had the meadows full of sparkling foursomes. Par meant little. One or another team member was always going for the birdie. Low ball scores were usually deep in the 60s as the boys went all out on every shot.

The 8th hole was a fine place to check all fronts. You could watch play into No. 4 green, tee shots and second shots on No. 5, the long seconds into No. 7 (a testy par 5 that was birdied and eagled with abandon). No. 8, a 135 par 3 called the "doughnut," an island green surrounded by water, was played with stilettolike deftness. The ball was not bludgeoned with professional might, but caressed and scalpeled to the cup with touching effort that figured every blade of Bermuda between tee and lip. It was not infrequent for a foursome to come away with a total of eight strokes on the hole.

It was on the steps to the clubhouse that bouncing Jim Demaret, after carefully pocketing his share of first-prize money split with partner Ben Hogan, broke into song to entertain the partisan fans he had captured on the course.

Some of Florida's and the nation's best golf history was recorded at the Miami Country Club. And the top chapter, for my money, was the international Four Ball. I wish someone with the cash, courage and devotion to the game would revive it. It was golf's greatest tournament.
Sarasota, Fla.

I thought you might be interested to see how the Hula-Hoop (SI, Aug. 4) has caught on here in southern California. The picture shows some of the more than 1,000 children ranging in age from 2 to 16 who recently competed at a "tournament" in (of course) Hollywood. Some of them had got to be thoroughly expert and twirled while tap dancing. What price Frisbee now?
Los Angeles

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