The eighth Canada
Cup match, which the American team of Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer won by the
comfortable margin of eight shots, was played at Portmarnock, in the dunelands
near Dublin, and while there are those who hold that among Irish courses both
Newcastle County Down and Portrush are superior, a great many more insist that
Portmarnock is not only Ireland's finest course but one of the four best tests
of golf in the British Isles—along with St. Andrews (where Arnold Palmer
competes in the British Open this week), Muirfield and Hoylake.
The majority of
Portmarnock's holes are tucked in the folds between the dunes or separated by
sharp ridges of rough. What makes the course fearsome, aside from its length
(7,093 yards), is the combination of heavy swirling winds and the formidable
rough—a thick growth of seaside grass, creeping willow, ferns, yarrow and
countless wild rosebushes.
For the Canada
Cup, the course played much easier than it usually does. To insure that the
fairways would be fresh and unscarred—new turf grows slowly—the members of the
club never used the fairways during the four months preceding the tournament.
Fairway lies were picked up and placed in the adjacent rough and played from
there. Can you imagine the members of our clubs willingly undergoing a similar
The rough, cut
short weeks before, had not grown back to its full terror, for this was
Ireland's driest spring in years. The lack of rain, of course, made the
fairways fast. On top of this, during the week of the match there was very
little wind. Each day around noon a ripple of breeze blew in with the tide, but
nothing like the whipping gales that in the past have made experts work like
the devil to break 80. In fact, during the four days of the tournament the
weather was uniformly warm and bright and, for Ireland, practically tropical.
"This is a typical Irish summer," the an taoiseach, or prime minister,
commented. "The first typical Irish summer we've had in 10 years."
After Gary Player set a new course record of 65 in the first round, most of the
native golf enthusiasts faced each ensuing sunny, windless day torn between joy
and dismay; they were happy their visitors liked the weather but they openly
confessed what a shame it was that the professional stars might be deprived of
experiencing the true glories of Portmarnock—which come only when it is played
in a fine cross-wind with a gold belt of rain.
disappointment, large crowds turned out for the match, 10,000 on the first and
second days, 15,000 on the third and close to 20,000 on the Sunday. The Irish,
much more than is generally realized, are keen and knowing golf fans. While you
cannot by any means call golf the national game, there are some 200 courses on
this island of 3 million people, the highest number of courses per capita of
any land in the world. After the two outstanding Irish professionals, Christy
O'Connor and Harry Bradshaw, carried off the Canada Cup in Mexico City in 1958,
thousands welcomed them as heroes and there were torchlight parades far into
Pleasure of the
This year there
were two things above all that the crowds wanted to see. First, they were
hopeful that their home team of O'Connor and Norman Drew (who replaced the
aging Bradshaw this year) would acquit themselves well. They did, too,
finishing fourth among the 30 competing nations, behind the U.S., England and
Australia. Second, they wanted to see Palmer and Snead in action, especially
Sam Snead, who has the stature of a legendary hero in their eyes. Slamming Sam
did not disappoint them. Until he faltered on the last nine the final day, he
was in wonderful form, long and straight off the tees, almost faultless with
his iron play, and putting beautifully. The galleries loved it. On the first
day, after Sam had poked out a particularly long drive, a man of the cloth
turned to a colleague and exclaimed, "Man, he certainly gives it a most
victory, the first since 1956, when Snead and Ben Hogan won at Wentworth in
England, was set up by two glorious rounds by Snead (68 and 67) on the second
and third days. In the Canada Cup the scores of both players are added together
and the winner is the team which compiles the lowest composite score for the
four rounds of 18 holes. After the first day, the American pair stood second.
On the second day they moved out in front. They opened a three-stroke lead on
the third day and on the last day the outcome was never in doubt. On that
fourth day Palmer was in one of his most resolute moods. Where Snead had put
the American pair into the lead, Palmer kept them there with his concluding 69.
The Australians, playing with the Americans, never mounted a serious challenge.
The South African team of Gary Player and Bobby Locke, out two hours earlier,
ruined their chances when they both botched up the 6th.
This hole, 586
yards up a gradual, well-trapped slope to a tilted green, is the longest hole
on any of the championship courses in the British Isles. The South Africans
came to it just after noon when the tide was in and the wind was up fairly
high. Their tee shots were blown into the rough to the left of the narrow
fairway. Player's recovery left him still in the rough. He hooked his third
even farther off line. He arrived at the edge of the green with his fourth but
then took three to get down for a catastrophic 7. Locke fared only slightly
better, hitting the green with his fourth and winding up with a 6. (Bobby, it
should be remarked, produced an amazing performance for a man still not
completely recovered from the recent auto accident in which his skull was
fractured. Twenty pounds lighter, the sight in his left eye all but gone, and
walking with the jittery eggshell step of an old man, he looked like a ghost.
For all this, he showed that his genius for the game is little impaired. He was
around twice in par 72 and on another round in a marvelous 69.)
Most of the
interest on that last day centered on the duel for the individual scoring
honors between Snead and his exact contemporary from Belgium, 48-year-old Flory
Van Donck. Van Donck is not the strongest finisher in the world, but this time
he held on well and was posting his 70 at about the same time that Sam, putting
shakily now and beginning to pull his drives, was running into his third