SI Vault
Gwilym S. Brown
September 11, 1961
So says U.S. Champion Deane Beman, a new kind of businessman-amateur who has good reason to believe he will make a fortune while winning golf's big titles
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September 11, 1961

'it Solid Has To Click'

So says U.S. Champion Deane Beman, a new kind of businessman-amateur who has good reason to believe he will make a fortune while winning golf's big titles

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Beman has so much brass that while waiting to take Miriam Orndorff out on a date he would recount to a horrified Mrs. Orndorff numerous, if wholly imaginative, disasters that had befallen the Beman family. Even Beman's longtime golfing friend and principal rival for the Amateur Championship, Jack Nicklaus, has learned to appreciate his artistry with a yarn. "Deane can be a great talker," says Nicklaus. "When he starts telling some of his stories you've got to take the square root of what he says and divide by eight to get anywhere near the truth."

A fine athlete

While Beman may have been a light-hearted storyteller, he was also a proficient and serious athlete. As a junior-high-school undergraduate he starred for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase recreation center 125-pound football team. On defense he was a vicious tackier. On offense he played right halfback and, though not exceptionally fast, he was as slippery as a wild piston, pumping his knees so high when he carried the ball that he proved a difficult target to tackle. The year he was 13, in fact, he scored 125 of his team's 158 points.

Beman started playing golf when he was 12. His father, Delmar Jr., is a former football player, golfer and, during high school days, a 220-yard sprinter. Father Beman's nervous energy makes even his restless son seem sleepy by comparison. Delmar wasted no time getting his family into golf. He came home from his public relations job one day, announced that he had just joined the Bethesda Country Club, and produced six sets of $34.95 golf clubs: one for himself, one for Mrs. Beman, and one each for the four Beman children, Arlene, Del III, Louis and Deane, the youngest. Deane, however, didn't really begin to take the game seriously until he was 15, but was almost immediately a winner. While still 15, he was low qualifier from the Washington area for the National Junior. At 16 he went south and pulled a big surprise by winning the South Florida Amateur. And at 17 he qualified for the U.S. Open, one of the youngest golfers ever to do so.

It was not until the spring of 1959, when Beman was 21, that he first gained national prominence. He played in Great Britain on the Walker Cup team and then, though his cash ran out, stayed on to score an astonishing victory in the British Amateur.

"I was solid the worst player on the Walker Cup squad," Beman admits, "but I was determined to play myself back into form." Beman hit 200 practice shots a day, then, when the tournament began, marched steadily through the Amateur. Leonard Crawley, the London Daily Telegraph golf writer, was so impressed by Beman that he described him as "'a magnificent player, fierce, mechanical, methodical and utterly efficient." This is an ecstatic, yet still accurate, description of Beman in action on a golf course. It is when Beman holds a putter in his hands that he is at his efficient best. Beman himself feels that putting is the essence of his game. "I don't mind being outdriven," he says, "but I start getting mad if the fellow I'm playing with outputts me."

Beman describes his putting stroke as "a little wrist, a little arm, a little shoulder," but in its most vital element the shaft of the putter rests between the pads at the base of the left hand, not under the bottom pad. "This grip just solid keeps the club face square," he says. "There's almost no way you can pull the putt." Beman developed his stroke in high school through hours spent at night on the sparsely lighted practice green at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, near the Beman home. Often the patient Miriam would be with him. "I don't know what my mother believed when I told her we'd spent the evening out putting," Miriam says, "but I guess I would have gone anywhere Deane wanted me to go."

The result of all this practice is a putting grip, stance and stroke that seem as effortless as breathing. "Look at that stroke!" exclaims Nicklaus, who coils excruciatingly over his own putts like a man searching for four-leaf clovers. "It has feel, it has touch written all over it. How he can putt so well under pressure I don't know. He must have no nerves at all."

"Jack may be right," agrees Beman. "If I had jumpy nerves and got excited on the green when the going was rough I probably wouldn't have a chance. But if your nerves are tough enough this is the best way to putt."

Obviously, the same qualities of toughness and confidence, plus a frank, open manner, help make Beman the superb salesman he is and a perfect contact man for Beman & Buppert Associates. Beman started selling insurance for Bill Buppert while majoring in business at Maryland. Buppert, a Maryland economics major who left school in 1951, is a big, dark, round-faced man with a slow drawl and a fast eye for a dollar. He went into the insurance business in 1954 after two years as an assistant golf professional. By 1960 Buppert knew so much about insurance and Beman had corralled so many accounts that the two incorporated the present partnership. The firm is housed in a modern five-room office and consists of themselves, a sales force of five and an office staff of two.

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