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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Deane Beman, a buoyant young man who likes his hair cut short and his cars cut low, is the prospering proof that amateur golf can yield up a spectacular living to the sportsman energetic enough and shrewd enough to play the angles as well as he plays his shots. This can be done without recourse to cash prizes, under-the-table payments, fraudulent betting coups or any of the other nimble trappings of semiprofessional-ism. It can be done merely by selling—selling insurance, selling oil or lumber or stocks or even good will—and it only partly matters if the salesman is good. As long as his golf is good, other golfers will buy from him—and generously.

In recent years dozens of amateurs have discovered this delightful idiosyncrasy of the American golfing public, but few of them have capitalized on it with quite the unflinching determination that characterizes Deane Randolph Beman. One very good reason is that almost none of them can play golf as well as Beman, who at 23 has already won the British Amateur (1959), been named to two Walker Cup teams and last year won the U.S. Amateur Championship. Last week in Seattle, Beman teamed with Jack Nicklaus to beat James Walker and Brian Chapman 6 and 5 in the foursomes, then won 3 and 2 over British Amateur Champion Mike Bonallack as he helped the U.S. retain the Walker Cup, 11 matches to one. Next week he will defend his Amateur Championship against 199 golfers at Pebble Beach.

Born into a family of middle-class means and still without his college degree (he dropped out of the University of Maryland when his business and golf commitments became too heavy), Beman has industriously transformed his golfing titles and talents into a fully equipped, air-conditioned, five-bedroom house in a comfortable growing suburb of Washington, D.C.; also into a fully equipped, air-conditioned 1961 Thunderbird sedan for himself and a 1961 Comet for his wife Miriam; and into an insurance business that probably will make him a millionaire before he is 30.

On a recent summer morning Beman stood in the front hall of his fresh new house in Bethesda, Md., about to begin a typically businesslike workday. After saying goodby to his two daughters—Amy, who will be 3 next month, and Priscilla, born last January—he stared dolefully at three tall and bulky silver golf trophies that squatted on the floor. He had held them for a year and it was now time to return them to tournament sponsors.

"I'll crate these up and send them out tonight, I promise," he called to Miriam, who was in the kitchen stuffing breakfast dishes into the automatic dishwasher. He ignored the muffled but clearly dubious reply and slipped into the jacket of his neat, dark summer suit. The summer air smote him with a furnace blast as he stepped from the cool of the house into the front yard, but he hurried down the walk with the same crisp, jaunty stride that carries him around a golf course and slid under the wheel of his maroon Thunderbird. Beman enjoys driving this car, but he considers it less a luxury than a business asset. "Looking successful is going to help you be successful," he says with more conviction than originality. "When you drive up in a car like this people get the idea that you solid mean business." (Solid is a word Beman frequently tosses into sentences for emphasis. To be a business success, he says, you have to "solid like to sell.")

The picture of solid success, Beman was now headed toward his office in Arlington, Va., about 30 minutes by car. Here he and his 29-year-old partner, Bill Buppert, a longtime golfing companion, head up Beman & Buppert Associates, an insurance brokerage firm that handles business and industrial clients mainly in the East but sometimes in places as far distant as California. As he drove, slouched low in the bucket seat, his white straw hat tipped forward on his light-red hair, his fingertips toying casually, insolently with the steering wheel, Beman explained the workings of the company that he and Buppert had formed a year and a half before.

"We've worked out a unique program," he said. "Once we've made an agreement with a company, we go in and help service their existing employee-benefit program, acquaint the employees with their benefits under this program and then sit down individually with each person to work out just how much additional life insurance he needs. This is done through us on a purely individual, optional basis, but the main advantage to the employee is that he can have-his premiums deducted from his paycheck. We have found that better than one in four will take out a policy with us.

"Naturally, the company has to buy the idea before we can put it into effect, but our approach is a strictly informal one. We figure we have to go right to the top man, or the head operations man, anyway, and throw the idea at him. It solid has to click with him. If he buys the concept then the battle's half won. The sales stimulus now comes from the top down. Right? Right."

The two young men have been so successful at tossing their ideas at the top men that they expect to produce an estimated 5250,000 in new life-insurance premiums this year. At 50% to 60% in commissions, this amounts to at least $125,000 net, and does not include stock options that B. & B. frequently get. This figure would make them one of the major underwriters of personal life insurance in metropolitan Washington, an area that encompasses some 1,500 agents and general agents. They've had no offers, but the company's potential is so great that both say they wouldn't sell out now for even $1 million in cash.

Old high school friends may be startled by the figure, but using hindsight they could have guessed Deane Beman would do well. A skinny boy of medium height, Beman was something of a super-active rascal. "He was the type who'd always park in the teachers' parking lot and cut afternoon classes," recalls Miriam Beman, who started dating her husband at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. "When I'd meet him after school, he'd be surrounded by half a dozen glowering teachers. But he'd tell a funny story, they'd all laugh and he'd whiz right off. Then he'd drive to school the next day and park in the teachers' lot again."

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