In rooms 107, 108, 109, and in several other apartments of the Seal Rock Inn in San Francisco, conditions were on the cramped side a fortnight ago. One look at its glassy fa�ade and redwood trimming would tell you that the Seal Rock is another of the thousands of modern, aseptic motels that are as frequent as empty beer cans along the highways of the South and West, and it is in just such places that the professional golfers and their families like to bed down when their tour hits town. Because the Seal Rock is only a skip and a jump from Harding Park, where the $50,000 Lucky International Open was being contested for four days, its first-floor patio suddenly took on the look of a nursery school playground.
Along the professional golfing trail, which winds its way across the country several times during the course of the year, some 30 to 40 itinerant families with children ranging anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 years try to scratch a living with Daddy's golf clubs. "We figure," says blonde, 24-year-old Susan Marr, whose husband David won $18,408.81 in 36 weeks of touring last year, "that if we can get by on $200 to $250 we've had a good week. That means paying for doctors, entrance fees, caddies, rooms, meals, gas, laundry—everything. David says if you can't live as well as you do at home, you shouldn't be out here."
Living near the Marrs during the Lucky were the Johnny Potts and the Paul Harneys. Down the road a stretch at the Pacifica Motel were the Tommy Jacobses, the Mason Rudolphs, the Don Whitts, the Bert Weavers, the Huston LaClairs and the Gay Brewers. These and other couples with small children like the Don Fairfields, the Gary Players and the Howie Johnsons often make a point of booking into the same motel, not just for the mutual companionship but also for the convenience of being close to others with the same problems.
Like bedouins and gypsies and the folk of other traveling civilizations, the touring golfers have customs, habits—even an argot—that set them apart from the people through whose communities they pass in their endless trek. "I needed a permanent last week," Maryrose Pott was saying the other day, "so I traded Iris Fairfield a walk for a beauty parlor." What she meant was that she looked after little Jeff Fairfield so that Iris Fairfield could follow her husband around the golf course, and in exchange Iris looked after little Jay Pott (John Pott Jr.) while Maryrose was at the hairdresser.
Unlike more permanent American communities, there are virtually no socioeconomic strata in the world of the touring pros. Gary Player, who won nearly $70,000 last year, lived on just about the same level as Tommy Jacobs, who won less than $13,000. The only noticeable difference was that the Players always had to hire a second motel room because they had an English nanny traveling with them to look after their two babies.
Even though Arnold Palmer is the reigning tycoon of the tour these days, with an income 30 times more than that of the average pro, he lives like all the other young marrieds when his wife, Winnie, is along. Winnie can't travel full time anymore, however. Like the Lionel Heberts, the Doug Fords, the Art Walls, the Gene Littlers and many more of the veterans, the Palmers have a child of school age. The mothers all must stay home except during school vacations.
"I'll never forget the first time I saw Winnie Palmer," Maryrose Pott was reminiscing recently. "She was pregnant and feeding a child in a motel restaurant, and I wondered whether that's what my life was going to be like. That's the way it turned out, of course, and I love it. I don't think any of us would be really happy just being ordinary housewives. I guess the guys think of that before they ask us to marry them."
How they met
Alongside the saga of Dave and Susan Marr, the weekly TV travails of Dobie Gillis and his beatnik pal Maynard are as uneventful as an afternoon nap. Back in 1958, when they first met, Dave was a young teaching pro at the Rockaway Hunting Club just outside New York City and Susan was working at NBC as secretary to Pat Harrington Jr., the television comic who was then appearing occasionally on The Jack Paar Show. Harrington frequently played golf with Marr and decided that the two young people should meet, although Susan didn't know a tee from a Broadway subway. But that's the way it is with most golfers' wives; among them, only Joan Ragan, Vivienne Player and Ann Stranahan have ever given par a serious tussle.
After nearly two years of courting around New York, Dave left Susan to join the tour in California. Susan by then was an associate producer, and she followed Dave west to work in a Victor Borge spectacular. Two years ago this week they were married in Palm Springs, where the tour was making a station stop. "There wasn't much time," Susan recalls, "so I had to propose to David before they moved on."