BLACK CATS, 12TH PLACE AND THE TWIST
The weather in Chicago was beautiful. Compared to Pebble Beach, it was like summertime, and if Barbara and I were not going to have such a busy two days it would have been ideal weather to get in some golf. Our decorator, Mrs. Aileen Irvin, was not due in the hotel until later in the day, but there was plenty to do beforehand. I went to the offices of Brunswick-MacGregor to bring myself up to date on some final changes I wanted to see made on the MacGregor clubs that are carrying my name. Barb and I also looked at some Brunswick snooker tables. Practically every house that has a game room these days has a pool table. Ours is going to have snooker. It's a more challenging game, much tougher to become good at than pool. We picked out a table and then went back to the hotel to wait for Mrs. Irvin. Starting at 12:30 p.m. we called the desk every half hour to find out if she'd checked in. No, they assured us each time, not yet. We finally got through to her at 3 p.m. She'd been waiting in her room since 1 p.m., wondering where we were and why we hadn't called. Imagine coming 2,000 miles just to sit in a hotel room for an afternoon. I was pretty hot.
We rushed over to the Merchandise Mart. Our house will be a one-story ranch. I guess you might call it California Traditional. Floor space will be more than 5,000 square feet. That takes a lot of furniture. We went through the showrooms looking at stuff and making notes, then came back to the hotel.
There was a message to call Bill Graffis. He is with Kenyon & Eckhardt, the advertising agency that handles Whirlpool, a company I do promotion work for. I attended their sales meeting in New Orleans last December and will play an exhibition later this year with winners of their sales contest. Graffis took us all to dinner at The Tavern Club. An art exhibit for a charity was being held. There were about 30 paintings on the walls, and we saw a couple we liked, one of them a desert scene of cactus and mountains. We were disappointed to learn that it had already been sold. Luckily, the artist was also having dinner at The Tavern Club. His name is Alexander Maley; he is the chairman of a chemical company, Pelron Corp., and paints as a hobby. Could he duplicate the painting? No, but he could do something else. One of his, a floral scene, was unsold, and he took it down off the wall and handed it to me. "You've admired my painting and I've always admired your golf," he said. "So please accept this as a gift from me." I did accept, with pleasure.
Tuesday, January 21, my 24th birthday. It was spent walking and spending. We began a day-long survey of the Merchandise Mart at 9 a.m. As we went through the showrooms we either ordered on the spot or Mrs. Irvin made a note to order through the catalog. We met Bill Graffis for lunch at the Well of the Sea in the Sherman House, just as a small birthday celebration, so to speak. One company at the Mart had not let us in the showroom because it was open only to dealers, but Graffis called up a Mart executive and he sent a pass right over. By the end of the day we had ordered for two bedrooms, all the rugs, the kitchen floor, the living room, dining room and family room. Bad case of museum feet, but we rushed back to the hotel, packed, checked out and hurried to the airport. Barb got a 6:50 flight to Columbus, and I took a 6:45 to San Francisco.
It was raining again as the plane came into San Francisco. I had a reservation at the Fairmont Hotel but decided that I didn't care to pay $31 a day and swung by the Jack Tar Hotel to see if any rooms were available there. Gardner Dickinson, Jack Burke and Lionel Hebert were in the lobby when I came in around 10 o'clock, and they said the hotel had saved rooms for the golfers. They were right. Got a small room with twin beds for $10 a night. Already I was $21 a day ahead of the game.
The next day I played in the pretournament pro-am with an old friend, Johnny Swanson, a former 14-letter athlete at the University of San Francisco who now owns two bowling alleys in the city. I had met Swanson when I played in the U.S. Amateur here in 1958. He has always been very helpful and generous to me and to friends of mine who have come out here.
As we teed off I couldn't help but recall how many three-putt greens I had here last year. I three-putted the first green, and thought, "Oh, no. Here we go again." On the fourth hole, a par-5, I topped my second shot, then pushed my third to the right of the green and made a bogey. I heard two spectators talking. "Let's pick up Arnie and watch a real golfer," one said. "Yeah, this guy isn't showing me nothing," said the other. I wasn't showing me much, either. On the fifth tee Swanson, trying to be nice, asked: "Say, pro, do you always move your head a couple of feet when you swing?" Actually, it was a good question. I had been swaying forward during my swing a lot, but it was not my only problem by any means.
On the 7th hole both John and I hit our approaches to about eight feet from the hole. "I'll do you or don't you for lunch," John said. I made my putt and he missed. "If you make a 2 on the next hole I'll buy you a filet," John said. I hit a two-iron six feet from the hole. "All you pros are the same," said John. "You can only play when you're hungry." Then I missed the putt. I had a hamburger for lunch.
I didn't sleep well that night, but had to get up early because my first-round tee-off time was 8:04 a.m. I met Ray Floyd and Phil Rodgers in the lobby, and we went across the street for breakfast, then drove out to the course in the Lincoln Continental that Lincoln-Mercury supplied to me and some of the other golfers. Cold enough for three sweaters and a pair of rain pants. I played a lousy round. Hitting the ball better than I had at Pebble Beach, but not thinking quite as well. Shot a 74 that should have been a 70 or 71, which would have given me at least a shot at the lead. So I went to the practice tee for a two-hour session. My alignment was a mess. I had the club face aiming to the right, my body and feet aimed to the left. My divot was going to the left of the target, the ball to the right. Awful. Finally got myself lined up and hitting well, and got back the 30 yards I had lost in distance.