In the process of
revamping the course the existing 17th was snatched out of sequence and made
the 18th hole for the Open. It was so honored because the green is situated in
a natural amphitheater that will hold 20,000 spectators plus television
impedimenta. Also, this 465-yard par-4 is what the golfing fraternity calls a
"representative tournament test." This means it is calculated to play
Old Clooie with a golf score. Among a variety of hazards, the pear-shaped 18th
green (see page 39) is guarded on a little better than three sides by a small
lake. Having already begun to anticipate the collision between this hole and
the game's best players with a certain sadistic glee, Dey, Jones, et al. were
aghast one day to see an 18-handicap golfer, one John McWilliams, top an
approach shot that rolled between the encircling bays of water right onto the
putting surface. Dey and Jones, on the spot, decreed that a 15-foot-wide
barrier of rough be erected across the skinny promontory that connects the
green to the fairway. Nobody was going to roll a ball onto their green in front
of God, NBC television and everybody. While Mr. McWilliams presumably will not
be in contention for the 1964 Open title, he can watch it with the knowledge
that he has had a good bit to do with who will be.
While there was a
certain amount of fun and agony to be had in getting the course ready, this
operation was essentially a technical sideshow for the Congressional members.
Tournament Chairman Murphy was more directly concerned with 1) getting the Open
players and crowds on and off the course as painlessly as possible and 2)
making enough money out of the proceedings so that the club could at least
break even on the small fortune it will lay out in direct expenses.
objectives unshakably in mind, he began to line up his "volunteer"
committees in the late spring and summer of 1962. Murphy does not have much of
the hail-fellow-well-met blarney popularly assigned to Irishmen but, at least
in regard to the Open, he compensates by being totally dedicated to getting his
"I got you
down for a job handling the police end of the thing. You don't know anything
about police? We're all going to learn. I'll be talking to you."
"Why am I on
the Police Committee?" shrugs Jim Bernhard, a Washington dentist.
"Because Frank Murphy asked me. He is a very, very difficult man to say no
Somewhat as 19th
century generals dropped in on foreign wars as official observers, Murphy and
his committeemen visited the 1962 Open at Pittsburgh's Oakmont Country Club.
Though some were temporarily subdued at the firsthand preview of what was in
store when zero hour would strike for them, the Congressional commanders did
bring back a rallying cry for their troops: "Beat Oakmont." Archivists
who deal in such matters have credited Oakmont with setting Open records with
62,300 total attendance, $355,000 in admissions and $625,000 in gross revenue
for the club.
Among those most
serious about beating Oakmont has been Jack Alfandre, brevetted admissions
chairman for the '64 Open. Alfandre, a builder and real-estate developer in
suburban Montgomery County, has been able to adapt some of the sales techniques
of his profession to his avocation of pushing Open tickets. A pre-Christmas
flyer is indicative of Alfandre's enthusiasm and style. "Friend...you are a
golfer. Ten to one most of your friends are golfers too, so what would be
easier than to give each of them an Admission Season Ticket to the '64 Open
Championship? It doesn't even matter if they are not golfers, no one can help
but enjoy the thrill and camaraderie of this great, once in a lifetime,
outstanding Sporting spectacle."
"We have a
great product. I mean you can't top the Open, but to sell anything you have to
have exposure," says Alfandre, analyzing his operations. "Some of our
members are big radio personalities in this area—disc jockeys—and that is a
break. Those boys have really plugged the Open. I mean, they have really sold
Backing up the
deejays, Alfandre's committee mailed out 80,000 sales letters to other clubs,
plastered the Middle Atlantic area with posters, and sent Wiffy Cox and other
representatives around to a series of banquets, luncheons and sports gatherings
to beat the drums for the Open. By the end of April, Congressional had taken in
$200,000 in advance admissions, which put it well ahead of Oakmont at the same
stage in the ticket game.
Of all the
Congressional chairmen, Jim Shinkoff, a Washington representative for an
aerospace supplier (and previously a University of Illinois footballer and
shortstop for the Jersey City Giants), has approached his assignment in the
most military manner, and with good reason. His job is the gallery. During the
winter he stockpiled mobile communication equipment and recruited and drilled
the 400 marshals who will serve as Congressional's counterinsurgency force.
During Open week, Shinkoff will operate from a command post in Congressional's
tennis shop and will be ready for any sort of desperate maneuver on the part of
the crowd. However, his pretournament work has been relatively easy. Even
though each of the marshals will pay his way into the Open ("this town is
nuts about golf"), Shinkoff's problem has been that of diplomatically
turning down would-be marshals rather than recruiting enough of them. "We
have a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense taking the week off to help us," he
says. "An active-duty Navy captain is going to leave his ship in Boston and
fly down. The military is nuts about golf. Those Army and Navy boys are going
to make good marshals. I mean, your average colonel or commander or whatever
knows how to handle himself with a crowd." As additional help, the USGA has
10 miles of rope that it stakes out, giving Shinkoff's marshals something to
keep the crowd behind. "Right after the Open we ship the rope to the club
that will need it the next year," says Hannigan. "Collect."