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THE AMATEUR HOUR IN PRO SPORTS
Bil Gilbert
June 15, 1964
Professional golfers will make the news and money at next week's U.S. Open, but only because a most nonprofessional group of club members organized everything from police-dog patrols to 'modes of dress'
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June 15, 1964

The Amateur Hour In Pro Sports

Professional golfers will make the news and money at next week's U.S. Open, but only because a most nonprofessional group of club members organized everything from police-dog patrols to 'modes of dress'

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The hard core of Shinkoff's troops will be made up of volunteers from 19 Washington-area golf clubs, each of which will, alone or with allies, marshal one hole. Additionally, Shinkoff will hold back 60 or so marshals for emergencies. This mobile reserve is recruited from among Congressional members and the Washington citizenry at large. "Everybody has a brother or a client or a patient that wants in," says Shinkoff. "I've had some touchy PR problems. Take the Washington police department. I know a lot of boys on the force. I get a call. They want to come out, but you know what they make on the force isn't much. All right. We decide we will let 18 a day in free if they come in uniform. They won't be on duty, but those blue uniforms are not going to do any harm."

Copwise, even without Shinkoff's 18 freebees, the '64 Open will be in good shape. "It is extremely difficult to predict what may happen when you get thousands of people together in one place," says Tom Wilson, a soft-spoken attorney who heads the hard-sounding Security Committee. "So we are going to be prepared for almost anything." Outside Congressional's grounds—which are actually in Maryland—a good share of the State of Maryland's and Montgomery County's finest will be deployed on foot, and in motorcycles, squad cars and helicopters, contending with traffic snarls. The principal access to the club is provided by River Road, which at this point is a countrified two-lane highway. Traffic soothsayers estimate that 500 cars an hour can pass a given point on River Road. Rudimentary mathematics suggests that the best bet for getting to the Open in one day is to take one of the buses that will be shuttling back and forth between Congressional and various points in suburban and metropolitan Washington.

Inside the grounds, Wilson has provided for a minimum of 50 hired detectives to guard gates, money and property. Plainclothes and pickpocket squads will circulate through the crowds to discourage free-lance concessionaires. Pre-tournament vandalism has also been of concern, since tearing up golf courses is fast becoming as popular a suburban sport as throwing cherry bombs at churches. On the eve of both the 1963 U.S. Open at Brookline and the 1964 Los Angeles Open some greens were carved up, and in one case a dead snake was deposited in a flag cup. Congressional itself has one green that still shows scars from the night that vandals drove a car through a locked fence gate and then round and round on the putting surface. Even though Congressional's grounds are enclosed with four miles of six-foot-high fence, Wilson reflected on the technical brilliance of modern hipsters and decided he was not satisfied with security arrangements. He signed up the Montgomery County K-9 Corps unit to mount a nighttime watch on the ground from May through the Open week. How many dogs? "Let us say numerous dogs," parries Wilson, with a lawyer's caution. "That will discourage anyone who might want to go out and count them at night."

The medical behavior of the Open crowds is expected to be more predictable. Some people are bound to get sick or hurt. At Brookline in 1963 some 350 members of the audience required medical attention. With this past performance to guide him, plus the estimate that this year's crowd will be larger, Dr. Richard Sullivan, the first-aid chairman, has collected 90 nurses and first-aiders, four first-aid tents, a treatment and communications tent, ambulances and a resuscitation truck. There will be two physicians on duty at the Open, and 30 more will be available for emergencies or to take calls from players or out-of-town spectators. "We're ready," says Sullivan. "Heart attacks, foreign bodies in the eye (up to the size of a golf ball), sunstroke, getting tramped on. We've even got an obstetrician on call. You never can tell."

Providing a medical-referral register is only one of the services that the club has arranged for the touring players and their families. Rooms have been set aside in Washington hotels, and cars driven by Congressional volunteers will pick up the players and take them to and from the club. Even baby-sitters for pros traveling with their children have been stockpiled.

"It's all very nice," says Wiffy Cox, who, among other things, has acted as the club's adviser on the care and feeding of golf professionals. "But it is a lot different than the old days." Cox is a veteran of the tour in the '20s and '30s and was on the 1931 Ryder Cup team. "When I played in the first Open that was ever held in Washington, I came into town, found myself a room, picked up my clubs and rode out to the course on a trolley car. If I had lost my way it would have been my tough luck. I am not knocking these modern arrangements. Very nice, and the boys will appreciate it all. It is just different."

While most of what has been done for the 1964 Open had to be done, right down to settling what soft drink the concession stands would sell ( Pepsi bubbled past Coke after some tense competition), there are certain frills done just for dash. "License plates," says Frank Hannigan. "In '58 at Tulsa they put out the first U.S. Open license plates. Now there are full-size license plates in solid plastic. This year we were asked what the specifications are for the Open plates. None. We don't care whether they have plates or not, but each of the clubs likes to do everything up bigger and better than the ones before."

In the matter of uniforms, which first appeared at Cherry Hills in 1960, Congressional seems to have gone about as far as you can go, so far in fact that the '64 uniforms may be remembered after the tournament is forgotten. Congressional will outfit, from their lion hunters' helmets to Hush Puppies shoes, all of the officials, messengers, scorers and caddies in what might be called shocking-red, white and blue uniforms. Only at Congressional they do not say uniforms—they say "modes of dress." "Uniform sounds so inelegant," says Edith Battles, herself an extremely elegant lady who is largely responsible for both the modes of dress and the terminology. Mrs. Battles, wife of the former NFL halfback, Cliff Battles, is the fashion coordinator of Woodward & Lothrop, a Washington department store. (Cliff has the comparatively simple job of rounding up caddies for the Open. "No problem, except discouraging the people who want Junior to caddie for Arnold Palmer. We're using only regulars, from Congressional and other clubs.")

"Since so many people are going to see our Open, Mr. Murphy and the committee decided we should have something really chic for the mode of dress," explains the chic, chatty Mrs. Battles. "Fashion-wise, the only difficulty was that they decided our colors should match the stationery they had already ordered. Isn't that just like men, picking the stationery and then the mode of dress. But we did our best."

Mrs. Battles' best was considerable. Starting with her 3,000 yards of "Du Pont stretch fabric by Klopman," she dickered with various cloak-and-suiters for such resplendent items as "bright-red blazers with gold buttons, stretch navy blue slacks, Mr. Golf shirts in red" for the men, and "bright-navy A-line skirts, crisp white shirts, bright-red sleeveless easy jerkins" for the ladies. "With 955 red, white and blue outfits brightening up the golf course, the Congressional Country Club will really make fashion headlines," Mrs. Battles predicts. It already has.

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