The senior Marr introduced Dave to golf gradually, and gave him the foundation for one of the few classic swings still to be found among the tournament players. "I have a picture at home," Dave says, "showing me hitting a golf ball when I was 12 or 13, and the swing looks about the same as it does now. I'm still making the same mistakes."
When Dave was 14 and the Marr family had just moved back to Houston from Beaumont, Dave Marr Sr. died suddenly. That left Mrs. Marr with four children to support, of whom Dave was the eldest. He continued at St. Thomas parochial high school, but he also went to work for Robie Williams, an old friend of the Marrs, who was the pro at Memorial Park municipal golf course. Dave did all the odd jobs there are around a pro shop, including sweeping out at night. Williams kept Dave in clubs and balls, and saw to it that he had sufficient opportunity to play.
Marr was a good enough student at high school and a good enough golfer at Memorial Park to get a scholarship to Rice Institute at the age of 16. He kept it for only a year, and then the University of Houston, which was just beginning to get into big-time collegiate athletics, lured him away for its golf team. "I didn't really go to college seriously there," Marr says. "I just horsed around and played golf for a year and a half. But things were getting tough for my mother, who was working as a waitress at a Howard Johnson's, so I quit school and got a regular job."
By the time he was 19, Marr had decided to turn pro. One night at dinner during a Florida tournament he met Claude Harmon, the pro at the Seminole Golf Club in Palm Beach and at Winged Foot Golf Club near New York. A few days later Harmon offered him a job as an assistant to replace Mike Souchak, who was going out on the tour.
Harmon and his wife, Alice, took the rough edges off the boy from Memorial Park, just as they had done for so many other assistants who went on to score big on the tour or to take lucrative club jobs. Marr learned his lessons well. Right after he won the PGA one of the first things he wanted to do was appear at the Harmons' house in a blue suit and Argyle socks, an ensemble that Alice Harmon had persuaded him to abandon shortly after she began polishing him up. Today, Dave's clothes are sometimes described by reporters as Madison Avenue. Actually, they are more like modified Princeton—tastefully reserved, but with just a hint of dash.
It was as a Harmon assistant that Marr really learned his craft. Even today, it is to Harmon that he turns for advice and assistance, and it was the Harmons who took charge of the wedding at Palm Springs, Calif, in 1960 when Marr married pretty Susan Davidson, then a minor backstage functionary working on a Victor Borge spectacular.
Susan was soon pregnant. At Portland, Ore. in 1960, she bore their first child, Elizabeth. David III followed a year later. When Dave left home to play in the PGA last month, Susan was nearly two weeks overdue with a third child. On Saturday, the third day of the tournament, Marr blew a two-foot putt and the lead on the 18th green in front of a few million TV viewers, including Susan. "If she didn't have the baby then," he said in the press tent afterward, "I guess she'll never have it." The next afternoon on the 18th green and again in front of TV, Dave sank the putt that won the championship. That was all Susan had been waiting for. A son, Anthony, was born 3� hours later.
After a promising start early this year, Marr began missing far too many short putts. When he failed to make the cut at the Masters his game went into a slump. The money was still coming in from all those ancillary benefits of pro golf, such as the Jantzen International Sports Club, one of the most rewarding endorsements an athlete can make. The only golfer in a group that included Gifford, Paul Hornung, Bobby Hull, Bob Cousy and Jerry West, Marr at least felt like a champion. He and Susan bought a new $40,000 house in the New York suburb of Larchmont, and Dave was enjoying his popularity in the TV-sports set that hangs out at Manuche's, Toots Shor's, and Eddie Condon's.
When Dave missed the cut at the U.S. Open in St. Louis, it was time to think seriously about golf. "I wish you could do something about David's attitude," Susan Marr said to Claude Harmon one evening while Dave was in Toronto playing in the Canadian Open. "He doesn't believe he can win anymore."
Trips with kings