We do not offer it as a sign of unusual dedication to duty—after all, he was trying to win $50,000 at the same time—but one of our writers was attacked by bees in South Africa last week. The victim, as you may have guessed, was regular contributor Jack Nicklaus, who on page 48 tells you what to worry about on the first tee, a list to which you may now add bees. Nicklaus was playing in a big-money exhibition series at Pretoria with Gary Player when both golfers and gallery were stung. A kind woman daubed wet mud on the smarting Nicklaus forehead to ease the pain. "Are you sure this will work, lady?" Nicklaus asked. It did, which makes it the day's best golf tip.
But the anguish of our man Nicklaus turns out to be just one of the many reminders around here that at last it is the first of March, snow is getting mushy on the fairways and a great number of our readers in northern climes are surely joining me in a case of the got-to-get-golfing sweats. Perhaps it will ease the waiting—or maybe just tempt you more—if you are told what has been happening here the last few days concerning golf stories that we will be offering you soon.
The bees that stung Nicklaus missed a chance at our writer John Underwood, but by only one day. He had just left South Africa after spending two weeks with Gary Player, whom he found arranging a native war dance and stocking a pond on his farm with trout in anticipation of the Nicklaus visit. Underwood's story on Player at home is coming soon, and even before that we will present Player's own story—an instructional advising you not to try to hit the ball like Nicklaus.
Meanwhile, the other afternoon I found Managing Editor Andre Laguerre walking the hall wearing the famous green coat of a Masters champion. We needed the coat for the forthcoming Masters preview cover, and a provocative preview it will be, I promise you. Masters officials hesitated, but loaned us the coat after mentioning that never before had such a garment left Augusta, except in the hands of a club member or a Masters champion. The one they sent us, by the way, would fit Nicklaus, which is something for hunch bettors to think about. We have fondled the coat and, regretfully, returned it.
Almost as the coat was going down one hall, Ken Venturi was coming up another to look at four-foot-long scale models of some of his favorite golf holes at San Francisco's Olympic Country Club. Sitting down like a general at a war table, Venturi explained the complex strategy that each hole demanded, and his analysis will be part of our U.S. Open preview this June.
Then there is the story Dan Jenkins is writing about the glory days when pro golf was played by the nonaffluent society, back when Jimmy Demaret lost his car shooting pool in Juarez and had to ride a freight to the L.A. Open; and another by George Plimpton, who will tell you what happened when we sent him to play on the tour for three weeks (yes, he did hit a ball into a Palm Springs swimming pool); and a report on how it feels to play in the U.S. Open if you are a part-time druggist from Indiana; and.... But that's enough for now. Time to close the door and get to work. Thank goodness there is enough room in my office to take a full backswing.