The professional golf tour has become so lucrative that the player who stubs his toe and skips just a routine event may be losing $20,000 in potential income. Last year the prize-money total on the U.S. tour came to $3.6 million, this year it will be more than $4 million, and next year, with the announcement last week that two more rich purses are being added to the calendar, a season's pot of about $5 million seems assured. This is almost three times the amount offered just four years ago. The new entries are the $200,000 Westchester Classic (sponsored by the United Hospital Fund of Port Chester, N.Y.) and the Alcan Golfer of the Year Championship (sponsored by Aluminium Ltd.), at which 12 pros off the U.S. tour will qualify to play with five British pros at St. Andrews, Scotland for a first prize of $55,000.
Is this a permanent trend or just a bull market that is bound to turn bearish? As we see it, the fact that big business and big charities are eager sponsors means that the boom has only begun.
"I would not be surprised to see a $500,000 tour event in the near future," says Jack Tuthill, the PGA's tournament supervisor.
Fathers with an eye toward comfortable retirement had better slip a wedge and a putter into junior's crib along with the traditional baseball and football.
THE CUP CAPER
When a thief soft-shoed into London's Central Hall last week and walked out with the 12-inch-high, solid-gold Jules Rimet World Cup trophy—valued at about $8,400 for its gold content alone and insured for $84,000, but worth a fortune to the soccer-mad countries—there was an international furor. Brazilians, with a chance to retire the trophy and make it their own with a third straight victory, were mad enough to spit coffee beans.
Ottorino Barassi, vice-president of the Italian Soccer Federation, was particularly dismayed because throughout World War II he had kept the cup out of the hands of military authorities who wished to confiscate it, by constantly changing its hiding place.
By early this week, however, the British had muddled through to a successful conclusion. First, a 47-year-old London dock laborer was arrested and charged with the theft, after a $42,000 ransom note had been received by soccer officials. Then, oh happy day, a mongrel dog named Pickles sniffed out the trophy from its hiding place in the garden of a house in a South London suburb.
THE DEATH ON THE EIGER
The somber, 13,000-foot-high Eiger in Switzerland represents the same challenge to alpinists that Indianapolis offers to auto racers. Last week, for the first time in the Eiger's history, its sheer, 5,800-foot North Wall (SI, Oct. 1, et seq., 1962) was successfully scaled by what is known as a direttissima—a perpendicular assault. The ascent was not without bitter repercussions, for John Harlin, an American climber, tragically lost his life in what Swiss alpinists have termed a scandalous commercial venture.