SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
April 04, 1966
Arnold Palmer flitting around in his twin-booster, partly deductible rocket ship PGA One, and Billy Casper eating baked leopards' feet and sea-lentil casserole for all those allergies, and Gary Player, the Lord improving his lies, always suiting out in bondage black—you call this colorful? You like it that the pros play the same event every week, a $500,000 Lucky Desert Cajun, everybody getting rich by finishing a nervy 29th? It doesn't bother you that Jack Nicklaus isn't there because he is limiting his play to five tournaments a year—the Grand Slam plus one to be announced—and is off in Addis Ababa filming a TV series? You chuckle and nudge your friends, do you, when Al Besselink grins at a lady scorer and hollers, "Say, bey-bah, old Al done got hisself a birdie"? You wink all around when you see that full parade of snug, flowered bell-bottoms foraging after Doug Sanders? And it really swings, does it, upstairs in the cocktail lounge when Lionel Hebert works his handicap down from 8 to 6 on the trumpet? Say, bey-bah, you know something? If you think the tour is fun now, you would have gone right out of your Spalding Dot back in the Thirties.
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April 04, 1966

It Was Fun Time In The Thirties

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"But Hagen's my idol. I've wanted to play golf with him all my life."


"But I'm leading the tournament."

"We heard about it."

Nelson practice-swung and paced, his pleated trousers ballooning in the Niagara breeze like the Graf Zeppelin, his fat-bottomed tie whipping past the curled-up collar tips of his well-starched $1.19 shirt and on around his neck. In manner of apparel you could scarcely tell a young pro golfer from the sneak who came around every week to threaten you for the 15� you owed on the life insurance.

Fidget, pace, putt, heave went Nelson until, thanks a lot, two hours later along came Hagen in his white-on-white silk shirt, with his gold cuff links and more oil on his hair than they were pumping out of the East Texas fields.

"Hi, boy," he said.

"It's—it's sure a real big honor," said Nelson in a trance, and he went out and shot a 42 on the front nine.

But Nelson's disaster was not total. His fast, upright swing got grooved once again and brought him back in 35 for a 77, second place and a cash prize of $600.

Still, the ordeal wasn't over. "Louise," Byron recalls saying to his young wife, "we've got to hide this money before we hit the road. What if we get robbed? Since we're rich, we're bound to. And if we hide it maybe they won't get it all." So fifty went in the glove compartment, a hundred under the seat, a hundred in a Kleenex box, a hundred in the purse with the embroidery—the best pal a golf wife ever had. And you can probably guess that later on at the tourist court the Nelsons almost never found it all.

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