Which is just what happened. Schroeder rushed back to his room and hauled in a small shark.
Middle-aged golfers with backaches, take heart. Consider Ray Palmer, a 55-year-old Michigan industrialist who in the early 1950s was a scratch golfer and reached the quarterfinals of both the 1953 U.S. Amateur and Western Amateur, thereby earning himself a bid to the Masters, where he played (nervously and badly) in 1954.
But his back was giving him all kinds of agony, and the following year he had to give up the game completely when doctors discovered calcium deposits in his spine.
For the next eight years Palmer stuck to a rigid diet while dreaming of hitting 250-yard drives down the middle and sinking 40-foot putts. Finally, when spring arrived in 1963, he felt well enough to go out on the practice tee and try again.
"I played horrible," he now recalls, "but at least the back felt better."
Then, after a couple of years, the old shots began to fly off his club with greater consistency. This summer, with his handicap back to scratch, Ray Palmer at age 55 was eligible for a go at the USGA Seniors, held at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
Battling a stiff northwester with gusts up to 40 mph, he shot a 74-79 in qualifying rounds to share the medal with two others. For the next four days he played five rounds of superb golf for a man with a bad back. Through a torrent of rain and wind in the semifinals, he shot a 72, two over par, on one of the toughest courses in the U.S. and on a sunny, windy Saturday morning, he met Walter Bronson of Oak Brook, Ill. in the finals. Palmer finished Bronson off 3 and 2 with a burst of birdies in the final holes.
Tall, thin Ray Palmer was overcome with emotion as they handed him the trophy.
"After 45 years at this game," he sighed, "I finally won something."