It is five minutes
till show time and, suddenly, as if fire has broken out in the clubhouse, men
and women are streaming toward the practice tee. Miamians, it is now clear, do
not waste good drinking time watching warmup shots. Three hundred strong, they
fall in at the rear of the tee, their gaudy golfwear fusing to form a
semicircular wall of brilliant colors. His spirits restored, Hahn taps a
microphone hidden in his shirt to see that it is working and then launches into
his show, opening with a round of clinic-type tips for duffers.
"I used to be
a club professional out in California," he is saying. "I had a class of
ladies. I said to one of them, 'Thumb here, ma'am.' " Hahn's voice now
rises to a falsetto, the American housewife variety that has grated on the ears
of club pros the nation over.
" 'I like my
thumb where it is.'
" 'Yes, but
you have to have your thumb here.'
" 'I play
better with my thumb where I have it.'
" 'What did
you shoot today?'
" 'A hundred
and forty. But that's because I three-putted two greens.' "
The women in the
gallery titter—the nervous laughter of victims. The men laugh heartily, not
suspecting that they are about to get theirs. Hahn, equipped with a pliable
face that twists into every passion known to amateur golfers, makes a fortune
showing the duffer precisely what a tortured soul he is.
popular grip in use in the world today," Hahn now says, taking his stance
over a ball, "is the overlapping, or Vardon, grip. You hold back the little
finger of the right hand, overlap the forefinger of the left, close your right
palm over your left thumb, and you have it—the most miserable feeling you've
ever experienced." Poised to swing, Hahn is the duffer striving to remember
all he's been taught. "Keep the left arm straight," he mutters to
himself. The cartilage in his ribs threatens to rip as he struggles into his
backswing. "I'll keep it straight if it kills me," he growls. Hitting a
pop-fly drive that won't carry 100 yards, Hahn hops forward in alarm,
goggle-eyed with disbelief, his lips crying, "Ohhhh, no! Roll.
In due time
practically the entire spectrum of country-club life feels the tip of Hahn's
needle—from members who teach members ("the blind leading the blind")
to the hedonistic business executive "who leaves an air-conditioned office,
gets into an air-conditioned car and drives to an air-conditioned club to take
a steam bath." Hahn's grasp of commentary and satire is the appurtenance
that lifts his act a flight above those of other trick-shot artists, but it is
his trick shots, of course, that the Miamians have come to see. As he slips
into the second phase of his performance there is not a jaw in the gallery that
does not go slack.