straight down the middle, more than 200 yards—rather a difficult
accomplishment, because he has teed off while resting on both knees. "A
golf club travels 140 miles an hour in the downswing," he points out,
leading up to the rhetorical question: Isn't it a waste of time to pick the
grass clean of twigs and otherwise clean up around the ball lest the smallest
foreign object create havoc with one's swing? He hits another picturesque
drive, after having covered his ball with the classified section of the morning
paper, blasting unerringly through Male Help Wanted.
Hahn's gallery there is bound to be a golfer who is convinced that his club pro
has saddled him with five strokes by fitting him with shafts that are a smidgen
too long. What, then, is Hahn up to now? He has that 6' 1" driver in his
hands. He spreads his feet wide, like a hammer thrower, and whirls the monster
club overhead—and then clubs the ball a distance of 300 yards, where it comes
to rest in the center of the fairway. "Oh, that straight ball," he
sighs with mock disgust. "I can't get rid of it—been fighting it for
weeks." By the time Hahn's act is finished he has exposed just about every
plausible excuse that man has invented for lousing up a golf shot.
frailties are so manifest on a golf course," he later declares, having
sprawled out in a contour chair in the den of his townhouse. Not exactly
dressed for philosophy, Hahn wears a one-piece parachutist's jump suit made of
scarlet velour, a polka-dot ascot at his throat. "People think the few good
shots they hit are indicative of their game and the many poor ones are bad
luck," he says. "I see this. I observe it constantly. And that's
exactly where I get the satire for my show."
Hahn may not make
as much money as Arnold Palmer (which is to say, the twin-engine Piper Comanche
he pilots from exhibition to exhibition is not Palmer's Jet Commander), yet,
while never leaving the tee, he has found a way to gross six figures annually
from golf, remaining serenely free of the paranoia, ulcers and clammy palms
that afflict the tournament pros. At country clubs and driving ranges
spectators pay up to $5 a head to see his act, and the house usually clears a
worthwhile profit after paying his fee. Besides getting $1,000 for an outdoor
exhibition, Hahn charges $500 to perform indoors (say, at a sports equipment
show), where he uses a net to catch his shots. He has played to as many as
8,000 spectators massed on a hillside at the Masters and has commanded his
customary fee when entertaining as few as 200 business executives at
conventions. For an additional $500, Hahn will stick around to deliver an
after-dinner talk. Years ago he was an unknown golfer on the pro tour. His
total winnings were, he admits, "not enough to mark my ball." Today, 17
years and 17 Cadillacs since he became a trick-shot artist, his only problem is
too much business. His outdoor price used to be $500, but he doubled it this
year to discourage bookings. It hasn't discouraged them at all.
Although a total
of 16 trick-shot artists crisscross the country today, Hahn is the only one
clearly possessing greater prestige than your country club's head-waiter. Many
of them pass the hat. Some in the business have traveled under gamy
monikers—for example, Count Yogi and Mysterious Montague—and others have been
known to set up local yokels for a fast hustle. Hahn, on the other hand, holds
Class A membership in the PGA and frequently is invited to preside over
seminars at sectional meetings of club pros. He performs quiet acts of
generosity toward needy caddies and young golfers. Conscious of the fact that
trick-shot artists are apt to be lumped into a category with oil-stock salesmen
and gypsy fortune tellers, Hahn rarely wagers more than a $1 nassau with
friends, and he gambles with strangers only when goaded—as he was by Doug
Sanders one long-ago day at Daytona Beach.
On that occasion
Hahn was about to tee off with his brother, Dr. Stanley Hahn, one of two
Baptist ministers in the family, when two members of the University of Florida
golf team—Sanders was one, and future tournament pro Dave Ragan was the
other—recognized him. They asked to join the round. "Glad to have you,"
"How about a
little wager between you and me?" Sanders said to Hahn.
not, son, I wouldn't feel right if I took your money."
on," Sanders persisted. "Just a little friendly action to make things
I'll bet you a dollar."