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On the practice tee some 50 yards from the clubhouse of the Country Club of Miami, Paul Hahn steps lightly from his golf cart, the picture of a man who has licked life's biggest challenge—how to succeed without really working. Although he is 49, he is trim at the waist. His hair is dark and wavy, his skin tanned and slightly creased by good years. His glittering smile is the perfect touch to the sort of face Hollywood liked on its leading men in the 1930s.
From his wardrobe this day Hahn had chosen a spectrum of green clothing. none of which he had to pay for. His apple-green shirt, his moss-green pullover sweater and his olive slacks are by DiFini. His green-and-white alligators are by Etonic, and his glove is by Par-Mate. He plays a very professional brand of golf, ranging three strokes either side of par, but only for recreation. His name appears nowhere in the pro tournament tee-off times, let alone on the list of money-winners, yet DiFini, Etonic and Par-Mate are delighted to pay him to parade their apparel on the world's golf courses. Dunlop of Buffalo, manufacturer of golf equipment, has slapped its name on his bag, and P. Ballantine & Sons has attached its trademark as a reminder that Paul Hahn, winner of no tournaments, drinks Ballantine ale.
Hahn is, as his promotional flyers proclaim, "the Wizard of Clubs"—the king of trick-shot artists. His one-hour act, for which he charges $1,000, has "thrilled, amazed and amused millions all over the world," just as the pamphlets say. For example, with a five-iron in each hand he can wade through a horizontal row of 10 balls, ambidextrously attacking them with both clubs in a whirling blur of motion, missing not one. Or he can hit two balls simultaneously, one a hook and the other a slice.
"I've always been inclined to legerdemain," Hahn notes in his often-elegant fashion. "I never throw a piece of paper directly at a wastebasket. I bank it off the wall. That's my nature."
On the practice tee, now, he removes a portable phonograph and a loudspeaker from his cart, setting them on the ground and plugging them into the cart's battery. The tee is deserted, as it usually is when Hahn arrives to warm up for his show, but he sustains his supply of cheer by dropping a lilting Dean Martin ballad onto his record player. The music flows from the amplifier across to the clubhouse, where a heavy midafternoon crowd of Sunday golfers is giving gin and tonic a brisk play. Two small boys, drawn by the music, appear on the practice tee. Silently they watch Hahn unload a preposterous red golf bag unlike any in the world—a potbellied giant that, with its 20 clubs, weighs 80 pounds. Hahn begins to warm up with an iron, jiggling his hips in rhythm with the music. "Think hook!" he commands himself, grinning, and he curls a lazy hook into the distance. "Think slice!" he says. His ball slices across the blue Miami sky.
Clearly, some of the clubs in Hahn's bag are for clowning. A driver, covered by a striped stocking with a huge red tassel at the top, stands exactly as tall as Hahn—6' 1". A rubber hose, with a driver head at one end, dangles over the rim of the bag. Hahn's arsenal is not quite as bizarre, however, as was once pictured on the Dutch island of Curaçao by a sportswriter whose understanding of golfing English was a trifle too literal. "Hahn hits the ball 200 yards," the Dutchman told his readers, "with a rubber hose that has the head of a chauffeur attached."
In Miami this day Hahn is going to perform without a fee. Having recently-moved with his wife Bobbie into a three-story townhouse apartment overlooking the 18th green of the Country Club of Miami's East Course, he thoughtfully has invited the club's members and Dunlop's Miami sales force to a 4 o'clock private viewing of his act. Yet he has been warming up for 30 minutes now, spraying the fairway with long drives and elegant fades, and his gallery consists of the two small boys, a middle-aged couple from Dunlop and a visiting journalist.
"Ten minutes till show time," Hahn says a little later, slumping onto his bench, his tone subdued. He harbors a growing discomfort resembling that of the new people on the block who invite the neighbors in for a Saturday-night party, only to see 9 o'clock pass without a guest in sight. Hahn's humiliation is naked. He knows, after all, that Jackie Gleason also lives on the edge of the course and drinks in the grill; ergo, why would the addition of Paul Hahn excite the neighborhood? Still, who would have thought people would stay away in such numbers?
"If they're not here by now," Hahn says, "they aren't coming. I've done this act enough times to know." With bravado, he arises and begins to clown for his audience of five.
"Arnold Palmer," he pipes, imitatively tucking his chin against his chest and hitching hard at his belt. "Jack Nicklaus," he says dawdling over a shot, first addressing the ball, then stepping back to reexamine the turf and make yet another study of the fairway. "Here's one I learned from Tommy Bolt," Hahn says. He hurls an iron 20 yards down the fairway. "Tommy's clubmakers advertise that their clubs stay in the air longer than any other brand." Everyone, right down to the fifth spectator, chuckles politely.