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A short man others may have to look up to
Alfred Wright
March 04, 1968
Deane Beman, who is just starting his first full season on the pro tour, is only 5'7�" and does not hit the ball as far as the big boys, but his ability to putt and his quiet confidence mark him as a future giant of the game
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March 04, 1968

A Short Man Others May Have To Look Up To

Deane Beman, who is just starting his first full season on the pro tour, is only 5'7�" and does not hit the ball as far as the big boys, but his ability to putt and his quiet confidence mark him as a future giant of the game

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A few months later Beman finally found the man who could repair the damage—Dr. Rolla Campbell, a New York surgeon who is the brother of Bill Campbell, a former amateur champion with whom Beman had been playing championship golf for years. After some exploratory surgery, Dr. Campbell rerouted the tendons and ligaments that had caused the trouble. By early 1967 Deane discovered he could once again play all the golf shots without wincing.

With the wrist healed, Beman decided to turn pro, but before doing so, he consulted three important people. "When I reached the Masters," Beman says, "I told my wife. Naturally, she would have preferred me to be home, but she also wanted me to be happy doing what I felt I should do. Then I told my partner, Bill Buppert, that I might, and he told me he thought I should have done it before. I had already accepted an invitation to play in the Walker Cup matches in England in May, so I sat down with Joe Dey of the USGA and told him what I wanted to do, and he was very nice about it and said if that was what I wanted to do then I ought to go ahead. Here I had spent eight or nine years developing a routine and a way of life, and it was all changed in that one day. Very few people embark on a professional golf career with the same obligations—a business, a home, a family, four children and a mortgage."

Very few people embark on a professional golf career with the same kind of game as Deane Beman, either. With the exception of a few superannuated diehards from a previous era who still cling to the tour, Beman is certainly the shortest hitter in big-time golf, a fact that was painfully evident when he lost the sudden-death playoff to Palmer at the Hope Classic. On the deciding hole—a 435-yard 4-par—Deane had to hit a four-wood for his second shot against Palmer's six-iron. Beman willingly admits that on most fairway shots he is anywhere from a half a club to a club and a half shorter than most of the other players. "But that's of my choosing," he adds. "I'm capable of hitting the ball pretty much as far as anyone. It's just that I prefer to hit a little more club and hit it easier, because that way I feel I can get the ball closer to the pin.

"Anybody on the tour can hit a super golf shot," Beman adds. "My plan is not to work on perfecting the beautiful shots but eliminating the bad shots. I don't mean I'll ever stop striving for excellence but not at the expense of control and accuracy. Most players out here generate such terrific club-head speed that when they make a bad swing the ball goes almost as far as with a good one. When I hit it bad, it's short—not behind a tree or under a bush. That short drive of mine doesn't get in too much trouble."

Out on the tour, when the discussion gets around to Deane Beman, it is not his lack of power they talk about but his putting. Bent over his ball on the putting green like a question mark, his battle-scarred Bull's Eye in hand, Beman must be ranked with the finest putters that golf has ever seen. His method is absurdly simple: keep your mind a blank. "All you do," he explains, "is set yourself up the way you plan to stroke the shot and then let your automatic reflexes take over. It's when you're thinking about something and then change your mind at the time of stroking the ball that you get into trouble."

To illustrate, Beman told about his second round at this year's Los Angeles Open when he was struggling through a cold and blustery day with a bad case of flu. "I was just numb," he recalled, "and I played just awful. When I reached the green I was exhausted to the point where I couldn't think of anything. So every time I putted the ball it just seemed to roll right into the cup. I think I only took something like 26 putts."

Finally, there is one quality involved in Beman's golf, something not found in a golf bag, that promises to make him a winner. Joe Dey mentioned it when speaking of Deane recently. "Apart from everything else," said Dey, "he's got character."

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