JAN. 1, Louisville—I'm not Arnold Palmer. I'm not Jack Nicklaus. I'm not one of the handful of superstars on the professional golf tour. I don't fly my own jet from tournament to tournament. I don't have my own equipment company. I don't have any fan clubs, and when I walk down the fairways, unless I'm playing with Arnie or Jack or Billy or somebody like that, I don't usually have much of a gallery to bother me. I'm a professional golfer—and a good one, I think—but I'm just not one of the glamour boys. I haven't won a tournament in a year and a half, not since the 1967 Indianapolis 500 Festival. But I don't want anyone to waste any sympathy on me. Last year I became the first man in golfing history to earn more than $100,000 in prize money without winning a tournament. I finished second three times and I placed among the top 15 in 19 tournaments, as often as any other golfer, more often than Palmer, Nicklaus and Casper. The heart of my game is consistency.
Right now, a few months short of my 30th birthday, I should be approaching the peak of my game. I'm looking forward to the 1969 tour. I hate the traveling life, but I love to play golf, and I'd love to make this my biggest year. The tour's not what most people seem to think. It's not all sunshine and pretty girls and cheering crowds. It's a life without roots. It's a potentially rewarding life, but also a frustrating life. There's no real opponent except your own stupid mental and physical mistakes.
JAN. 4, Buena Park, Calif.—"Hello, Frank. Boy, you look fat." Everyone is picking on my belly. I suppose I am getting fat. I'm up to 195 pounds, which doesn't spread out too well on my 6' body. I promise myself I'm going to go on a diet. Tomorrow.
The first thing I did today was put out some fishlines about getting an automobile. I've got a car from the tournament committee for here, but I need one for the whole six or seven weeks out West. I could rent one, but it'd cost $700, maybe $800, and I don't see any sense in spending the money if I don't have to. I've been trying to pull every deal I know how to get a free car. I'd be happy to pose for publicity pictures in return for the use of a car. I'm just going to drive it for a few thousand miles and then turn it back in. So far, I haven't had any luck. I sure hope I don't wind up renting one. That's a lot of money just for driving around.
JAN. 15, Napa, Calif.—I'm worrying about my putting. I'm worrying about my whole game. I'm a chronic worrier, and it seems like I always have to have something to worry about. Right now my main concern is finishing among the top 60 money-winners for 1969. You've got to be in the top 60 to make it worthwhile to play the tour. For one thing, if you're in the top 60, you've earned at least $30,000 in prize money, which means you're doing better than breaking even. But more important, as long as you stay in the top 60, you're exempt from qualifying during the following year. If you have to qualify each week, it's almost impossible to make a living. There's just too much strain, too much uncertainty. You never get a chance to relax. Most people'd think it's ridiculous for me to worry about making the top 60, that it'd be as simple as falling off a log. It should be and it has been and it probably will be—I suppose I'll be laughing at my fears by the end of the year—but I still can't help wondering whether I'm heading for another good year or for a slump. I've seen too many players, brilliant players, have fantastic starts in their careers, have five or six years like I've had on the tour, then go into slumps lasting anywhere from one year to five. My wife, Pat, gets mad at me for worrying all the time, but I can't help it.
FEB. 4, Palm Springs—My good old four-wood seems to be coming along. I tell you, if I can get control of my fairway woods and my bunker shots, I'm going to be hell to beat in the Bob Hope Classic. They've laughed at my bunker shots too long out here.
The Hope is played on four different courses, and its last two rounds are on national TV Saturday and Sunday. I noticed today the cameras are all set up at Indian Wells, the host course. Naturally, the pairings are arranged so that Arnie and Jack and Cas and Lee Trevino and those boys'll be at Indian Wells Saturday to smile at the cameras. But not old Frank. Same story as the Crosby. Old Frank didn't quite make it with the big boys this year.
FEB. 7—I've got a real good caddie here, a boy named Tony Mullen. When we left the course today, I wrote a check for Tony for $20 because he needed some spending money. We went to the bank together—I wanted to get some cash, too—and when Tony walked up to the lady teller, she looked at his check, made out to Tony Mullen and signed by Frank Beard. "You caddie for Frank Beard?" she said.
"Yes, ma'am," he said.
She cashed the check and gave him his money.