Harrelson's approach to golf might be termed Palmeresque. He attacks the course, taking risks most players like to avoid. "I've always been wide open and flamboyant," he said, "and that's the way I'll play. I'm not taking out any irons and laying up. I'm opening the carburetor and letting the ball go. Nobody will ever call me a safe player." In all three rounds he tried chancy shots over trees and water, and not once did a gamble fail. "One lime it will," said Dave Marr, "and then he'll learn to play safe when he should play safe."
Most of the pros were impressed with the Hawk's compact swing. One of them even went so far as to say that golf "needs" the Hawk. ( Bowie Kuhn once said that about baseball, remember?) "You'd expect his swing to be very fast and uncoordinated, since he has just quit baseball," said the pro, "but it isn't. He'll make money out here."
Some pros feel the tour needs more city slickers like Harrelson. "The trouble out here is that we've got too many farmers and too many milk shake drinkers," Larry Mowry said. "I'd like to see a few more city guys who will sit down and have a beer once in a while. Everybody wonders where all the farmers come from on the tour. Well, I know. They've been building golf courses where the pastures used to be, and all the farmers give their kids golf clubs."
Before he can citify the tour, however, Harrelson must pass a sectional qualifying school at Winston-Salem, N.C. next month, and then survive the tough PGA rookie school at Palm Beach Gardens in October. "I've played golf every day for five weeks," Harrelson said, "and I'll play every day until I go to Winston-Salem. I can't get worse, for sure."
If he does qualify for the tour, Harrelson will have no worries about money, at least for a while. Although he has spent most of the estimated $500,000 he made in baseball over the last four years, the Hawk now has an angel—Si Haddad, president of the ABC Demolition Corp. of Arlington, Va. "He'll have no money worries if he puts his mind to golf and works at it," Haddad said at Akron. "If he doesn't work at it, forget it." Was Harrelson going to get along on the tour rookie's average subsidy of $400 a week, Haddad was asked. "The Hawk?" he answered, raising his eyebrows. "Are you kidding?" Best guess is that Haddad will see that Harrelson does not fall below about $750 a week until he begins paying his way.
Last week the Hawk won only $210. Considering that he spent 15 hours shooting his 221, it means he earned $14 an hour. Playing baseball for Cleveland this year he made roughly $170 an hour. Maybe the Hawk should return to the Indians.
"No way," he said. "I could work out for a week and help the Red Sox. But there's no way I'll ever play in Cleveland again." Well, maybe in the Cleveland Open.