- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"When Dave is away, I keep busy. I take tennis lessons and belong to a health club. I'm having a ball. At first I was afraid to be alone. I was sure someone was going to break in and kill me. Dave got me a dog, a Norwegian elkhound named Boltar.
"Our only social life is after the games. You go through a lot of phases. At first you do everything, go everywhere, accept all the invitations, and all of a sudden you say, 'I really don't want to do this anymore.' Now, we just do what we want to do. I don't know what I'll do when he's underfoot all the time, though. When he was writing his book he had a tape recorder and he used to carry it with him and talk into it all the time; he used to drive me insane.
"I dread the day it all ends. He gets letters from girls, but if I worried about other women I'd be a wreck, so I don't. I worry more about all that flying he does. I'm terrified of flying. I have to be really bombed to get on a plane, and here we are this summer going to Spain with about 100 NBA players." Gerri laughed. "God wouldn't take a whole plane full of basketball players, would he?" Three waiters at Harry Stevens smiled in unison. Gerri is their darling.
The first year I cleared $18,000 even though all I had to keep me going was a pregnant wife and a loopy swing.
The athlete's wife does the best she can. She adjusts to travel, copes with camp followers and bleeds a little when he has a bad season. Sometimes she can't cut it, and then she calls it quits. The ex-wife of touring pro Dave Marr called it quits. Susan, who has recently remarried—a lawyer this time—is attractively petite, energetic. She speaks in bursts, her speech frequently followed by derisive laughter. Or she speaks quietly, as if to herself. Behind each statement, the question: what happened?
"I have a great nostalgia for the good years on the tour. Oh, we were on a great ride, and it was at the right time. Everything about it was magnificent. Even the air smelled magnificent every single day. When we were first married I used to watch David practice for an hour or two, then watch him play for five hours, then watch him practice again, then we'd go home together and go to dinner, and go to a movie together and go to bed together, get up in the morning together and go to the golf course together. Someone once said, 'Divorce is the closest thing to death,' and I think that is true. You can't be married to someone for 12 years and then suddenly say, 'Well, I'm over that.'
"There are very few cities in the world I can think of without thinking of David Marr. I would still rather see him swing at a golf ball than any other living human. That includes Nicklaus and Palmer and all the rest of them. He is loaded with style in everything he does, from golf to clothes to the way he handles himself—the whole thing.
"David once said, 'If you can't live on tour as well as you do at home, you shouldn't be out here.' I almost remember when I had the first pang of doubt. I thought, my God, I'm wasting a lot of my brain. I can remember walking around the golf course, or sitting by a pool, or driving for hours. I mean, I sort of knew Kennedy was President, and I sort of knew what was going on in the world, but these things were relatively unimportant compared to who was the biggest money-winner.
"I adored the first couple of years. We were married in 1960 during the concluding round of the Bob Hope Desert Classic, so our marriage sort of spanned the incredible rise in the popularity of golf. You could hack around when you were playing for $50,000, but when you are playing for $1 million it does change things. Golfers are businessmen now, and it's a whole different world. The wives are more uptight with so much money riding on the game. The peak of my life with David was before our first child was born. That's a very sad thing to say, but I will never forget the joyousness of discovering the United States with this glorious human being. The peak as far as play is concerned was not when he won the PGA, it was Augusta. Isn't that strange? I will never forget the four rounds he put together at Augusta in 1964, when he came in second.
"I would say the worst thing that ever happened was winning the PGA, which is an appalling thing to say, but to me it turned the whole thing around. Once you're up there, you're busy and frantic, the fun is gone. I remember praying the day that David won the PGA. I prayed, 'Please, let him win this tournament because he needs it. I think it will make him a better person.' I thought then that he would relax and feel assured, but the opposite happened. He then felt he had to prove it wasn't a fluke. Tony, my youngest son, was born a few hours after David won the PGA. He flew home the next day, spent a few hours in the hospital with me and went on to the next tournament. He was player of the year then and head of the PGA tournament committee and on the Ryder Cup team. From then on we never stopped. It was a kind of public performance of going here and there. I left my newborn baby to see him play in the Ryder Cup. You make these incredible decisions! I mean, my son will be with me forever, but the Ryder Cup matches lasted for three days.