GET OUT THERE AND CHIP
Rah-rah coaches are common in team sports like football and basketball, and not unheard of in such endeavors as baseball and track, even though individual skills in those sports are often more important than group coordination. But golf, that sphere of silent effort in which a classic tableau is the athlete alone with his thoughts as he contemplates a difficult lie, does not seem to lend itself at all to fiery, extroverted leadership.
Don't try to tell that to Ron Roberts, new golf coach at Wake Forest. To hackers, Wake Forest is a sort of Notre Dame of golf, the hallowed grove where Arnold Palmer and other pro shotmakers did their undergraduate work. Now rebellion is shaking its woods and irons. Roberts called a team meeting to tell his charges that he "was tired of trying to hold the negative element together." He wrote out a "pledge of support" for members of the squad to sign. Among other things, the pledge said a player should sign "only when you are ready and able to make a 100% effort for Wake Forest and Ron Roberts. I make it clear that the two are inseparable."
A dozen players signed the pledge without comment, but three held off, notably All-America Bob Byman, a senior. Byman said he didn't mind pledging 100% to Wake Forest but, objecting to the rest of the proviso, quit the squad. Byman said he was contemplating leaving school, too, in order to try making it in professional golf.
Knute Rockne never had to put up with that kind of reaction from George Gipp.
Ron Johnson, the running back who played out his option with the New York Giants and signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys last June, says of the Cowboys, "The organization is unbelievable. The club treats players and fans like kings. They've got two phones for the players. Not pay phones, private. They've got a player lounge with free milk, soda, doughnuts. I lost my tickets to a game once and they replaced them right away. No hassle. There's a girl in the office whose sole function is to handle player problems. She finds apartments, jobs, discounts, whatever you need. I was set up with an apartment and a car, my wife with a job."
And so, said Johnson, who was cut by Dallas before the season began, "That's what made it all so shocking when I was released."
CHAMPIONS OR CHAMPION
After Forego wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 23—and who's going to beat him?—the best horse now running in America may travel across the country to compete in the $350,000 Champions at Santa Anita on Nov. 6. Victory in those two races would move the splendid gelding, who currently is third in career money winnings with $1,655,217, to the top of the list, edging him past the renowned Kelso, who won $1,977,896 in the 1960s while being named Horse of the Year five straight times.