This sort of antic imagination began taking shape at Santa Cruz, Calif. in the 1960s and '70s, when the Simpsons—Mom, Dad and Juli's older brothers, Danny and Mike—lived just off the 14th hole at Pasatiempo Golf Club. In 1976, the dashing new pro at the club was one Brian Inkster, who has streaky blond hair, green eyes and a fluid swing.
"I began taking lessons from him when I was 16," Juli says. "I was also working as the cart girl at the club. That is, Brian would bark 'Get a cart up here!' and I'd have to jump. The secret reason I married him when I was 20 was so I could get a raise and a better job in the office."
What she also got was this huge, flowing game, peculiarly hers, accented by an extraordinary swing. "I taught her a method I call the Leslie King," says Brian.
Oh, the old Leslie...the who?
"Leslie King is 73 now," Brian says. "He teaches in London. He's holed up in what used to be squash courts in a beat-up apartment building not far from Harrods. There's no golf course, nothing. Just nets. He makes you hit into nets so you can concentrate on your swing and not worry about where the ball's going. He's the master."
"And it's all in the arms. See?" says Juli. "It's tricky to learn. See, in the U.S. we overstress the lower body. We insist that you have to generate power with the swing of your hips. But not The Old Leslie King. With him, it's all arms first, and then...." She pauses. "Look at Tom Watson!" she barks. Everybody jumps, as if Watson has just walked into the room. "I mean, watch him swing. You can't tell me that he doesn't do it all with his arms."
The Free Arm Swing has carried Juli Inkster to some pretty nifty triumphs. In her debut in national competition she was second-low amateur in the 1978 U.S. Women's Open; she was 1981 California Amateur champion; a college all-star at San Jose State; and a member of the 1980 U.S. Women's World Amateur Team and the victorious 1982 Curtis Cup team, which defeated Great Britain- Ireland 14�-3� three weeks ago at the Denver Country Club. Inkster won all four of her matches there, including each of her two singles matches by the staggering score of 7 and 6.
And at Colorado Springs she just kept rolling on, wearing that rakehell look from time to time. Indeed, when the divots of the last day had settled, Inkster had upped her astonishing match-play record to 20-2 in five consecutive Women's Amateurs and won 18 straight matches.
In the morning, with the dew still roughly up to their shinbones, the ragged little gallery assembled around the 1st tee. Everybody, of course, faced the golfers. But if they had looked around just then, toward the mountain, they would have seen two deer. They looked like Mom and Pop deer, standing in the back row as quietly as everyone else. After Hanlon and Inkster had played away, the critters shrugged, if that's possible for deer, and strolled off in another direction, having seen enough to satisfy their curiosity.
They missed all the good stuff. Especially the alltime crusher, delivered in the afternoon's 18. The two women had played more or less evenly—no great edge that the other couldn't overcome—until the 30th hole of the match. It's a 490-yard, par-5 monster with a canyon running diagonally through the middle, followed by a giant-slalom slope dropping toward the valley floor. Hanlon hit a fine, crisp drive off the tee. So did Inkster. Then, after walking a few steps to peer down the steep slope, Inkster went back to her ball in the fairway and lofted it somewhere into the sun. It came down on the green far below, plunk, and rolled smack up to the pin. It was, to be historically precise, a 239-yard four-iron shot, a shot they'll talk about at the Broadmoor for years to come, not to mention the eagle it led to.