- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
He birdied that first hole, but it was one of his few successes of the day. The wind bothered him, and the sand traps caught many of his shots.
When he finished his round, the President expressed his dismay at the number of traps. "Too many of the things," he said.
He could hardly be blamed for his statement. One hundred and thirtytwo traps awaited him, almost three times the number of traps at either the Augusta National or Burning Tree, the other two golf courses he has used consistently.
There used to be around 150 traps at Newport. Fifteen have been removed, not because of the ill temper of the membership (the club is proud of its hazards), but because the upkeep of so many sand traps, which must be raked every day and have their edges clipped, was overtaxing Ray Granger's limited force of assistants.
During his vacation the President spent a lot of time in Granger's traps, the sand seeping into his golf shoes; but less so as time went on, and the experience, in any case, meant an immeasurable improvement, from all reports, in his blasting shots. He wields the wedge as he should—"exploding out" with a strong stroke, the cloud of dry sand settling on him as he climbs out of the trap for his next shot.
In general, the President's game, which is strong on short irons and putting, turned out to be not particularly suited to the Newport course. The great essential of the golfer's equipment at Newport is a long and very accurate drive to avoid traps set along and across the fairways. The President's long game wasn't that accurate. But despite the sand traps and the steady wind blowing hard from the bay, he came to love the course and accepted its exacting nature as a most interesting challenge. He seemed to arrive earlier at the clubhouse as his vacation progressed and one morning arrived simultaneously with the milk truck delivering supplies.
At the country club, the presidential golfing day would start with the arrival, a half hour before the President himself, of a gray Navy truck pulling a trailer surmounted by a canvas-covered, boxlike structure. Inside was the presidential golfing cart, which for security reasons was kept under lock and key when not in use. Of Chevrolet make, the President's cart is probably the fanciest of its kind—laden down with accouterments one would be hard put to find a use for on the golf links: two headlights ("for use during an eclipse," a member of the press suggested), a brake light in the rear, a cigaret lighter and a horn mounted on the steering bar. At the back of the cart there is an open compartment and brackets for two golf bags—a space unused since all the golf bags in the foursome were carried by caddies.
The cart with a Motorola
Two other carts from the country club, unadorned and weather-beaten, accompanied the President's vehicle on the golfing round—one of them for the other members of the foursome, the other for a secret service man with an ear cocked for messages coming through on a Motorola radio placed in the back of the cart, a last link in the communication setup reaching in over the stone walls confining the links.
At 9 o'clock all would be in readiness for the President's arrival—a police car standing at the entrance of the drive, the press and various onlookers clustered in front of the clubhouse steps and with them Norman Palmer, the club professional, and Howard Cushing. Palmer invariably played as the President's partner. Mr. Cushing, in his capacity as president of the club, was also a regular member of the foursome. In the weeks preceding the President's arrival, the thought of playing host was unsettling, and Mr. Cushing was on the practice fairways. Almost every day. The morning of the President's first golfing day, he was up by 7 and, to take his mind off his approaching responsibilities, groped his way through a thick early-morning mist to the rocks off his estate to fish for striped bass. Succeeding days, though, he treated more or less as a matter of course, and indeed one day inadvertently arrived 10 minutes after the President, who that morning had made one of his surprisingly early starts.