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AMATEUR HEROES
Herbert Warren Wind
September 30, 1957
Billy Joe Patton, Reid Jack, Hillman Robbins, Bud Taylor were four of the many who emerged in the Walker Cup and the National Amateur
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September 30, 1957

Amateur Heroes

Billy Joe Patton, Reid Jack, Hillman Robbins, Bud Taylor were four of the many who emerged in the Walker Cup and the National Amateur

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The Country Club course is so laid out that with a little bit of luck and a little bit of footwork, a spectator can watch the action taking place on the four finishing holes: the 425-yard 15th; the 170-yard 16th; the 370-yard 17th which doglegs to the left; and the famous old 18th, 410 yards to the plateaued green beneath the lofty elms. As you dashed back and forth on the afternoon of the quarters, trying to keep an eye on all four matches, putts were toppling into the cups from all over the greens and you had barely digested one phenomenal stroke when you were jolted by another. In the first match Andrews holed a good-size putt on the 16th to become only one down to Taylor, but the latter wrapped things up by rolling in one from 15 feet for a 3 on the 18th. Down the 18th a few minutes later came Rudolph and Yost, Rudolph 1 up and in a seemingly invulnerable position when he was on in two with Yost snagged in the rough behind the elms on the right. But Yost dropped a 20-footer for his 4, and when Rudolph took three putts—extra holes. On the 19th, Rudolph made up for this previous generosity by holing from seven feet for a winning birdie. In the third match, with Robbins 1 up and three to play, same thing: Robbins banged in a beautiful putt for his bird on the 16th and closed Chapman out by sticking his approach on the next hole four feet past the hole. And then came Baxter and Rodgers to top off this whole incredible sequence. On the 17th, Rodgers, 1 down, rolled in one that must have been all of 65 feet, downhill. Baxter took a deep breath and holed his 17-footer to halve the hole in 3s. On the home green, young Rodgers had to get a 20-footer for a birdie to keep the match alive—and did so. He got his scrambling half on the first extra-hole with a 6-footer. On the 20th an 8-footer stood between Baxter and defeat, and he put it in. On the 21st, just when it seemed that this might go on indefinitely, Rodgers finally went when he mishit his second into the rough and needed three to get down, even as you and I.

A brief word about the two finalists, Bud Taylor, the runner-up, and Hill-man Robbins, the new champion. Dr. Taylor, the Pomona dentist, is, both as a person and a golfer, one of the pleasantest additions the national golfing scene has had in years, and it is to be hoped that in the summers to come the young Pomonese school children will be considerate enough to have their teeth fixed in August so that the good doctor will be in a position to take off for the Amateur in perfect conscience. Robbins, the young Tennessean, is a modest, soft-spoken fellow, so slim and so angular that, when he lopes down the fairway, he gives you the impression he is a country lad cutting across the course on his way to the hills to hunt some squirrel. Two short weeks before his victory in the Amateur, Hillman was a most disconsolate young man, feeling way down in the mouth after losing his singles in the Walker Cup. He played with great determination at The Country Club, and whenever he had to make a key shot, he invariably came through with a wonderful shot. He is a most deserving champion.

And a final word about the British _ who were the yeast of this three weeks' leavening of flavorful golf. It is a pity that the hard economics of the situation are such that the Walker Cup cannot be scheduled as an annual event, for that would assure our having the match over here (plus an international field in the Amateur) every two years instead of every four. The British brought some solid players this time—the next cup match, at Muirfield in 1959, will be a real struggle—and as usual they brought their keen appreciation of friendly competition and their ready humor. A hundred pleasant episodes come to mind, among them a singularly British interchange that took place at the Walker Cup flag-raising ceremony. As you know, it is an ancient and imperishable custom among the British to fasten weird nicknames on their friends when they are boys together at school, and no matter if the friend later rises to a cabinet post or an army command, those many years later he is still "Wink Eye" or "Muffin" or whatever it was to the old crowd. At Minikahda, in a truly impressive ceremony complete with military band and color guard, the flags of the two nations were raised, the two teams introduced, and the chairman of the Championship Committee of the Royal & Ancient, a handsome, silver-haired gentleman, was then asked to say a few words, which he did impeccably. As the silver-haired man sat down to a round of applause, two Britishers in the crowd beamed proudly at each other. "Never heard the old Bog Rat speak better," said one of them. "Absolutely," agreed his companion, "top form."

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