"I could," said Sam, "dependin' on when is the party?"
"Day after tomorrow," said the lady.
"Well, I don't know," said Sam, rubbing his chin. "If I can git out there, I'll git one. The question is, will I have time to git out."
"You've got a pretty full schedule, Sam," said Gary Nixon.
Sam thought hard. Then his face lit up. "Why, shucks," he said to the lady guest, "I got a couple wild turkeys in the freezer. Be glad to send you one for the party."
The lady guest gushed: "Oh, you're a darling, Sam!"
"Yes'm," said Sam, waving to a man passing by. "President of the Columbia Broadcasting System," he explained. "Or one of'em."
With such chitchat, the dinner hour flew by. Afterward, Gary Nixon and I paid a visit to Freddie Martin, the retired Greenbrier professional and golf club manager, who lives with his wife in a little bungalow that he built to replace a larger house that was getting to be too much for Mrs. Martin. Freddie told of seeing, for the first time, the young Sam Snead hit a golf ball back in the early '30s at Hot Springs. He knew instantly that he was looking at the greatest natural talent he had ever seen. He offered Sam a job, and Sam, of course, grabbed at the chance to move in as assistant at Greenbrier.
Sam (Freddie said) almost got fired the first week or so. He was playing Greenbrier's Old White Course behind Alva Bradley, onetime owner of the Cleveland Indians baseball club and director of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (which owns Greenbrier). Observing that Mr. Bradley was holing out on the 5th green ahead, Sam teed up and put his full power into a drive with that same old wood he's using today. The ball took off low and then rose and straightened out like an arching missile, landed just short of the green and bounded up and plopped squarely on the wealthy derriere of Mr. Alva Bradley. The ball had traveled 335 yards to this distinguished terminus, and Mr. Bradley, stung on the bottom, reacted by blowing his top. His bellow of rage could be heard all the way back at the clubhouse, and soon it was actually bouncing off the walls there as Mr. Bradley confronted L. R. Johnston, the managing director of the Greenbrier, and spoke violently to the subject of bad-mannered young professionals who hit their second shots while a preceding foursome is still on the green. Mr. Johnston frantically pushed buttons and rang bells until Freddie Martin and his entire staff were on the carpet. When, after painful attempts to get a word in edgewise, Mr. Martin at last established that the ball that had bounded into Mr. Bradley was not a second shot but a first shot, a drive, Mr. Bradley absolutely refused to believe that anybody could hit a ball that far from the tee. More witnesses were summoned, and when it was at last established beyond doubt that young Sam Snead, the new assistant pro, had indeed driven the green, Mr. Bradley was aghast. He turned his back on the assembly and personally sought out Sam to extend his apologies and his congratulations.
Freddie Martin grows a little misty-eyed when he talks about Sam, as a father might in speaking of his son. "Sam," said Freddie, patting the blind old cocker spaniel at his feet, "was the man who brought competitive golf down into the 60s. Sam did it, not Jones, not Hagen, but Sam." Freddie chuckled as he digressed for a moment. "There was nobody like Hagen, of course. I remember seeing him driving up to the first tee in an important tournament. Gene Sarazen was waiting to tee off with him. Hagen got out of a taxicab wearing a tuxedo, said, 'Be with you in a minute, Gene,' and hustled on down to the locker room to change. Played one hell of a game that day, I recall, and hadn't had a wink of sleep all night."