My book, Every Shot I Take, takes a lot of inspiration from Harvey's Little Red Book. The book has helped my children and others get to know my father, who died in a plane crash in 1988. When I was collecting my dad's papers for the book, I went through a whole pile of condolence notes. One is from Harvey. He wrote in rickety, clear penmanship, and he concluded his note with these words: "He will probably be teaching in Heaven."
Harvey died on the Sunday before Masters Sunday in April 1995, at age 90. On that day, I won the Tour stop in New Orleans, which got me into the Masters. Harvey was in his home. Somebody told him that I had won, and he put his hands together and made a single clap. Later that night he died. Bud Shrake, the former SPORTS ILLUSTRATED writer who helped Harvey write all four of his books, delivered the eulogy. After the funeral Bud was talking to some friends about that week's Masters. Bud predicted that of Harvey's two most celebrated students, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw, either both would miss the cut or one of them would win. Tom missed the cut. Ben, at 43, won only days after he buried his mentor. I was a stroke behind him.
Neuman, the Little Red Book's editor, makes a fascinating point about the book. It was published not as a new book with new ideas, but as a classic golf book that, it just so happened, had never actually been published. There's no artwork or photography in its 175 pages. There's a tiny oval old-timey drawing on the cover, showing a golfer in knickers. On the back there's an extraordinary author photograph, Harvey in his 70s. His forehead is lined, old and wise. Then there's his shirt, a golf shirt with this amazing squares-within-squares pattern. You'd have to be an original thinker to be drawn to a shirt like that, and Harvey was.
The last time I saw Harvey was some years after my father died. Ed Turley, my father's close friend and former teammate, had been visiting my mother's home in St. Simons, on the Georgia coast. Penta was telling Ed that she had received a royalty check from my father's book, How to Feel a Real Golf Swing, which he wrote with Bob Toski. She was wondering what to do with the money. Ed suggested she might want to use it to start a scholarship at Texas in my father's name, and that's what she did. Ed and I made a visit to Harvey to tell him about it. Justin Leonard, who went on to win the National Amateur and the Open Championship (as my father and Harvey called the U.S. Amateur and the British Open) was the first recipient.
The most famous three words from the Little Red Book are the title of its 18th chapter: "Take Dead Aim." If you can really commit to that idea, you will become a better golfer. In 1997, when I won the PGA Championship, take dead aim was my mantra. It always is, really. It's just that sometimes you are more attuned to its genius than at other times. On the Sunday of the '97 PGA, I played with Justin Leonard. We came up the 18th fairway together. The misting stopped, and the sun came out.
Two years later Ben Crenshaw was the Ryder Cup captain. Justin and I were on his team. We were playing in Brookline, at the Country Club. The Europeans had a four-point lead through two days of the three-day event. That's a huge deficit. On Saturday night before the finale, the players and their wives and Ben and others were in our team room at the hotel. I had been sort of waiting all week for Ben to say something about what he had learned from Harvey, but he never did. On that Saturday night, Ben went around the room and asked those so inclined to say something personal about Ryder Cup golf, about what we might expect on Sunday—anything at all, really.
My wife, Robin, was the last to speak. She asked everybody to remember Harvey's words: Take dead aim. We did, and we won in the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history. Justin Leonard—who knew Harvey, who had received a Davis Love Jr. scholarship at Texas, who was playing for one of Harvey's students—holed one of the most famous putts in golf history on that Sunday to help us win. It was the putt heard 'round the world. Harvey, taking a break from his teaching, must have heard the roar in heaven.
The list of Ryder Cup captains with close links to Mr. Penick makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up: Lloyd Mangrum, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Jackie Burke, Dave Marr, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw. And here I am, captain of the 2012 team. Just the idea of adding one more name to that list gives me goose bumps. I'm certain of this: My life in golf was made possible by the happy circumstance that my father knew Mr. Penick.
Sea Island, Ga.