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How a trip to Reynolds Lake Oconee taught me to appreciate the sport of golf

EXPERT COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
Published 26 Nov 2018, 10:50 IST
26 Nov 2018, 10:50 IST

#2: Golf's history has been full of colorful characters

Lloyd Mangrum among the crowd at the Mangrum Drives
Lloyd Mangrum among the crowd at the Mangrum Drives

Between touchdown dances, expensive Super Bowl commercials, World Series locker room champagne baths and college drafts, other professional sports have been better with creating media-friendly spectacles than golf. In turn, many people assume that golf is not full of exciting athletes.

Dan Vukelich of the New Mexico Golf News politely disputed this while we were at Reynolds Lake Oconee: "People say that golfers aren't athletes. They rightly call PGA Tour and Champions Tour player Duffy Waldorf ''The Walrus.' The LPGA's Christina Kim has the body shape of a fireplug. Yet they can do something most people find incredibly difficult and perform in their sport at the highest level."

Vukelich continued: "Few people have the physique of LeBron James or Serena Williams, but seeing regular-looking people doing amazing things with a golf ball gives the rest of us the 'Walter Mitty' belief and hope we too can be great."

But specific to some of the more exciting players that golf has had over the years, Vukelich did not hesitate to name names. "Lloyd Mangrum was a notorious drinker and would arrive at the first tee with the shakes, then drive his first shot into the woods so as to gain privacy to swig from a flask provided by his caddie. Ben Hogan, 'The Hawk,' also was called the Ice Man for his legendary coolness and focus on his own game. As he left a par 3 where his playing partner had just scored a hole-in-one, Hogan asked him, 'I made 2, what did you make?'"

Another one of these interesting folks, according to Vukelich, was Titanic Thompson. "Titanic Thompson was a notorious gambler on and off the course who was honored by the World Series of Poker. In 1933, agents in the Chicago FBI field office read that Al Capone triggerman Jack "Machine McGurn was playing in the Western Open at Olympia Fields Country Club. They went there on Day 2 to arrest him, but agreed to let him finish his round before handcuffing him."

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Modified 20 Dec 2019, 20:02 IST
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