August 17, 2001
Sportswriting about golf tournaments usually has a fairly short shelf life. Like most other reporting, reader interest can be pretty intense, but only until they are distracted by coverage of the next tournament.
For example, I enjoyed reading about the British Open, but I’m already looking forward to this week’s PGA Championship in Atlanta.
Nonetheless, just because reader interest is ephemeral doesn’t mean that well-written golf reporting should be quickly forgotten.
Dick Wimmer did golf fans a favor by reviving some classics of sportswriting in his collection, The Fairway Game: An Anthology of Golf’s Great Finishes and Comebacks, (Burford Books, $19.95 SRP).
The book samples some of the best reporting about some of the most historic golf contests of the 20th Century. It includes most of the famous golf sportswriters, such as Herbert Warren Wind, John Feinstein, and Tim Rosaforte.
The book starts with Grantland Rice’s piece on Bobby Jones at the 1923 U.S. Open. It finishes with Thomas Bonk’s story on David Duval’s 59 on the last day of the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
In between, Wimmer treats readers to a wide range of great sports journalism. Tom Boswell’s piece on Tom Watson’s U.S. Open win at Pebble in 1982 is here. Feinstein’s story on Nick Price’s British Open win in 1994 is more poignant now since the death of Price’s longtime caddie, Squeeky Medlen.
Similarly, Rosaforte’s article on how Tiger Woods won the 1994 U.S. Amateur can’t be read the same way now as it was originally. The readers’ knowledge of Woods’ record since he turned professional keeps that from happening. Nonetheless, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight Rosaforte’s work is probably more intriguing than when it first appeared in print.
Dan Jenkins’ little satire on PGA sponsorships and television was not too subtle, but fun nonetheless. Wimmer also included a very short segment from John Updike’s Golf Dreams, recounting how Tom Kite finished play in his victory at the Atlanta Classic.
Wimmer’s book fits the definition of a useful anthology—a good sample of the best the field has to offer.
These pieces did not go stale.
Congratulations to Cape Region junior golfers Tyler Witman and J.J. Oakley for their tie for second place finish in the prestigious Williamson Cup tournament at Kings Creek Country Club on August 14. The two boys were half of a four-player team that also included Tim Porter and Chris Schieffer of Wilmington.
Witman’s combined score of 147 for the 36-hole event put him only 5 strokes back of the medalist, Tony DiBiteto of New York.
Each’s team’s best three scores for each 18 holes were counted toward the total. Oakley’s opening 75 helped, but his 86 in the second round didn’t qualify.
“It was a good tournament, with teams from 12 golf associations, including players from Canada,” Oakley explained. “This is the first time it’s been played in Delaware.”
Cape Region junior golfer Christina Wagamon also learned a lesson or two from her experience at the Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic (IIAJC) August 11-12, at the University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor.
“It was amazing. The other girls and their golf games were incredible,” Wagamon said recently.
She finished in 48th place with a two-day total of 202. “The hills were much bigger than anything I’d ever played before. A 150-yard uphill par 3 played more like it was 200 to 250 yards long. There were a lot of blind tee shots, too.”
“I played with the tournament leader in the second round, and she was really impressive,” Wagamon said. “She was really good, and she was also really nice.”
“After this, I don’t think I’ll ever be intimidated in any golf tournament from now on,” Wagamon grinned.