We often receive emails from our members but this one really warmed our hearts. The history of the game is often overlooked and many, even those in the golfing community, don’t have the same appreciation for the “legends” of their time.
Thank you to Phil McNall, one of our foundation members!
Gary… I get nostalgic on occasion and wanted to share with you. It happens with old age. And I sense you would appreciate.
As I said previously, for me it has been the journey not the destination.
I first met Jack Fleck in San Diego in 1971. I was serving in USS New Orleans LPH-11, a helicopter carrier.
We had just returned from picking up the Apollo-14 capsule near Pago-Pago…Shepard, Roosa and Mitchell were the astronauts.
Didn’t dare hit balls off the hangar deck so was anxious to hit balls when we arrived home. There was a range near my home. On the way to the range I passed by Billy Casper’s
house and would see him out in the yard frequently…never stopped though. The range was set back from the road and one hit toward the road. Grass tees, but only a small shack.
No amenities. I went up to get a bucket from the “elderly” attendant and thought, I recognize this man. He stood aside enough for me to see a framed 8×10 of two golfers on the wall behind him
…Hogan and Fleck!!! The attendant was Jack Fleck. I was agog. Apparently he had fallen on some “hard times”, but was hale and hearty. Naturally I was circumspect about chewing his ear off, but I did take some lessons. His only advice was “knock ’em together” (knees). WHAT a gentleman…so humble and giving. We corresponded over the years as he was a Navy veteran.
So I was deeply saddened by his death. He loved the game and people. I have his book…a treasure to me.
In the same time frame I met Dick Mayer, a CC pro near San Diego. He too had fallen on “hard times” as I learned. He was nice also, but Fleck stood out head and shoulders above most in his era.
Later in that decade I was in PA and a friend’s Mother bid and won at charity auction a round of golf with Gene Littler at La Jolla CC in San Diego. My friend invited me and it was quite a thrill. Gene asked if we wanted to ride or walk. Of course walk. So we hoofed it, all with carry bags including Gene. Quite a gentleman and he treated us to a cocktail after. I didn’t ask for any swing tips 🙂
After graduation in 1958 I was stationed on a ship in San Diego. (I grew up in the snow…used to sneak on Oak Hill CC in Rochester NY). Re San Diego my first thought was how come no one ever told me about this place!!??
Anyway Torrey Pines had just opened so I played there as often as sea duty would allow. Only an outhouse and the pro shop was a shack back then. Still took 5/6 hours in those days…sad.
Phil Rodgers was in the USMC at the recruit depot and I got to play with him several times at Torrey, always lost my butt. He was nice and fun, but a bit volcanic to say the least. EGO too.
He could have won the US Open had he not tried to hit it off a tree branch.
I just read the Golf Channel will air a three part series titled “Arnie” after the Masters. I still watch you and Gavin with Peter on my VHS.
Always pick up something “new”. Peter was good. I rarely watch the GC now. (Just visit your web site and Alex).
My only visit to your fair country was in the mid 1980s as a guest of the RAAF and RAN HQs. Great trip. Superb senior officers. Even got a game in, but can’t remember the course name.
It wasn’t Royal Melbourne.
I was thinking about Mr. Hogan the other day. He spent 5 years in the Service and several years recovering from the accident. I wonder what he would have accomplished had he had nine “more” years.
BTW in my opinion Casper was the most underrated golfer of all time.
Hope I didn’t bore you. Hope to meet you some day soon.
Warmest regards, Phil