I’ve been away from blogging due to health problems. Things are looking up and I hope to be back with more posts, mostly about boating on Lake Washington. This is a temporary diversion from boating but it is one of my life memories.I said when I worked as a volunteer at the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay that this was one of my most memorable experiences related to golf. What was my most memorable golf experience? The 1964 Masters!
I was 22 and worked as a volunteer at the 1964 Masters played at the famed Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta GA. Arnold Palmer, “The King,” was the winner and this was his last Masters and Major golf tournament victory. (I, of course, did not know at the time this would be his last. And for those of you who have been on another planet most of this year, Palmer passed away at the age of 87 in 2016.)
My assignment for the final round was working with one other person on the leaderboard on number 13. This leaderboard was isolated on the hillside in the azaleas and woods across the green from the crowds. It provided a fantastic view, for the two volunteers, of this hole which is one of the most famous in the golfing world. It is the last of three holes in Augusta National’s famed “Amen Corner.” Following the 1964 tournament this scoreboard blight was removed.
Palmer and David Marr were the last group. Nicklaus was in the previous group. Palmer birdied 13 and the roar from the crowd was incredible.
The Masters had rules and decorum for the volunteers and my volunteer partner and I could not just bail when Palmer finished the hole. We waited the proper time, closed our station and then we bailed. We crossed hole 14 to 15 and watched Palmer birdie that hole to another tremendous roar. We followed Palmer in. There was a loud standing ovation for his every step of the way.
Palmer was the King. I started golf in the early 50s at about the same time Palmer and TV exploded on the scene. He is credited to doing more than anyone else to advance and popularize golf. There was a void in having a golf super star after the Hogan-Snead-Nelson rivalry of the 40s. The fans loved Palmer’s swagger, hitching of the pants and go for broke shots. None of these traits came across as cocky or offensive because he exuded charisma, sportsmanship and being a people’s person. TV helped and he made golf for TV.
The Aiken Golf Club.) There was no initiation fee and my dues were $8.33 per month for unlimited golf. I asked some fellow members about the Masters. I was advised to volunteer and request the scorekeeper group. I did that and the next week a large box came to my doorstep. The box contained my volunteer assignment information and clothing plus guest and parking passes. There was no charge like there is today for volunteers.
And - - - about a month following the Masters there was a tournament at Augusta National for the scorekeepers. I got to play Augusta National!