Here are some of my favorite golf anecdotes: • No two men ever did more for the Pacific Northwest Golf Association than the late brothers...
Here are some of my favorite golf anecdotes:
• No two men ever did more for the Pacific Northwest Golf Association than the late brothers, Carl and Ernie Jonson.
A phone call between the two decades earlier may have led to Sahalee being the site of the 1998 PGA Championship and the 2010 U.S. Senior Open.
Ernie was a founding member at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent and the course designer was Ted Robinson, who was also hired to design Sahalee, where Carl was a founding member.
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According to Ernie’s son, George, some of the Meridian Valley holes turned out shorter than expected. Ernie called Robinson, who said he had measured from the back tees to the back of the greens. Ernie thought the measurements should have been to the middle of the greens.
George said his father got on the phone to Carl and said, “Carl, you better check your course. Ted has a short ruler.”
Sahalee was under construction at the time in the 1960s and Carl and other founders were able to make sure they got the length they wanted. That length helped attract the PGA Championship nearly three decades later.
• All-time explanation:
Hale Irwin electrified fans on the ninth hole with a hole-in-one on the first day of the 2011 Boeing Classic.
When reporters asked about the shot, Iwin had some fun and pretended that his ball was describing the ace and asked, “Ball, what happened?”
The ball’s response (as translated by Irwin): “Well, you hit a 6-iron and you really had to hit it well because it was at the outer limits and I flew over the bunker but just a little short of the green — — about a foot — because that’s where it’s a little softer. I didn’t know that at the time. I bounced up on the green and I rolled right into the hole.”
• If you don’t think pin placements are critical, consider this:
The story goes that a fellow went to late Sahalee pro Rick Acton and said he wanted to hold a tournament at Sahalee.
Acton said, “OK, what do you want the winning score to be?”
• ESPN sportscaster Kenny Mayne grew up in Kent and took special delight in getting the name of his friend, Noel Sansaver, into the Seattle newspapers when Sansaver visited from Montana.
Mayne recalled in his book “An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport” that during his college years he would call either one of the Seattle papers and “put on my old guy who works in a pro shop voice.”
Mayne would proceed to say, “Noel Sansaver aced No. 14. He was using a 9-iron, 128 yards. We’re real happy for the young man.”
The newspapers lacked manpower to double-check such things and printed it.
• Dave Covey, a former University of Washington rower who is a member of the Tacoma Country and Golf Club, is better known for his work supporting the Husky Coaches Tour, not his golf. But he has had a few memorable shots.
One day, he was playing a match at Twin Lakes Country Club in Federal Way when he launched one of his all-time out-of-bounds slices.
When he put another ball in play and marched up the fairway, a homeowner was there to greet him. His playing partners thought, “Oh, no, Covey’s broken this guy’s window.”
But the fellow had a different message. “I’ve had balls land in my back yard,but never have had one clear the house and the street,” the homeowner said. “There’s no damage. I just wanted to come out and meet the guy who hit it.”
• Tacoma golfer Ken Still was playing in a PGA Tour event in Memphis in the 1960s and got hot in the final round. “I was 7 under after 16 holes,” Still said. “My mind was saying ‘birdie-eagle’ for the last two holes. But just before I’m about to hit my tee shot on 17, my caddie says, ‘Make sure you don’t bogey this hole.’ “
Negative talk is exactly what a golfer doesn’t need or want from a caddie. Sure enough, Still bogeyed the 17th. The caddie was local looper from Memphis and Still make sure he never used him again.
• Jack Parker, 11, of Bellevue played in the WJGA District 2 tournament at Plateau Country Club on the Sammamish Plateau in 2006 and friendly rules official Ed Lockner asked him how his round had gone.
“Not too well,” he replied. “I took a 21 on hole No. 6.” The sixth hole is a tough par-3 over water with a narrow green and bunkers. Lockner expressed sympathy but Parker just said, “That’s OK. I’ll do better tomorrow.” The next day, Parker came running up to Lockner and said, “Mr. Lockner. I did better. I made it over the hazard on my first shot and chipped in for a two.”
The youngster had gone from 21 to 2 — a 19-stroke improvement! Lockner wrote in the WSJA newsletter that “this has to be a not only a record for Washington Junior Golf Association but most likely for any junior golf tournament. It once again proves that keeping a good attitude in adversity can make all the difference. It did for Jack.”
• The 2007 Boeing Classic produced a seven-man playoff that still ranks as the largest among any three of the PGA Tours — the Champions Tour, Web.com and regular tour.
I remember going to the locker room to talk to 2005 champion David Eger as the final holes of regulation were being played.
Eger poured a beer then looked at the TV and saw that to his surprise he might be in the playoff. He looked at the TV, then looked at the beer and repeated this a couple times.
Finally, he shoved the beer aside. Thirty minutes later he was in the playoff, which Denis Watson won.
I remember Watson winning but my favorite memory of the tournament was Eger staring wistfully at that beer.
• When JoAnne Carner was a teenager in Kirkland, she used to hunt for golf balls at the now-defunct Juanita Golf Course.
One day a foursome heard noises off a wooded hole and one golfer turned to the other and said, “There’s a deer in there.”
One of the co-owners of the course was in the foursome and spotted JoAnne.
“That’s not a deer,” he said. “That’s the state champion.”
Some of Carner’s favorite memories were of nights on the Juanita course, where as many as 10 kids would play.
“We played a lot of moonlight golf,” she told me. “When the moon was in your face, you had to tell by feel whether the ball hooked or sliced. It was wonderful training.”
Craig Smith was the longtime golf reporter for The Seattle Times and is now a freelancer.