Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dan Jenkins on The Masters, Tiger and More

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
We’ve been hearing escalating rumors for the past couple weeks. Now we know the truth. Tiger will be in the hunt for The Masters. What better day to review a golf book? “Jenkins at the Majors” is a collection of stories by one of the sport’s great chroniclers, Dan Jenkins.

Read this book because:
1. Masters stories abound to get your blood pumping prior to Tiger’s return.
How about my namesake, “Slammin” Sam Snead, in 1954? “Among the sweltering crowd of 5,000, there were men who climbed trees and plumpish barefoot women,” Jenkins began a 1954 article. “… They all trudged in and around Augusta National’s pines and blossoms for three hours and 32 minutes to find out that perhaps Ben Hogan, the club maker, is not quite as good as Ben Hogan, the Bantam, Hawk Wee Icemon.” (Jenkins, 14)

Six years later, Arnold Palmer showed no mercy, Jenkins wrote. “When Arnold lifted the ball out of the cup, he may as well have been tearing [Ken] Venturi’s heart at the same time.” (35)

Palmer’s longtime adversary Jack Nicklaus set the precedent for Tiger in 1972. “Jack Nicklaus was a golfer playing against the record book, his own aspirations, immortality, eternity, the Grand Slam, his private ambitions, and even his own embarrassments.” (97) Sound familiar?

2. Every year from 1951 to 2008, Jenkins has it covered.
“Most of the week, the 1978 Masters sat quietly and drearily under peculiar clouds of pollen that turned everything from golf shoes to rental cars into the color of oatmeal,” Jenkins penned. “But … at the finish jaws dropped and eyes widened as Gary Player leaped out of an antique photo album to win.” (131)

Bernhard Langer earned his green jacket fitting in 1985. “How many times do you have to be reminded that the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine Sunday?” Jenkins asked. “Arnie’s charge was born back there. Sarazen double-eagled back there. And this time in the spring of 1985, Curtis Strange went back there with a four-stroke lead and, before he could get back up the hill to the umbrellas on the Augusta National veranda, he was nursing a two-stroke loss to – Gott in Himmel!-Bernhard Langer, the son of a Bavarian laborer.” (164)

3. Did I mention Tiger? Take a look at Jenkins’ writings on Woods’ golfing exploits, and you may be ready for the roar again.

After Tiger’s 12-stroke victory in 1997, Jenkins couldn’t help himself. “Going into the last 18 on Sunday, the nearest thing to Tiger on the scoreboard was Constantino Rocca, which contrary to reports, was not a forbidden dance. It was a man from Italy nine strokes back.” (223)

Of Tiger’s “slam” culminating in 2001, Jenkins found himself at a loss for words. “My efforts resulted in: Phi Granda Slamma. Thai Slamma Granda. The Tiger Slam. Four for the Road. The Mulligan Slam.” (251-2)

Will writers again fall over themselves (and rightly so) over Tiger’s dominance? Circle April 5-11 on your calendar. If you forget, I’m sure there will be incessant reminders before this year’s Masters (sponsored by companies banking on Tiger’s return to greatness.)

Meantime, if the weather’s still iffy where you are, get your hands on Dan Jenkins’ top-flight bucket of stories.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

1 comment:

  1. What a job! I would love to get paid to attend the Masters every year.


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