Everyone has some one person or event that got them started playing golf. Whether it was a family member, friend or just watching a telecast of some golf tournament, we got started in this crazy game. My life altering experience happened when I was twelve years old at the 1962 Los Angeles Open at Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles, California.
At that time all I had was a putter and three used and abused golf balls that I would putt into tin cans I buried in our front yard. That was the extent of my golf knowledge at the time. Anyway, a friend of our family came buy one night for dinner and saw me putting, and asked if I played golf. I told him that this was all I did. A few days later he gave my dad two tickets to the L.A. Open, and my dad asked me if I would like to go. I said sure, and we went.
Neither one of us knew anything about golf, and what you do at a golf tournament. Fortunately, the volunteers at the tournament were very helpful, and provided enough information, that we did not look like complete idiots. Dad asked who I wanted to watch, and at the time the only golfer that I recognized was Arnold Palmer. So we got our program and pairing sheet and found out when Mr. Palmer was due to tee off. As his tee time approached we started meandering to the first tee with a sea of other people (I would come to learn that this was ‘Arnie’s Army).
During those years Mr. Palmer was one of the few players that would sign autographs before the round. He was walking to the tee and signing autographs, and he saw a little munchkin stuck in the middle of all the big people, and he asked me if I would like to have his autograph. Naturally, I said yes and he signed my program. It was the last autograph he signed before going to the first tee that day. The munchkin was in seventh heaven.
We followed Mr. Palmer for as many holes as my Dad could take (he was pretty bored with the whole thing). Following Arnie that day was fantastic. The manner how he conducted himself, through the good shots and the bad, made want to be like him and follow in his footsteps in the great game of golf. Mr. Palmer inspired me that day to want to learn how to play and follow a career in golf. It was a couple of years later before I started to play, because we could not afford, clubs and green fees, but I never forgot the impression Mr. Palmer made on me that day. He instilled in me an appreciation for the game, which led me to Montebello Golf Course, and Jimmy A. Thompson, who developed the appreciation into a passion.
Thank you Mr. Palmer for such a wonderful introduction to the greatest game in the world, and for setting a great example for a young lad. Hopefully, I can do the same.
So, what or who made you start the game?