Robert Blumenthal at Balcomie Links; Crail, Scotland
I was walking north along West St. in Manhattan in April, 1993 when I noticed a decrepit pier surrounded by netting several hundred feet high. Beyond the netting was the Hudson River.
I walked to the pier and saw that it had been transformed into a rudimentary driving range. At this point in my life, I was 37 years old and had never hit a golf ball. The only thing I knew about golf was that Arnold Palmer had appeared in a Bob Hope movie, Call Me Bwana.
A Korean gentleman who was standing outside the metal hut that served as the office inquired if I wanted to “hit a bucket.”
“Why not?” I thought. I had just finished a slice of pizza and a black & white cookie and was walking my way uptown to my Chelsea rat hole — er, apartment. A little exercise would do me good. So the Korean gentleman showed me how to hold the club — a beat up 7-iron — gave me the balls, and told me to swing away.
Top, shank, whiff, pull, clunk, thud, etc. I couldn’t get the ball more than two inches off the ground. Then, on approximately the 30th ball, I hit the ball flush in the middle of the club face and watched it soar towards the river. I was hooked. I wanted to feel that feeling again. And again. I signed up for 10 lessons with the Korean gentleman who turned out to be the golf pro.
I then proceeded to read every golf instruction book and magazine, watch every video, study the PGA TOUR events on TV each weekend, and thoroughly immerse myself in the game.
All of the instruction tips screwed me up but good. Especially Sam Snead’s “hold the club as if you’re holding a live bird…” And I’d rate “hold the club as if you’re holding a tube of toothpaste…” a close second. I held the club very loosely and it was flopping around in my hands like a dead bird. Thanks, Sam.
After spending seven more years in NYC practicing my game by hitting plastic golf balls off the ceiling in my studio apartment, I met my lovely wife and we moved to North Carolina.
I played golf more frequently but never got better than a 15 handicap. But my love for the game and its traditions never wavered. I made the pilgrimage to Scotland, played wonderful links courses, and did the Swilcan Bridge pose thing.
Fast forward to the end of 2009 and I came up with the idea of www.GolfConversations.com. It occurred to me that the golf industry has many participants whose stories aren’t reported by the major golf media outlets. And because of space and time restrictions, the aforementioned outlets cannot go into depth with their subjects.
www.GolfConversations.com has no such restrictions. Thus, it strives to provide you with Uncommon Interviews from the World of Golf.
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