Golf Equipment You Could Buy from the 1977 Sears Catalog

A recent story about the demise of Sears reminded me of the old days of receiving the Sears catalog in the mail. As a kid, I loved flipping through its pages. If only I (or my parents) had kept some of those, they'd probably be collectors' items now. I wonder what kind of golf equipment Sears was selling back in the day ... Then I acquired a 1977 Sears catalog, driven by nostalgia. That recent story about Sears was about how the retail chain, once the largest and one of the most successful companies in America, was down to just 35 remaining stores. So I found a place to order an old Sears catalog. And what do we find in the way of golf equipment? At Sears, in 1977, it was all about the Johnny Miller-branded clubs and balls made by Wilson (click to enlarge photos in this post): Those irons would probably qualify as "players irons" today, but in 1977 they were definitely game-improvement clubs. You can tell by the cast method of manufacture, and the touting of t

Johnny Farrell Teaches (Condescendingly) Women to Play Golf

In golf, "old-school" instruction for women often means "condescending." But don't blame Johnny Farrell, the pro golfer who is doing the instructing in the following film (in two, short parts). He is probably just reading a script written for him. Farrell was the 1928 U.S. Open champion. This film was made in 1931. The woman who appears with Farrell is a Connecticut socialite named Catherine Hush. Later in 1931, Farrell and Hush got married. Part 1: Part 2: The Farrell-Hush wedding announcement appearaed in the New York Times. Note near the bottom it stays that the couple will be honeymooning in Hawaii, where they will be joined by Gene Sarazen and his wife.

Former Women's British Open Champ on 'The Chase' Game Show

Who is Penny Grice-Whittaker? On October 8, 2021, she was a contestant on the British game show The Chase . But in an earlier time of her life, Grice-Whittaker was a professional golfer. And she won some significant tournaments, including the Women's British Open. Grice-Whittaker added her name to the list of Women's British Open winners in 1991, when the tournament was known as the Ladies British Open. Unfortunately for Grice-Whittaker, her greatest win didn't come with the greatest timing. Today, the Women's British Open is one of the major championships of the LPGA Tour. But in 1991, not only was the Ladies British Open not counted as a major, it wasn't even counted as an LPGA Tour win. So while Grice-Whittaker won the biggest tournament title available in British golf at the time, she is not credited for an LPGA win, and she is not counted as a major championship winner. (The LPGA Tour only recognized the Ladies British Open beginning in 1994, and it did n

The Ideal Golf Course for Women (In 1904)

Genevieve Hecker was an early American golf champ. She won the U.S. Women's Amateur twice in the first decade of that tour's existence, her titles coming in 1901 and 1902. Hecker also wrote the first instruction book for women golfers, Golf For Women , published in 1904. There's a chart in that book that says a lot about the state of women's golf at that time. Hecker described what she called her ideal golf course for women, listing 18 holes, yardages for each, and the clubs she would use to play that hole. She didn't list each hole's par, but we can tell what that would be based on the number of strokes she saw herself needing to play the hole. This is that chart: The first hole she lists as 365 yards, but she expects to need five strokes to play. We would call that a par-5 today, but such terms didn't yet exist in 1904. Hecker, by the way, was known as a fairly long driver of the ball, not the longest of her era, but someone who hit her drives

2 Aces in the Same Round, and Didn't Even Win

There are few thrills in golf as exciting as making a hole-in-one. But here's a thrill that is much bigger: Making two aces in the same round. What could put a damper on the buzz from doing that ? Losing, that's what. Take, for example, Ray Maguire. In sectional qualifying for the 1949 U.S. Open, Maguire made two aces in the same round. In the second round, at Plum Hollow Golf Club in Detroit, Maguire aced the fifth hole, and later aced the 14th hole. But he failed to qualify for the U.S. Open. But if you think that's a sad story, here's an ever sadder one. In 1933 a golfer named Eric Fiddian, who had previously won the English Amateur Championship, reached the championship match of the Irish Open Amateur. His opponent was Jack McLean. During the morning 18, Fiddian made a hole-in-one. In the afternoon 18, he made another one. And he still lost, 3-and-2.

When Pterodactyls Roamed the Golf Course

What do golfers call a score of 3-under par on a single hole (scoring 2 on a par-5, for example)? We call that either a double eagle (in the United States) or an albatross (most other places). But that wasn't always true. In fact, there was a time in golf when such a score was so rare there was no generally accepted, broadly used term for it. But one word that was used for that score was "pterodactyl." A pamphlet published in 1922 in the United States included definitions of scoring terms, including the common-by-that-time birdie and eagle. And it also included pterodactyl, which it defined as "a hole made in three strokes under par. This would be where a second shot with a brassie was holed out on a par 5 hole. It is rare enough to warrant the name." How common was pterodactyl as a golf term? Not very, it appears. A quick check of our usual sources for historical golf research did not turn up a single other use of it. Which doesn't mea

The False Death Report ... Before the Real One

Pamela Barton was, in the 1930s, the winner of the British Ladies Amateur twice, the U.S. Women's Amateur and French Ladies Amateur once each. Enid Wilson was the winner of three consecutive British Ladies Amateurs. When World War II broke out, both women signed up to serve in their country's defense. They joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. And in 1943, rumors reached American golf circles that Barton had been killed and Wilson had lost an eye in air raids. The October 1943 issue of the American magazine Golfdom (still published today as the trade magazine of golf course superintendents) corrected the record: So, good news! Neither was hurt. Wilson's competitive career was over — she had retired after completing her trifecta in the mid-1930s. But Barton was only 26 years old in 1943. She conceivably had some years as one of the world's best women golfers left. Unfortunately, the next time reports of Barton's death during wartime reached America, th

Billy Casper's Other Great Come-from-Behind Win

Most serious golf fans know that Billy Casper came from seven shots back of Arnold Palmer with nine holes to play in the 1966 U.S. Open to win the tournament in a playoff. But that's not the only remarkable come-from-behind win for Casper. No, he once caught Lee Trevino after trailing by six strokes with just three holes to play. The tournament was the 1969 Alcan Open played at Portland Golf Club in Oregon. With nine holes to go, Casper was five strokes off the lead of Trevino, who, at that time (1968-71 era), was at the peak of his own great game. On the 15th hole, Casper sank a 20-foot birdie putt. Yet, he was actually farther behind the he was with nine to play. Now, with only three holes to go, Casper was six shots off Trevino's lead. How did Casper make up that difference? As with any such lead that disappears, he had to play well himself and get some help from Trevino. Casper made birdies putts on each of the final three holes. Trevino, meanwhile, bogey

When Women Playing Golf in Shorts Was Controversial

A story recently hit about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the recently deceased Rush Limbaugh, a story involving Michelle Wie's panties. Or, rather, what those two creepy old dudes thought were Wie's panties. Long story short: Those two creeps were following Wie around a golf course because they thought they were getting a look up her skirt. In reality, Michelle wasn't exposing anything other than a pair of shorts underneath her skirt. She was wearing a skort, in other words, and the creepy old guys were getting their jollies imagining they were seeing something else. Creepy old guys have always been part of golf and, alas, likely always will be. Men have long, in every walk of life, tried (often successfully) to be the arbiters of what women can or can't wear. I ran across the Giuliani-Wie story just about the same time I ran across the story below, a story that appeared in the USGA Green Section Journal in the late 1950s. The short story is

Sam Snead's 'Shawndale' Term for a Fade or Slice

Have you ever heard the word "shawndale" used for a fade or a slice in golf? I hadn't either, until I stumbled across an old newspaper article that quoted Sam Snead using the term. This is how Snead was quoted, with the parenthetical appearing in the original article and provided by the article's author: "I hit a great drive," Snead said. "But I still didn't have a clear shot to the pin because of that big sycamore tree out there. So I hit me a shawndale up there (a shawndale was a fade) and hit it off the hill and onto the green about 12 feet away." Shawndale? What the heck is that? It's a small thing, but it really bugged me not knowing this term, not being able to find any other example of any other golfer, anywhere, using it. But today I have the answer. The word Snead was using wasn't "shawndale," but "chondelle." Whether Sam knew how to spell it or not is another question (the article reporter clearly di