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When Pterodactyls Roamed the Golf Course

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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

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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

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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

That Jack Nicklaus Guy? He was Pretty Good

One of my recent book purchases was The Majors of Golf (affiliate link), a 3-volume encyclopedia compiled by Morgan G. Brenner. The books in the set list the full scores for every British Open, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Masters played through 2008. Then, Brenner lists every golfer who ever played in one of those majors, along with each golfer's finish in each major he played. It's all numbers, no text, no narrative, but it's comprehensive. It will also set you back around $100. But it's a great reference book and research tool. Not to mention a great browse. Which brings me to Jack Nicklaus. Browsing through The Majors of Golf today, I came across the Nicklaus entry. And I just wanted to share something that jumped out at me: Nicklaus' performance in majors from 1971-77. Nicklaus played in 28 majors in those seven years, and finished out side the Top 10 in exactly two of them: the 1972 PGA Championship and the 1976 U.S. Open. Nicklaus finished in si

Weiskopf's Great Story About ... PGA Tour Death Threats?

Did you know that there was a time in the 1970s when multiple PGA Tour tournaments were affected by death threats against golfers? Or by bomb threats called in anonymously? Thankfully, nothing ever came of the threats, but they caused real consternation and worry — and real police presences — at multiple events back then.

The More Things Change (Golf Advertising)

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Golf club advertising never changes. "Our new whiz-bang (material/process) will get you XX more yards!" Here’s an ad from 1916, with a name-check of Thomas Edison:

Latest Cool Coupling: Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke

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Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke are a couple. Which means Rickie no longer has to go stag to Team USA functions. You know who Allison Stokke is, don't you? Back in 2007, when she was a 17-year-old high school track and field athlete, some photos of her at a track meet were posted online. That's when the sports-slash-laddie blogosphere jumped into action: Dudes started noticing that Allison was pretty hot! Those track photos - she was a top high school pole vaulter - started showing up everywhere, and Allison, against her will, became a poster girl for sexy athletes-on-the-web. She went on to a college career as a pole vaulter at the University of California and later turned pro. When her pro vaulting career ended, Stokke started doing YouTube videos on vaulting technique and became a fitness model for, among other brands, Nike, Athleta and Uniqlo. She also began working with GoPro on her videos. And Rickie? It seems like only yesterday (it was 2014, actually) that we

Tania Tare's Beer Pong Trick Shots (and More Amazing Skills)

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How does a golf trick shot artist play beer pong? With her iron, her dribbling skills and a few golf balls, of course. This is New Zealand professional golfer Tania Tare showing off amazing hand-eye coordination skills, plus a keen sense of fun: Enjoy Tania's talents? Good, because here are 12 more terrific Tania Tare trick shots: