All together now: Awwwwwwwwwwwww!
Update: A couple years later, here are some newer photos:
In the latter half of his playing days, and up to the current day, Floyd's reputation is for steely-eyed dedication and concentration, a fierce front-runner, an intimidator, a clutch performer on the course, a straight-shooter on the straight-and-narrow off the course.
But in the first half of his career? He was a wild party animal whose nickname was "Pretty Boy," a hard drinker, a hard gambler, the co-owner of a go-go club in San Francisco.
And, according to many sources, the "manager" of an all-girl rock band that performed topless, called the Ladybirds. I bet Jack Nicklaus won't be bringing that up when he honors Floyd at The Memorial!
It was his wife, Maria, who finally tamed Floyd's wild ways and helped him turn his wasted 1960s into a great career in the 1970s and 1980s. Maria passed away about a year ago, and in December the Golf Channel's Randall Mell wrote a nice piece about their relationship that included this:
It was a remarkable whirlwind romance that staggered Ray's friends on Tour because Ray had built such a reputation as a playboy. Floyd owned a piece of a bar in San Francisco called Coke's. He sometimes played guitar on stage and was an investor in the Ladybirds, a topless band. He was probably more like Walter Hagen than Hagen actually was, but Floyd’s affinity for the nightlife didn’t serve his game well.
"I was in awe of being in the limelight in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago," Floyd said. “I had a heck of a time as a young bachelor, but I went through periods where I didn't apply myself.”
But knowledge of Floyd's part-ownership of Coke's club in 'Frisco and his role with the topless Ladybirds goes back much farther. It was well-known when he was on tour in the '60s, although the general golfing public might not have been aware. In a 1980 book, Peter Alliss wrote about Floyd's early days:
Golf came a poor second to nightlife. In the 1960s Floyd was quoted as saying that the color of his eyes was 'usually pretty red' and 'if there's anything better than women I don't know what it is.' Three or four in the morning was his bedtime ... Ray also had an unusual business on the side: he managed 'The Ladybirds,' who claimed to be the first topless band.
In 1998, Sports Illustrated ran an article about golfers carousing in San Francisco that included a stripper's recollection of Floyd:
Ask Floyd if it's hard to have a good time in San Francisco. Back in the late '60s and early '70s, when he was single, Floyd was a regular along the Broadway strip. He was part owner of a bar, Coke's, an investor in a topless girls band and one of Carol Doda's many admirers.
Doda, who is memorialized in Tom Wolfe's book The Pump House Gang because she was one of the first topless dancers to enlarge her breasts with silicone, remembers the scene well. 'I just knew him as Raymond Floyd,' she says. 'What did I know about golf? I never went out with him, if that's the next question. He was a bachelor having a great time.'
Doda runs a lingerie boutique on Union Street these days and sings in her band, Carol Doda and her Lucky Stiffs. From 1968 to '87, though, when she had a show at the Condor Club (it's a sports bar now), she was the top act on Broadway. To start the show, a piano, with Doda aboard dancing topless, would be slowly lowered from the ceiling. 'I did eight or nine shows a night,' Doda says. 'I felt like an elevator operator, I was going up and down so much. Raymond and the guys [she recalls Miller Barber and Bob Rosburg, among others] would come in, watch the show and then hang out and talk to me at the bar. That could go on for hours.'
After hours, there was golf. Doda says that her former manager Voss Boreta and the Tour pros would step out of the Condor Club and onto the toughest dogleg in San Francisco. 'They'd get up in the middle of Broadway at three or four in the morning and hit balls to Columbus Avenue,' she says.
The SI piece calls Floyd an "investor" in the topless girls band, not the manager of the Ladybirds, and I think that's the better description. It's highly doubtful Floyd was involved in the day-to-day management of the band, more likely that he simply put up some cash to help get them on the road and get them publicity. (He also booked them into his own Coke's club.)
Once the Ladybirds hit the road, however, generating publicity wasn't difficult. In the 1960s, women performing topless (regardless of what it was they were performing) was sure to generate controversy.
A newspaper article from Feb. 24, 1968, in the Windsor Star related the Ladybirds' visit to Toronto.
TORONTO - "It's fun," said Barbara Branch as the Ladybirds, billed as the world's first all-girl topless band, concluded a precedent-setting, two-week engagement in a Toronto nightclub.
"It's makes you feel so ... free," says Marcelle Mitchell.
It was a "a great, daredevil idea," says Robin Sherwood.
And Debbie Dayan, a girl in love, said: "When you're in love the whole world is topless."
That's how four bare-breasted musicians summed up their experiences.
When you're in love the whole world is topless. Ahhh, the '60s ...
Robin (the guitarist) explained the Ladybirds members were working as showgirls in San Francisco when their manager (no name given) came up with the topless gimmick. Marcelle (who played bass) told the newspaper she used to work for a foundation garment firm "before I found out how fantastic it is to play guitar bare-chested."
Another article in the Windsor paper explained that the band did a special preview for an inspector with the Toronto police in an attempt to quell any trouble with the morality squad. The inspector needed a special preview? I bet he did, I bet he did.
Things went fine in Toronto in 1968, but not everywhere. Booked at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas in 1967, the Ladybirds were thrown offstage by the head of the Las Vegas Musicians Union. The union boss declared the topless rockers indecent, an affront to the reputations of musicians, and declared the name of the band an insult to the President of the United States and the First Lady, Lyndon and Ladybird Johnson.
A 1968 article in the Los Angeles Times says the Ladybirds were ordered offstage in Mexico City and might sue in an attempt to get the wages they were promised.
One of the later dates at which the Ladybirds show up in newspaper archives is June 22, 1970. An ad that day in the Toledo Blade advertises a show by the Ladybirds. "They're entertainment plus they're terrific" the ad declares.
Perhaps it's just coincidence that Ray Floyd met his future wife Maria (whom he married in 1973) in the early '70s, which appears to be around the same time the Ladybirds disappeared.
The Ladybirds did cut a few records in their time together, and they appeared in a B-movie (or maybe it was a C-movie) in the late '60s. And yes, if you really want to see a photo of them topless, you can find a handful of publicity pics if you do a web search. Too bad they can't reunite and perform at Floyd's ceremony at The Memorial. Although I seriously doubt anyone would want the Ladybirds to go topless these days ...
The USGA just cut down a mole hill. Can they now get to the mountain? Which mountain? Driver, ball, slow play,access. You choose.— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) May 21, 2013
I use a 33inch putter so the anchor ban doesn't concern me BUT I have tried a long putter and it in no way was easier for me... Cont'd— Sara 'No H' Brown (@SaraBrownGolf) May 21, 2013
Glad the @usga is banning the anchored putting stroke.Should have done it decades ago.Never liked it. Should be implemented immediately— Kay Cockerill (@KayCockerill) May 21, 2013
how many lawsuits where there when they changed the grooves?? surely we just play by the rules?? any lawsuits when nfl change rules?— cameron percy (@cameronpercy1) May 21, 2013
DId they really ask the USGA if they're concerned about lawsuits this morning?It's an org made almost entirely of lawyers,so probably not...— Roberto Castro (@cicioCASTRO) May 21, 2013
If only 2-4% of worldwide golfers use anchored putters, why do they feel this is "bad" for the game?— Rich Beem (@beemerpga) May 21, 2013
Donald was awarded the MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), an honor bestowed upon civilians and service personnel for public service and other distinctions. The Englishman was noted for his work both on and off the golf course, having held the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings for a total of 55 weeks in addition to helping organizations like the First Tee raise millions of dollars for junior golf.
"I am truly honored to be awarded an MBE by her Majesty," Donald said in a released statement. "Both personally and professionally, 2011 and 2012 were very significant seasons for me and I'm touched that my accomplishments have been recognized in this way."Luke tweeted a photo of himself and his wife following the ceremony:
Even Bobby Jones complained. The sainted Jones once proposed that the Haskell ball be rolled back and replaced with ... gutties! But only among elite, tournament golfers - he also proposed bifurcating the rules, allowing everyday golfers to continue using the wonderful rubber-cored Haskells.
Don't believe me? Dateline August 13, 1927. Jones has just returned from Great Britain with dozens of gutta-percha balls in tow (gutties went out of fashion when the Haskell ball was invented in 1898; Haskells - wound-rubber balls that were essentially in use for another 90 years - flew significantly farther than gutties).
Pittsburgh Press reporter Jimmy Powers quoted Bobby Jones saying this, as he deplaned with his gutties:
"Modern golf is ruining every golf course in America. There has been a constant stretching of courses to cope with increased distances. That makes up a vicious circle. Championship caliber links once were 6,000 yards; then 6,500 yards; now they are close to 7,000 yards and, if it keeps up, may have to go to 7,500."
Well, Jones was certainly right about that. Jones continued:
"The premium is now on strength; it should be on skill! Golf has deteriorated to a drive-and-pitch proposition. ...
"The most skillful clubs in the bag are rusty with the too lively ball. My two favored shots are a long iron to the green and a spoon. How many times do I get a chance to use either in the course of a round? Not many. And what a kick there is in playing a long iron or a spoon up to within a few feet of the hole!
"What we lose in distancy with the 'gutty' ball we will make up in control."
One day after the Pittsburgh Press story, an article in the Aug. 13, 1927 Miami News explained that Jones' comments followed on the ideas of USGA president William Fownes, who was "looking for aid in his single-handed campaign to keep golf courses shorter by restricting the flight of the present-day golf ball."
"For years Mr. Fownes has been insisting that the present ... ball is entirely too lively; that it is ruining golf courses and taking from the game much of the skill that was formerly required with balls of the 'gutty' type. ..."
The article explained that Jones had just returned from Scotland with a bunch of gutties, which "in the event they play as well as he thinks they will, he will endorse whole-heartedly as the ball to be used in future championships."
Jones suggested bifurcating the rules, requiring pros and highly skilled amateurs to use the gutties, while the rest of the golf world kept playing Haskells:
"Let the majority of golfers keep their fun and their electric balls: I merely suggest that a saner brand be selected for the small-handicap players and stars in championships. And after all, what difference does it make whether you go around a course in 65 strokes with the present ball or 80 strokes with something restoring the balance between strength and skill?"
OK, I guess some things change: Jones' contention that it doesn't matter whether the field is shooting 65 or shooting 80 would get him kicked out of PGA Tour lockerrooms today. Today, the pros have to shoot low or their delicate psyches just can't handle the embarrassment. Witness the whining every year at the U.S. Open.
What became of Jones' testing of those gutties he brought back from Scotland? I've not yet found an article that addresses that. But we all know what really happened: Nothing. There was no golf-ball rollback in 1927 or any other year, not even when Bobby Jones himself was urging one.
Today, luminaries such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are favor of a rollback of golf ball technology, and the USGA has done some testing of possible "tournament balls." The next time a golf ball rollback happens will be the first time it happens.
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What do you think - will the PGA Digital Golf Academy attract paying customers? Count me as skeptical. I'm sure the content offered will be top-notch. But there are so many places on the Web - including all over YouTube - to find free golf tips, rules explainers and other videos, I'm doubtful that a fee-based golf video service will be very successful.
Along with the photo, she wrote this: "Looks a little different from the golf course and ski slopes ;) he looks good in a suit❤thx to Elie Saab @JimmyChooLtd and @armani #selfie #MET #ilovefashion"
In another tweet, Vonn gushed:
Had an amazing time at the MET. Thx to Anna Wintour and @vouge for styling me, & of course thx to my amazing man for being my date. Night :)— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) May 7, 2013
Back in the era of stymies, plays like this were common. But today, very rarely do you see a golfer using a wedge on the green. And when you do, it's typically from far away from the cup - get the ball up in the air, off the green, in order to remove a huge amount of break or avoid having to putt across fringe.
Almost never do you see golfers using wedge from as close to the hole as Sergio did here. There was a huge spike mark inches in front of his ball, so he just popped the ball over the chewed up area. Very creative, Sergio. Kudos for both the idea - and for making the "putt."