Golf writer Andy Reistetter attended his third straight World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Weekend and came away once again with insight, inspiration and indelible impressions. Hopefully, you had a chance to attend in person or watch on Golf Channel. If not than join Reistetter and enjoy the highlights of a fantastic Induction Class that is pure class.
All five members of the Class of 2012—Dan Jenkins, Sandy Lyle, Hollis Stacy, Peter Alliss and Phil Mickelson—went into the Hall of Fame together but it seemed like there were two different classes; both good and honorable. The same notion must have been in the minds of the World Golf Hall of Fame staffers as the five inductees were grouped in a threesome and a twosome for the afternoon media interviews.
The two pedigrees were those that played the game at the highest level and those that brought that playing to us in terms of writing and television broadcasting for the last six decades.
Lyle, Stacy and Mickelson were elite amateur golfers that went on to win celebrated professional tournaments. Lyle won the Brabazon Trophy (sort of England's equivalent of the U.S. Amateur but all stroke play) and went on to win the 1985 Open at Royal St. George's, the 1987 PLAYERS Championship and the 1988 Masters. Stacy won three consecutive U.S. Girls Juniors before going on to win three U.S. Women's Opens and another LPGA major at the time in 1983—the Peter Jackson Classic.
Mickelson at age 20 won a professional event as an amateur and at age 41 is still a competitive factor on tour with four majors—three Masters and the 2005 PGA at Baltusrol.
While Hollis sat between Sandy and Phil in the afternoon session and referred to herself as "the door between two roses," she really is the third rose of the group.
The Hall of Famers spoke of their induction being "about the journey and the process and not the destination."
Phil recalled the inspiration of fellow Hall of Famer Seve Ballesteros, who died almost exactly one year ago. Hollis verbalized what family means to her and spoke of the vivacity of her presenter and little sister Martha. Sandy admitted his game has gone south since his prime in the 1980s and spoke of being happy that he can stop in the Hall of Fame for the rest of time.
If there was one thorny (and funny) moment it was when Sandy told the story of getting a call from George O'Grady, the CEO of the European Tour. His immediate thought was that he said something wrong about something. "I thought, not Monty again." Once Jack Peter, the CEO of the World Golf Hall of Fame came on the line, the man never selected to be a European Ryder Cup Captain knew he was to receive the highest honor in all of golf.
Jenkins and Alliss did play golf but that was not the determining factor as they were selected via the Lifetime Achievement category.
Jenkins came from a golfing family, began playing at age eight and was a scratch golfer for Texas Christian University (TCU) in his hometown of Fort Worth. Alliss came from a professional golfing family—his father Percy finished in the Top-10 of the Open Championship 10 times and played on four Ryder Cup teams. Peter followed in his father's footsteps and had five Open Top-10s and played on eight Ryder Cup teams. Together they were the first father and son pair to play in the Ryder Cup.
Jenkins is only the third pure golf writer out of the 141 members in the Hall of Fame.
He followed Bernard Darwin who was inducted in 2005 and Hebert Warren Wind in 2008. Both of their inductions were posthumously—Darwin's only three years after his death. "I am flattered, delighted and stunned, but I will take it," Jenkins told me at the Masters. "They got a live one. I thought you had to be dead to get in." Hence, Jenkins made a reference to being thankful to be "a vertical human being" early in his acceptance speech.
There are 73 living members. The youngest is Se Ri Pak at age 34; the oldest is Ken Nagle at age 91.
As golf writer O.B. Keeler covered Bobby Jones, so did Dan Jenkins cover Ben Hogan.
He was in the right place at the right time.
He grew up where Hogan and Byron Nelson grew up. Born right after the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression, Jenkins, being a smart aleck, would rewrite WWII stories on an old typewriter his aunt found in the attic. When he graduated high school he knew that he wanted to be a sportswriter and went to work for the local paper. By the time he graduated from TCU he had the job full time and was there to cover Ben Hogan all through the 1950s.
"(Hogan) had more to do with my career than anything, got me covering the majors in 1951. He was great to me. Nothing but great to me," said the man who has covered 210 majors and still counting. He played golf with Hogan 40 times. "I'd go out to watch him practice (at Shady Oaks), and he'd say let's go." Hogan would typically shoot 67 to Jenkins 75.
Jenkins told me that he never thought Hogan was the same player after his playoff loss to Sam Snead in the 1954 Masters. "Ben Hogan, the club maker has more on his mind than Ben Hogan the golfer and wasn't quite what he was."
After Hogan won three majors in 1953 he started the Ben Hogan Golf Company. Instead of just focusing on beating the golf course and trying to win, he now had to think about how to turn making golf clubs into a financial success. As Trevino pointed out, when something else is on your mind, that could be the difference between winning and losing.
I guess Dan Jenkins never stopped being a smart aleck—and thankfully for us, as he brought us The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate and Dead Solid Perfect.
Perhaps the terminology should be "smart alliss" going forward because Peter Alliss stole the show with tales that took us back to another generation or two. We all love his English accent and phraseology:
"I stopped playing sensibly in 1974."
"My father was a golf professional and I followed on."
When you are 81 years old, you tell it like it is, whether it is your thoughts on Tiger Woods, or a salutation to an old teacher (Mrs. Weymouth) at the end of the night. I do wonder if Commissioner Tim Finchem will ever have that conference on "conduct unbecoming if not for Alliss then for someone else."
After his unexpected remarks congratulating and thanking Phil Mickelson for uplifting the image of golf both on and off the golf course, I wondered what his words will be in four years for the next inductees who grace the same stage and occasion.
Yes there were two classes inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Now that I think about it, the best adjective for the entire Induction Class of 2012 is not "pure class." The word I would use to describe this class is "authentic."
Authenticity is good for the game of golf and all who seek its highest honor.
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Research and Broadcast Assistant for the major golf broadcast companies. He spends time on all four major American golf tours—the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.
Reistetter resides within a couple of miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his website www.GolfWriter59.com, on Facebook or by e-mailing him at AndyReistetter@gmail.com