Karsten Solheim (Part 1)

Karsten Solheim was born in Norway in 1911. His family emigrated to the U.S. in 1913 and settled in Seattle, Washington. (That’s where I was later born and reared.) Karsten’s dad was a shoe repairman. Karsten’s first job was working for his father soling shoes. But that didn’t seem to satisfy his inquisitive mind, so he soon quit. Surprisingly, he eventually started selling pots and pans door-to-door in Seattle. However, Karsten really wanted to be a mechanical engineer. So, he enrolled one year … [Read more...]

Inventing a Better Golf Club (Part 3)

In late 1969 I told Karsten Solheim, otherwise known as MISTER PING, “I don’t think you’re using perimeter weighting in the golf club that would benefit from it the most.” He said, “what’s that?” I said, “the driver. It has the lightest club head and the longest shaft of any club in the bag. So, it produces more off center hits.” (This was decades before the long putter. And club heads are made lighter with longer shafts in order to have a uniform “swing weight” throughout the entire set of clubs … [Read more...]

Inventing a Better Golf Club (Part 2)

I met Karsten Solheim my first year on the PGA Tour—in 1964. I was taking a week’s break from the Tour by playing in the Arizona State Open golf tournament, which I eventually won. My closest friend and previous teammate and roommate at the University of Houston—Babe Hiskey—took me and other PGA Tour player Al Kelly to Karsten’s house in Scottsdale, Arizona, to meet him. It was quite an experience, and it was the beginning of many more I had with Karsten and his lovely wife, Louise. Despite Karst … [Read more...]

Inventing a Better Golf Club (Part 1)

It was an exciting U.S. Open finish at Merion Golf Club two weeks ago. The Englishman Justin Rose, after having contended in several of the four majors, finally won his first major championship. He defeated crowd favorite and best left-hander to ever grace the fairways—American Phil Mickelson. Amazingly, it was Phil’s unprecedented sixth runner-up finish in the U.S. Open without ever having won that tournament. So far, Phil has won 4 majors--three Masters and one PGA Championship--and 41 PGA Tour … [Read more...]

Bert Yancey (Part 2)

After the incident in Japan, similar episodes of manic depression followed much more regularly in Bert Yancey’s life. The one most well known occurred in New York City. It was at the 1975 Westchester Classic. Yancey was paired with his best friend on the Tour and an outstanding player—Tom Weiskopf. Tom was very sensitive to Bert’s psychological condition. But Weiskopf was known for having a short fuse himself. Yancey said some things on the course that upset Weiskopf immeasurably, things that Tom … [Read more...]

Bert Yancey (Part 1)

Part 1 Private first class Kermit M. Zarley Jr. was discharged from the U.S. Army in the spring of 1964. (I still remember my dog tag #: ER18667197.) I had played only two rounds of golf during the past six months of active duty. That didn’t exactly prepare me for the new kind of battle I was about to undertake. I quickly exchanged my black, shiny, lace-up army boots for some colored, golf shoes with metal spikes on the soles. And my green, Army fatigues would now become history. At that time, I … [Read more...]

Ken Venturi Dies at Age 82

PGA Tour professional golfer Ken Venturi died Friday, May 17, 2013, in a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 82 years old. Ken had been suffering with various health problems in recent years. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame only days earlier, though he could not attend.Ken Venturi was one the greatest professional golfers during his days on the American PGA Tour. Six feet tall, slender, handsome, and affable, Venturi had one of the best golf swings I have ever … [Read more...]

The Beloved Champagne Tony Lema

The worst tragedy to strike the PGA Tour during the fifty years between the 1949 Ben Hogan bus crash and the 1999 fatal Payne Stewart airplane tragedy was the 1966 fatal plane crash involving Tony Lema and his wife Betty. Tony had just finished his last round in the PGA Championship at Akron, Ohio. He and Betty were flying in a chartered, small, single-engine airplane to Chicago’s O’Hare airport when the pilot either encountered engine trouble or ran out of fuel.  He tried to ditch the plane on a … [Read more...]


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