My first time – three golfers discuss their golfing experiences

David Gossett

Surprise win

My first tournament victory was at the Galloway Junior, a small tournament played at a municipal course in Memphis. I was 10 years old and had been playing a lot of baseball and not as much golf. But I wanted to enter this golf tournament even though I had to run over and play in the state baseball tournament later in the day.

That morning, I shot 39 for nine holes. It was a par-34 course. Well, I couldn’t believe it, but that was good enough to win. I was really excited about it, because baseball was such a big thing for me back then, and all of a sudden, I looked at golf a little differently. It was a big confidence boost. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I did and I played pretty well. It made me want to play more junior tournaments, compete more locally and start playing state tournaments.

The following year, thanks to this new enthusiasm for golf, I entered the Tennessee State Junior and won. It was another milestone. But I look back at that little tournament in Memphis as the start of it all. I hadn’t played many events before Galloway. That was really the first big one I’d ever played. It was nice to get that confidence so early, and I still have that little trophy. It’s tucked away in a box in the attic.

David Gossett

Golf Digest Playing Editor

Bad wager

My first chance at breaking 80 came at Paradise Pointe Golf Complex near Kansas City. I realized that if I could bogey the last two holes, I would shoot 79.

On the par-5 17th, I pulled my tee shot left, punched out to the fairway and then hit a lay-up shot. I was 80 yards from the pin and was getting ready to knock it on and make a two-putt bogey when I noticed a branch could deflect my shot if I used a pitching wedge. So I headed back to my bag for an 8-iron. My partner looked at me and said, “What are you doing?” I explained the branch situation, and he said, “You can’t hit that limb. I’ll give you five bucks if you hit that limb.”

With $5 on the line, I decided to play the wedge shot. I hit it crisply and looked up just in time to see my ball hit the branch and kick behind that tree. Four shots later, I was tapping in for a snowman (8). I then doubled the 18th for an 82. My buddy paid the five bucks right away. I’ll never throw a set of golf clubs, but I have thrown a crumpled $5 bill out of a car window while driving down the highway. Note to other golfers: Play your own game.

Alan Doan

Kansas City, Mo.

Sam I’m not

The recent passing of Sam Snead reminded me of a unique bond I believe only the two of us share: We both broke 60 for the first time on the same day.

Sam, of course, shot his 59 at the Greenbrier during the 1959 Sam Snead Festival. He was 46. Meanwhile, on the Blue Ridge Country Club course in Palmerton, Pa., I shot 59 … for nine holes. I was 15. The next day I read of Snead’s 59 in the paper and, with rare reflection for my tender age, realized the full magnitude of his accomplishment when I calculated how many of my 5s and 6s and 7s would have to turn into 2s, 3s and 4s. I couldn’t imagine what skill it would take to do that.

Well, Sam immediately became my No. 2 hero (no one could ever replace Mickey Mantle). I wore straw hats, watched Sam play every chance I got and tried to copy his swing. I am afraid, however, that my full from-the-heels, hellbent swing never had a chance of becoming a Snead classic. Nevertheless, I’ll miss him.

Stephen Kiss

Laurel, Md.

Remember your first time? Whether it was breaking 100, 90 or 80, we’d like to hear about it. Fax us at 203-371-2162 or send e-mail to This month we hear from PGA Tour player David Gossett and two readers.

COPYRIGHT 2002 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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