The loud sound of silence – Editor’s Letter

Jerry Tarde

EVERY YEAR AT MASTERS TIME, WE PRIMAdonnas who put out this magazine forgo room service and Marriott points to live in one big, rambunctious house, where Dan Jenkins serves honey-baked ham 24 hours a day.

Every notable writer in town shows up at the kitchen table to place golf bets and listen to Tom Callahan’s stories. Into this environment, we inject one special guest on the pretext of writing something for Golf Digest. When George Plimpton once let slip that he had never been to the Masters–imagine that, The Bogey Man never at Augusta!–he became our guest the next year.

His assignment was simple: talk to some green jackets, see if you can get an application to join the club. Even Hootie’s withering look did not deter George from his quest for membership. Everything about the place captivated him–“My, even the sandwich wrappers are green,” he said, folding up one and stuffing it in his pocket.

His roommate, Senior Writer Guy Yocom, recalls that 2000 Masters, when the two of them stayed up every night confounding each other: “George was awed by the sound of the irons whacking the ball, how it was distorted when it echoed off the pines, and how long it took for the sound to reach him. He would count off the seconds and exclaim, ‘There! That one took three seconds!’ Then, during our long conversations at night, he would reflect back on the sound and compare it to other remarkable sound events–the gunfire when Robert Kennedy was assassinated and how he was confused by its source. The laugh of his actor friend Fred Gwynn, who sounded just like the character he played, Herman Munster. John Kennedy, he said, had a knack for emitting an especially loud sound with his hands when he applauded.”

Plimpton wrote a memorable piece the following April, his last appearance in Golf Digest before his death at age 76 in September. His knack was for brilliance in brevity, and always with an elegant delivery. My favorite was his view of sportswriting: “The smaller the ball, the better the literature,” he said succinctly. It was definitely Augusta’s loss that they never took him in as a member.

The last time we saw Plimpton, he was ambling down the hallway to his bedroom at the end of one of those long Augusta nights. The final words heard were Yocom’s: “Tell me, George,” he said, “do you believe in the supernatural?”

Jerry Tarde, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief

My top 5 TV golf commentators

1. Henry Longhurst

2. Johnny Miller

3. Peter Alliss

4. Dave Marr

5.(Need help here)

Best Tip

‘When you start your backswing, turn your left shourlder and arm in unison, as if someone had glued them together under your armpit.’

Scott Davenport, page 95


To Vijay Singh, for making single-digit gestures toward Brandel Chamblee at a tour-stop restaurant in September. Chamblee had disagreed with Singh’s opposition to Annika Sorenstam’s play at Colonial in May.

COPYRIGHT 2003 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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