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Original Issue


The solitary, headless man shown here in a superlatively pertinent picture taken last week at the Pine Hollow course on Long Island, is the 1958 National Open Champion, Tommy (the Terrible-Tempered) Bolt. This into-the-woods tableau was caught shortly before the National Open Champion picked up his ball and quit the tournament. He had missed a birdie putt on the par 4 ninth, taken four peevish, careless swipes at the ball before sinking it for a 7. He said he was tired. Three days before, in a pro-amateur round, he had also abruptly picked up at the ninth green and stalked off the course, saying he was tired.

The PGA, with full knowledge of the fact that Tommy Bolt is 39, a veteran of the professional golf circuit and, indeed, a charter member of the PGA's Good Conduct Committee, fined him $500, and promised to think long and hard about maybe suspending him, even, between now and the PGA Championship Tournament at Havertown, Pa. in mid-July.

Now there are things that must be said about the well-known tensions of the game of golf; things every golfer knows, as to how it is a testy game even if you are not playing it to make a living. There is room enough in golf—there has to be—to rage against nature and misfortune like old King Lear on his heath.

But in Tommy Bolt's case we are tired, too. Tired of a decade of club-throwing, of short reformations ("See how sweet I've become," was the latest, when he won the U.S. Open a couple of weeks ago) and the subsequent reversions to the Terrible-Tempered Tommy.

After he won the Open a reporter quoted him: "Now that I'm the champion I can do as I please." The words sounded like the old Tommy, whether they were the exact words or not. Cary Middlecoff, who can speak on such subjects, ventured a remark. "He'll find out right quick," he said. Ed Furgol, who knows about being tired (SI, June 30), could have told him, too. More is expected of a champion than of anybody else; a champion has to be able to stand success—and to respect it.

Tommy Bolt, the new champion, seems to have the same old troubles as the Tommy Bolt everybody in golf has been making excuses for over a long time. The 60-day or 90-day suspension that the PGA is thinking of may help. We suggest a longer rustication. We think the PGA should order him to go on through the rough and into those trees until the U.S. Open next year. Then let him emerge and defend his right to be called a pro and a champion.