When Bob Goalby won the Greater Greensboro Open last April 13th, he not only earned $2,000 for himself but also graduated from the Buck Private, or Dawn, Brigade. A predominantly youthful and hungry group, the Brigade is composed of the vast, unknown brood who play the professional golf circuit every week with virtually no recognition of their presence. They gain perhaps a little polish, a lot of experience but almost no money whatsoever. There are about 50 permanent members of this not too select circle. Known also as "rabbits" or "enlisted men" or "dew sweepers" or "plainclothesmen," they constitute about half of the population of the professional caravan. In becoming a winner at Greensboro, Goalby, while reflecting great credit on the abilities of the Brigade, was automatically shorn of his buttons and rucksack.
Life for these enlisted men is a pretty rigorous affair, calling for a 40-week course of travel which covers some 25,000 miles. The prospering name golfers, like Ford and Middlecoff and Demaret, take the sting out of this arduous program by sometimes hopping from one tournament to the next by airplane and staying at the most comfortable (and therefore most expensive) hotels and motels. The enlisted men, however, not winning nearly enough to meet expenses, must post a sensible and thrifty watch on the budget.
Fairly typical of the living routine followed by most members of the Brigade is that of John McMullin and Jerry Magee, who often travel together. They trek from city to city in McMullin's overluggaged Ford station wagon, staying at motels where the charge is only $7 to $9 a night for two people, and eating where they can get adequate, nourishing food at a reasonable price. In this manner they manage to keep their weekly costs within the $130 to $150 range. This may seem like stylish living to some, but concealed in this over-all figure is the weekly tournament entry fee of from $20 to $55, plus caddie fees which will mean an additional weekly outlay of $35 minimum.
Champion corner-cutter of them all is probably Pete Mazur, a 42-year-old former driving-range instructor from Tonawanda, N.Y., who travels with his wife. Pete has developed the fine art of tour living to the point where it costs the Mazurs only $40 a week for food and $18 a week for lodging. Mazur buys a newspaper as soon as he arrives in a tournament city and makes a quick check of the more attractive "rooms to rent" ads.
Life for 27-year-old Bob Goalby, who used to play quarterback at the University of Illinois and who left a good pro job at Wee Burn only last December to go on the tour, has really undergone very little change. He no longer has to play the agonizing qualifying rounds required for players not previously qualified and which serve to whittle down the large number of entrants in the winter tour and at several summer events. Next year Bob can also obtain a more satisfactory contract with a sporting goods manufacturer. But for the present he still travels with his old crowd, continuing to live the way they do. A fine player, however, Goalby is undoubtedly on the way up to the big time-which is the hope and dream of every Buck Private.
If anything, Goalby's first tournament victory had an unsettling effect on him. "I think I expected too much from myself," says Goalby, who was such an aggressive athlete in high school that he once fouled out of 14 basketball games in a row. "I concentrated too much on scoring and not enough on shotmaking. As a result, I won money in only two of my next nine tournaments.
"But I regained the touch at Akron, where I finished third," he continues, "and have learned that you can't force good scores and you can't care what the galleryites think. After I won at Greensboro, I became so gallery-conscious that I was afraid that if I missed a shot, even in practice, people would ask: 'How did he ever win a tournament?' "
GOALBY WAS PROMOTED AT GREENSBORO