On a May morning some two weeks ago Arnold Palmer woke before 8, scanned a morning paper in bed, took breakfast, drove to the airport near Latrobe, Pa. and shuttled off in his Aero Commander for a golf date in Washington, D.C., 200 miles away. By 10 a.m. he was on the first tee of Congressional Country Club—ready to reconnoiter the course in the company of his old friend, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Golf Editor Alfred Wright.
Eighteen holes and a few hours later Arnie was back in Latrobe with a sharpened idea of the course that will test him and the rest of the country's finest golfers in next week's U.S. Open. And Al Wright was heading back to New York with a sharpened idea of how Palmer and others will play Congressional—and with the core of the analysis that begins on page 38 of this issue, Congressional: Where a Small Splash Will Cost Big Money. Palmer and Wright each learned something to his advantage from the excursion—and the readers for whom the trip was really planned will benefit, too. (Incidentally, Palmer's score is classified information, but Wright thinks it is okay to say that Palmer missed par by more than a stroke or two and had to pay up on a couple of Nassaus.)
Our story on the course is only one of several special features on the Open, all designed to help the reader understand one thing: that the U.S. Open is a different kind of golf tournament. Golf followers have been told this for years, but they probably have never had a chance to judge the truth of it from so many angles.
Artist Bernie Fuchs was dispatched to Brookline, Mass. a year ago. Once before he had painted spring golf for us—and his work was light and airy. This time we asked him to look for tension and trouble, those brooding twins of the Open. The result is our cover this week and the portfolio of paintings beginning on page 32. Just beyond, accompanying Wright's story, aerial color photographs show the striking hole that marks the end of this year's Open and another hole (10) which has one of the three ponds to be found on Congressional. A golfer need not look twice at these photographs to see the serious trouble they represent—holes that match the mood of every Open.
Ogden Nash joins us with some rhymed objurgations on the "two-ninths of an Open" the TV watcher is able to see. (But Nash sends word that, nonetheless, he will be watching on his own set again this year.) Finally, in a kind of golf story we have never seen before, Bil Gilbert, who has written for us on such sporting enthusiasms as falconry, hunting shrews in a swamp, exploring in Mexico and taking a canoe down a wild bit of water called the Smokehole, takes readers backstage at Congressional where the membership and tournament committees have been engrossed for 24 months in an effort to make the 1964 Open the biggest and the best. It was Gilbert's first look at such dedication. "The amateur hour of sports promotion," Gilbert calls it. "Surprisingly successful and sublime to behold." You can behold it with him beginning on page 78.
PALMER AND SI'S ALFRED WRIGHT