Holes in one are, by their very nature, out of the ordinary, but this summer there have been some aces that can only be described as downright bizarre. In Schererville, Ind., for instance, Roland Richards, who was mowing the course, parked his tractor near the 4th tee to chat with some friends who were playing. He borrowed a six-iron, teed up, and hit a 140-yard shot into the hole, after which he thanked his friends, climbed on his tractor and went back to work.
That's one way to skip buying a round of drinks for everyone in the clubhouse, as tradition demands, but Gordon Barrett and Charles Klein came up with another. On the 172-yard 6th hole at the Columbus, Texas golf course, Barrett and Klein both hit good-looking shots into the blind green. When they came over the ridge, only one ball was visible. "There's one in the hole," their playing partner yelled. "What make are you playing?"
"Top Flite 1," they both replied.
Because there were no identifying marks on either ball, neither could claim the hole in one.
At the Quilchena Golf Club in Richmond, Vancouver, Ron Peterson and Barry Abraham approached the 155-yard 13th hole. It was Peterson's honor, and he took out a six-iron and knocked his ball into the hole. As reported in the Vancouver Province, "While he [Peterson] was still jumping up and down congratulating himself, Abraham selected the same iron and duplicated the feat." The odds on two players making consecutive holes in one are about 2 billion to 1. The third member of the threesome, facing odds of 90,071,134,505,408 to 1 for a third straight ace, choked and got a par-3.
But the strangest hole in one of the year occurred on the Manoir Richelieu Course in Murray Bay, Quebec. John Basaraba hit his tee shot six inches from the cup on the 165-yard 9th hole. As he and the other members of his foursome walked toward the green, a crow landed beside his ball, picked it up in its beak and dropped it into the hole. A hole in one? "No," says Basaraba. "According to the rules, it can't count as one because an outside agency was involved."
Oh, pooh! That was no agency. That was a crow making an eagle of a birdie.
NIX ON ASTERISKS
This is likely to be a banner year for record-breaking performances in the NFL. The reason, simply, is that there are two extra games on the schedule in which to break season records.
The league has announced that existing records will not be protected by an asterisk, as was Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in a 154-game season after Roger Maris hit 61 in 162 games. Precedent was set in 1961, when the NFL schedule expanded from 12 to 14 games without a proviso to accompany new records with asterisks. The league had established the 12-game schedule in 1947, and before that the number of games in a given season varied from nine to 16. NFL officials felt it was simpler just to keep one set of records.
The mark that would appear most vulnerable is O. J. Simpson's season rushing total of 2,003 yards, set in 1973. That year he averaged more than 143 yards a game. For a player to rush 2,004 yards over the new 16-game schedule, he would have to average 125.3 yards per game. Only three backs have ever averaged that much in a season. Jimmy Brown did it twice (1958, 1963), averaging 133.1 in his best year; Simpson twice (1973, 1975); and Walter Payton once (1977), when he averaged 132.3.
Among the other records that have stood the test of time are three remaining from the old 12-game schedule. Dick (Night Train) Lane had 14 interceptions with the Rams in 1952; Jack Christiansen returned four punts for touchdowns with Detroit in 1951 (his record was tied by Rick Upchurch of Denver in 1976); and Don Hutson of Green Bay (1942) and Elroy (Crazylegs) Hirsch of Los Angeles (1951) had 17 touchdown receptions, a record tied in a 14-game season by Houston's Bill Groman in 1961.
But the mark that seems virtually indestructible, no matter how many games are added to the schedule, is the one set in 1960 for most points in one season. Paul Hornung of the Packers scored 15 touchdowns and kicked 41 extra points and 15 field goals for an astounding 176 points in 12 games. Last season three NFL teams didn't score that many points in 14 games—including Green Bay, coached by the quarterback of Hornung's 1960 squad, Bart Starr.
Fishermen curse their slimy lines, and swimmers gingerly tread the beaches. The reason is that the waters off New York and Connecticut have been aswarm with stinging jellyfish in unprecedented numbers. The main villain is the Lion's Mane, a northern species that ordinarily abounds off Nova Scotia, where it floats bloblike with winds and currents, trailing poisonous tentacles that have been known to reach 50 feet in length. In The Adventure of the Lion's Mane, Sherlock Holmes remarked of the beast, "Cyanea capillata is the miscreant's full name, and [it] can be as dangerous to life, and far more painful, than the bite of the cobra."
Last week Dr. Jefferson Turner of the New York Ocean Science Laboratory at Montauk, Long Island, reported going through masses of Lion's Manes in Block Island Sound, some with bodies—or "bells"—the size of a catcher's mitt. Dr. Turner had first noticed something fishy back in June, when small Lion's Manes began appearing in New York waters about two months ahead of schedule. An adult lives only one season, about six months, but as long as it lives it grows—like the Blob—feeding mostly on other species of jellyfish.
But there are few things feeding on the Lion's Mane. In the Orient, people eat jellyfish, but in the Atlantic the only predators are giant ocean sunfish (Mola mola) and sea turtles. Inasmuch as jellyfish are mostly water, and at best 3% protein, it is suspected that their protein may contain some unknown growth stimulus, since the leatherback turtle, which can reach 1,500 pounds and is the heaviest reptile on earth, gorges itself on jellyfish. The loggerhead turtle apparently gets a high on the jellyfish called the Portuguese man-of-war. After chomping them down, loggerheads have bloodshot eyes and are oblivious to the approach of boats.
Dr. Ronald J. Larson, a visiting scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, is one of the few jellyfish specialists in the world. Says Larson, "The jellyfish problem is here to stay. It's because of what we've done to the ocean. Natural food chains have been upset, and so jellyfish are replacing 'more desirable' creatures that we can eat. The first place we're going to see jellyfish is in estuaries and inshore waters that take the heaviest load of pollution. Jellyfish are what nature has come up with to continue the energy flow." How do we combat them? "Maybe' we should raise turtles."
Finding him a nickname was a lot easier than finding him a football uniform. Freshman Vernon Broadnax is believed to be the largest player in college football. Only 18, he stands 6'6" and weighs 410 pounds, drip dry.
To accommodate Mt. Vernon's 56" waist, the Murray State (Ky.) trainer had to cut up two pairs of shorts, then sew them back together as one so that Broadnax would have something to wear in practice. His shoulder pads, helmet, pants and size-16 shoes all had to be specially ordered—not once, but twice—because Mt. Vernon, who is Murray State's starting right offensive tackle, grew over the summer. When Murray State signed Broadnax to his football scholarship, he weighed 360 pounds and was immediately put on a diet. "I didn't stick to it," Mt. Vernon said, and over the summer he put on 50 more pounds.
His coach, Mike Gottfried, says, "The first day he came in here, I told our trainer, I want his weight down right away.' We assigned a student manager to go to his room every night to make sure he ate nothing. The only way we could weigh him was to send him over in a van to shipping and receiving. He weighed 410 on the truck scales before we started practice. Ten days later, after two-a-day practices in 90° heat, we sent him back to shipping and receiving and he still weighed exactly 410."
Broadnax came in third in the Ohio high school wrestling championships as a senior at Xenia High, and he can bench press 325 pounds. When his specially made pants finally arrived they were "much, much too big," according to Broadnax—something his teammates have mentioned about Mt. Vernon himself during pileups. "Our offensive linemen are always concerned where he's going to fall," says his coach.
Nonetheless, nothing but greatness is anticipated for Mt. Vernon's career at Murray State. Says Gottfried, "He'll surely be one of the first guys in Murray history to get his uniform retired because there's not going to be anybody to wear it after he's gone, I'll guarantee you."
After a recent television interview, Yankee Coach Yogi Berra was given a check for $100. The check read, "Pay to Bearer." Yogi took a look at it and said to the interviewer, "Come on. You've known me long enough to know how to spell my name."
When the Sun Valley Ski Company announced this summer that it intended to hike the price of lift tickets for the fourth time in the last six years, a group of local skiers decided to fight. They called themselves the Skiflation Committee and collected about 2,200 names on a petition, which they presented to the U.S. Forest Service. The Forest Service owns a portion of the land—Mount Baldy—where the ski runs are, and it must approve all price increases. To date it has operated on the principle that ski areas are competitive and has let the Sun Valley Ski Company regulate itself. Skiflation, however, maintains that this has amounted to the sanctioning of price-fixing among Aspen, Vail and Sun Valley—all of which will charge $15 for a daily pass this season. Further, Skiflation has pointed out that while out-of-towners can choose which ski area to fly to, local residents are locked into Sun Valley, which they feel, for all practical purposes, has made the mountain a monopoly.
The Forest Service has responded by allowing some of the price hikes and blocking others. The end result is that the price of a daily lift ticket has been raised from $13 to $15 for a non-resident; from $6.50 to $8.50 for a resident paying a $100 fee; and from $525 to $550 for a season pass. A half-day ticket remains at $9—the price of a full-day ticket in 1973. All these prices are consistent with what is charged at most of the other major ski areas in the country, with the exception of the Salt Lake City area, where competition has kept daily lift tickets between Snowbird's $12 and Alta's $7.50, which is probably the best buy in the country. In the East, Stowe, as usual, is leading the way by charging $16 a day for the coming season, but as yet no Skiflation committees have surfaced to protest.
Earl Holding, the owner of Sun Valley, bristles at the very mention of Skiflation. He refuses to disclose his company's finances but claims that during the most recent 16-month period, its net profit after taxes was less than 1%, and it was all used for the $3 million worth of improvements on Mount Baldy. "The $8.50 we charge our local skiers is way below our cost," Holding says, "but they're the ones causing all the trouble. They say we're turning skiing into a rich man's sport. That's ludicrous. The price of a lift ticket is a bargain any way you look at it. If skiing is a rich man's sport, what is Disney World?"
For the record, Disney World is $10 for twelve adventures.
THEY SAID IT
•Bobby Murcer, Chicago Cubs right-fielder, after facing Phil Niekro, the Atlanta Braves' knuckleballer: "Trying to hit him is like trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks."
•Don Zimmer, Boston Red Sox manager, on his pitching this year, compared to last: "We don't have anybody like Rick Wise and Fergie Jenkins, who cried all the time, got the hell beat out of them and blamed me."