When the millionaires return to Kapalua, you know the golf year is over, and they did last week. There, in that Hawaiian paradise, they held their annual pineapple bake, known as the Isuzu Kapalua International, paid David Peoples $150,000 for winning it, and then stepped back to look at the season they had begotten.
What kind of year is it when Wayne Levi wins four golf tournaments and Seve Ballesteros zilch? When the most talked-about shot is a putt that lipped out? When the game's biggest newsmaker was a five handicapper named Hall Thompson, who probably wishes he had lipped up? It was a strangely memorable year, that's what kind of year it was, and it shakes out like this:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
Nick Faldo, by a royal mile. Faldo tore the Masters from Ray Floyd's grip, stomped Greg Norman flat as shortbread in the British Open and lipped out on the last hole of the U.S. Open, a 12-foot putt that would have forced a three-way playoff. Face it. If it comes down to Hale Irwin, Mike Donald and Faldo in a playoff, we bet Kansas on Faldo.
MYTH OF THE YEAR.
The Grand Slam. The real achievement in golf today is the Rare Pair, and Faldo is the first to do it since Tom Watson in 1982.
SPAM-BRAINED IDEA OF THE YEAR.
The new PGA Tour Player of the Year award, which is just Deane Beman's way of giving something to Don Pooley.
PGA TOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
O.K., if you were threatened with an Uzi and had to pick a Tour player of 1990, how could it not be Norman? He played in only 17 tournaments—half as many as some—won twice, led the Tour in money and won the Vardon Trophy. Wayne Levi? You want to pick the man who finished 78th in scoring?
ISSUE OF THE YEAR.
Racist remarks by Thompson, Shoal Creek founder and chairman, dragged the club and golf itself into the post-Civil Rights Era. The Tour, in an upset, reacted swiftly and justly, abandoning all tournament sites where minorities are barred from membership.
FOSSILS OF THE YEAR.
The memberships at Cypress Point on the Monterey Peninsula in California and Butler National near Chicago chose to pull their courses off the Tour next year rather than adopt the Tour's new membership rules.
FRIDAY OF THE YEAR.
David Frost's near-Geibergeresque 60 at Tucson.
SATURDAY OF THE YEAR.
Faldo's undressing of Norman at St. Andrews. The golf world expected Godzilla versus King Kong when the two were tied and paired that afternoon. But Faldo whipped Norman by nine shots and reminded everybody that the King Kong of the movies was really only 18 inches tall.
SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.
Norman played Doral in 65 for 19 holes—62 on the day, plus an eagle 3 on the playoff hole. He is still the most brilliant player in the world when he isn't trying too hard.
MONDAY OF THE YEAR.
Irwin's 67 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open gave him an impossible, high-fiving tie with Mike Donald. Nineteen playoff holes later, Irwin had his third Open win. At 45, he reminded us that the best thing about golf is that great players sometimes forget to fade away.
MEMBERSHIP DRIVE OF THE YEAR.
Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., signed up George Bush, Ronald Reagan, O.J. Simpson, Wayne Gretzky, Tom Selleck, Lee Majors, Robert Wagner and Sadaharu Oh.
RUT OF THE DECADE.
Calvin Peete led the Tour in driving accuracy for the 10th straight year. He also finished dead last in driving distance.
SPORT OF THE YEAR.
Steve Elkington, reading the paper the day after he finished 21st in the USF&G Classic, realized he had reported the wrong score and turned down his $10,000 check.
MONEY WINNER OF THE YEAR.
Ballesteros played like Kal Kan, missed the cut four of eight times on the U.S. Tour and, except for a tie for seventh at Augusta, was invisible in the majors. Luckily, he is married to Carmen Botín, the daughter of one of the richest men in Spain.
ANDROID OF THE YEAR.
Ben Crenshaw did not miss a putt inside 15 feet in the final round of his win at Colonial.
OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR.
Dr. Gil Morgan, 44, who won for the first time since 1983, at the Kemper Open, admitted he has never practiced optometry.
WRETCHEDLY STAR-CROSSED VICTIM OF THE YEAR.
Who else but Norman, who died at the hands of last-hole miracles by Robert Gamez (a seven-iron at Bay Hill) and Frost (a sand wedge at the USF&G)? Someday this man is going to go certifiable.
CHEEK OF THE YEAR.
Mark Calcavecchia showed up for the British Open past champions dinner at St. Andrews, a coat-and-tie affair, wearing golf clothes.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.
When Jose-Maria Olazabal won the World Series of Golf at Firestone Country Club, he was 12 shots ahead of the second-place finisher and 15 ahead of the third. That's a win that should count for two.
LINE OF THE YEAR.
Mike Donald, when asked why he doesn't have a clothing contract, said, "Is it worth $3,000 to look like a jerk?"
MAALOX MOMENT OF THE YEAR.
Curtis Strange, when told his plane would be late departing from Virginia for Phoenix, canceled the trip, saying he felt sick to his stomach. For the year, he won zero tournaments, missed two cuts in majors and finished 53rd in Tour money. Burp.
UNOFFICIAL MONEY OF THE YEAR.
Strange made about $1.5 million in guaranteed money just for showing up at foreign golf tournaments. Who needs Phoenix?
PROBLEM OF THE YEAR.
Forget about joining a club. Poor kids won't be able to learn the game as long as courses keep forcing caddies out and golf carts in. No wonder there are no black players under 40 on the Tour and few on the horizon.
GOLF ARCHITECT OF THE YEAR.
Ben Crenshaw, whose oceanside Plantation Course at Kapalua, coming soon, will be golf played off the edge of the world.
OLDEST NEW GOLF ARCHITECT OF THE YEAR.
Sam Snead, 78, formed a firm called Sam Snead Design Co., Inc., to produce pre-World War II—style courses.
IRONY OF THE YEAR.
Larry Mize actually had the lowest scoring average on the Tour, but because of a rule factoring in the difficulty of the courses played, Norman won the Vardon Trophy. Mize is a member of the policy board that changed the rule three years ago.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR.
Tim Thalmuller, Watson's caddy, who survived a point-blank shooting by a mugger in Miami. Bullet fragments lodged inside him, so his fellow caddies sent him a card: "Get the lead out."
RUNNER-UP OF THE YEAR.
Willie Wood still hasn't won a tournament on the Tour, but for a guy who is trying to feed his young family, keep his Tour card and get past the death last year of his wife, Holly, his second place at the Hardee's Golf Classic sure felt good.
When golfers return to Kapalua like swallows to Capistrano, the competitive year is over.
Donald wondered aloud whether $3,000 was enough to warrant looking like a jerk.
Norman's 62 at Doral was the right golf on the wrong day.
Faldo's was the first Rare Pair since '82.