As a rabid New York Yankee and Met fan growing up in Scotch Plains, N.J., in the late 1960s, SI golf reporter Amy Nutt knew a lot about baseball—"at that stage in his career, Mickey Mantle was a cinch out," she says—but little about golf. "I thought golf was a slow, boring game played by men in strange plaid pants," says Nutt, who would plant herself in front of the family television set on Saturday afternoons to watch baseball. "At four o'clock my father would come in and change the channel from baseball to golf," she says. "I'd watch the golf, just hoping to get a chance to switch the channel back."
Thirty years later Nutt, who recently wrote a story about her experience trying out as a shortstop for the Colorado Silver Bullets women's team, still loves baseball, but she is also very tuned in to golf. In addition to helping us cover PGA Tour events, including last week's U.S. Open at Oakmont (page 38), Nutt often writes about the LPGA tour and particularly enjoys delving into the obscure history of the sport. "I like writing about athletes no one has heard of who led fabulous lives," she says. One of her favorite story subjects was Lottie Dod, an Englishwoman who was the 1904 British Women's Open golf champion as well as an Olympic silver medalist in archery and the youngest woman, at 15, ever to win a Wimbledon title. "She was way ahead of her time and was possibly the greatest female athlete ever," says Nutt.
Nutt's own athletic past is nearly as diverse but, alas, not quite as brilliant. The "glory days" that stand out in her memory include the senior year she captained the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High basketball team to an 0-12 record while fouling out of nearly every game. "I really loved defense." says Nutt. "Maybe a bit too much." Then there was the episode during an intramural soccer game in the fall of her junior year at Smith College when Nutt, a fullback, kicked the ball back to her goalie to clear the ball. Unfortunately the goalie missed the ball, giving Nutt a score for the other team. "From that moment on, I was called Wrong Way Nutt," she recalls, "but I was unjustly accused. I was actually making an advanced, expert play."
As with sports, Nutt also developed a passion for philosophy at a young age. "I wrote my first philosophy paper in eighth grade and was the only person I know who was disappointed that our high school did not offer Latin," says Nutt, who graduated from Smith with degrees in both philosophy and English. While pursuing a master's in philosophy at MIT, Nutt lectured on the subject to undergraduates at Tufts University for three years; with her storytelling skills she enlivened classes by exposing the foibles of some of the great philosophers. "Socrates, for example, heard voices and was a famous drinker," says Nutt. "He was also slovenly. In fact, rumor has it, he never changed his tunic."
In 1988 Nutt left teaching behind to join the SI staff, but she has become a student once again: She's learning to play golf. She is, she says, "desperately trying to break 100," but so far the best she has been able to shoot is a 102.
Were happy to report that she remains philosophical about it.
Nutt is trying to add some Soc to her golf game.