Once, before theadvent of Golf Channel and golfblogger.com and the PGA Tour Network's SatelliteRadio XM 146--are you dizzy yet?--there were men, and a few women, who walkedthe course, talked to the players and wrote up what they heard, smelled, feltand saw. You'd read about a golfer with grass stains on his trousers while yougot ink stains on your fingers. The reports, the good ones, left a golf depositin you. All over the country, there were folks typing golf (among many otherthings): Art Spander in San Francisco, Furman Bisher in Atlanta, Dave Andersonin New¬†York, for the Times.
It's hard toimagine a more unassuming Timesman. The new golf year will begin without him.He has no rite-of-spring Masters trip planned, for now. After more than a halfcentury as a newspaperman, Anderson, 78, has "retired," although hisretirement will include 18 columns a year. He really should get a newagent.
Anderson andArnold Palmer were both members of the birthclass of '29, both solid to theircore, and both with a knack for saying something memorable by saying somethingtrue. At Augusta National, and nowhere else, there are no inside-the-ropesarmbands for reporters. Some years ago, when an old Augusta National memberasked Anderson what he thought of the new, gleaming press building, Andersonsaid, "I'd trade the whole thing for an armband."
At the '93 U.S.Open at Baltusrol, Tom Watson got himself in contention on Saturday. A bunch ofwriters waited for Watson off the 18th green, Marriott pens in hand, ondeadline. Steve Melnyk, working for ABC, cordoned off Watson. He was waitingfor his earpiece to tell him what to do. A couple of scribes called forWatson.
"Do you mind,guys?" Melnyk said. "I'm live."
"Steve,"Anderson said, "we're live, too."
Anderson coveredeverything and everybody. The best interview of them all? "Nicklaus, oh,yeah," Anderson said recently. "Jack answers in paragraphs, and hedoesn't care if you're from The New York Times or SI or Dubuque." Not longago Anderson asked Nicklaus about changes to Augusta National. Nicklaus startedgoing through the card, hole by hole. When he got to the 7th, Anderson made areference to the 10th. Nicklaus said, "Hold it--I haven't finishednumber¬†7 yet."
In '76, on theMonday after the first playing of the Memorial, Anderson played MuirfieldVillage on a press day. He hit his Sunday best off the 1st, 225 and straight.Nicklaus happened to be watching.
"He not onlycan write," Nicklaus said, "he can play."
Anderson wastelling that story the other night. He was at home in New Jersey, his wife of54 years, Maureen, waiting on him for a date. They have four children. Steve isan executive at ESPN; Mark is a high school teacher and an artist; Jo is anactress; Jean Marie is a producer for Golf Channel. Dave Anderson is athird-generation newspaperman, but the streak is over. Still, between thecolumns and the kids, a nice legacy.
The Nicklauscomment, it's something. Jack was never a glad-hander. "That's one you cantake to the bank," somebody said.
The old columnisthad a correction.
"That'sone," he said, "you can take to the grave."
Golf Plus willnext appear in the Jan. 21, 2008, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
by JAMES P. HERRE
Fresh formats, great champions and no arrests (!)--'07was a banner year for golf.
Tiny Scottish town rejects Donald Trump's proposed $2.1billion resort
YANKEE, GO HOME
BARTON SILVERMAN/NEW YORK TIMES (ANDERSON)
JACKED UP Anderson has a Pulitzer, but he also hangs his hat on a rare compliment from the Golden Bear.
GEORGE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES (LARRY HAGMAN)
JUSTIN LANE/EPA (TRUMP HAIR)
MAURIZIO RELLINI/GRAND TOUR/CORBIS (ABERDEENSHIRE COAST)
DAVE ALLOCCA/AP (BIG BIRD)
20TH CENTURY FOX/PHOTOFEST (SALLY FIELD)
STEVE TERRILL/CORBIS (COWBOY)