John Derr, who I introduced to you yesterday, knew and covered the golf greats — Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and others — for more than 65 years.
And that’s not all. Many of them were also his friends.
This is a story John shared with me via email about how he came into possession of Snead’s Triple Slam canvas golf bag:
“Six months after Pearl Harbor, the world was at war in 1942 and many healthy PGA professionals signed up to serve. Urged by the government to continue playing tournaments at easily accessible sites, the PGA went ahead at the Seaview Club in Atlantic City, N.J., near the Army camp at Fort Dix.
“Eight days before the PGA championship was to begin, Sam Snead passed his physical and volunteered to become a seaman in the U.S.Navy. He was offered a pass, if he signed that day but he delayed it a week.
“His finals opponent was Cpl. Jim Turnesa, accompanied by several platoons from the Army base, lads who did not know a seaman recruit was the competition. Sam heard much razzing but he persevered and won, 2 and 1.
“It was his first major victory, one that normally would result in his sponsor, Wilson Sporting Goods, creating a fancy golf bag, saluting his achievement in big letters.
“But the war was on. Leather was being used in making shoes for the troops, not ceremonial bags for golfers.
“This meant Snead’s clubs would rest in the canvas bag on which in big letters was stamped the name WILSON and also the name of the professional, but no mention of him being the new PGA champion.
“No new bag now.”
Tomorrow: Part II
The Armchair Golfer