Today, sadly, the Golf World has lost a Giant.
Not because he was perhaps the best Putter of all time. He probably was… if not Top Man, he was surely tight there on the elbow of anybody you would pick. Especially if winning was the prize of the day. You take Jack Nicklaus, and I’ll take Billy Casper in a Putting Match… and I’ll probably drink on your dime just as often.
I’m saying that with full recognition of the genius Mr. Nicklaus displayed for nearly three decades, as simply the Greatest Player of the “Greatest Game of All” (the title of Jack’s early autobiography that I read perhaps 100 times when I was nine). He was, and probably always will be, the consensus selection for that honor. It has something to do with the Quantity of Wins, of course, but to me, far more important was the Quality of those experiences… like picking up Tony Jacklin’s putt. By the way, Happy belated 75th birthday Mr. Nicklaus, and thank you for all you have done for Golf.
But now I’d like to talk a bit of what Mr. William Earl Casper Jr. meant to the Game of Golf… for those who could still properly see the context even in our currently skewed Golf kaleidoscope chase for the next eyeball.
The man was simply a Giant.
Not just because in the heyday of Golf from 1962 to 1970, he won as many Tournaments as anybody else did. He did. Really. Look it up. Not that anybody would guess that.
No… not because of that…
They say that Mr. Billy Casper is the most underrated Major Golf Champion ever. I certainly wouldn’t disagree… if you are measuring only Wins and Top Tens. Of course, it was hard to be well known when the genius promoter Mark McCormack was creating the ‘Big Three’, and Billy wasn’t one of them. The only reason Mr. Casper wasn’t included is that McCormack represented the other Three, and not Billy. That’s another story of course, but it sort of ties in.
I’d say he has been underrated for a bigger reason than that even. He was simply a Gentleman. He wasn’t a ‘story’.
The most they made of him was his diet inclusion of Bison meat for health purposes. ‘Buffalo Billy’. Essentially this discloses something very wrong about what the Golf Media and Golf Business has become. As more money is to be made by the Golf Industry by embracing idiots and the superficial storylines and notoriety that they produce (which then gets monetized), than what stories about Gentleman with real accomplishments worth considering (instead of the far more common Sprayed Deer Antlers, Frozen Glutes, 9-irons as Dental Tools, Drug Busts & Hush-Ups, Cup Back-stabbings, or the pure old-fashioned gossip columnist style Celebrity or Infamy nonsense or titillation) might create in terms of ‘hits’ and ‘likes’ and all that other foolishness, well, you can see where that goes.
Remember what the masters of propaganda teach the too-bright-for-their-own-good-or-ours boys in business school… something about no such thing as bad publicity? I beg to differ. The entire culture gets dragged down. Are we only measured by Marxist denial of soul coupled with predator-capitalist material pursuit? You want to drag Golf down into that hell-hole, never to recover? Go there and leave Golf where it always was, vultures of the Biz.
Golf is precious. Golf is not a business… it’s an Art. It’s a Treasure. So are it’s real Heroes.
Of course, if the Golf writers had any sense of place and could really write, then maybe they could get people inspired by the Gentleman of Golf to do real stories… oh, what am I saying, that would actually be too close to working for a living. That type of writer has largely gone to their reward. The remainders of the Fourth Estate has gone over to the dark side.
Throwing your coffee cups at the screen yet, Journaille? Care to listen to more? At least no more Golf journalists are reading this, except maybe real ones like Dan Jenkins. Hello Sir. Loved your books… but loved your articles far more. So much so that searching your old stuff on Google Newspapers from the past is now my favorite hobby, that regretfully I have so little time for. There should be a syndicated rerun of all your works, it would be swamped. I’d selfishly ask you to keep up the good work, even though our mountain of presents from you still have not all been opened yet, as you were doing it before most of us were born.
Back to the subject of the day…
Now, nobody has talked all that much about Billy Casper since the 1970’s, except for a small bit of Senior Tour brilliance in the 1980’s, including a US Senior Open.
Sadly… the Golf World today too much worships and chases after what gets the turnstiles turning, and the cash registers ka-ching-ing. Not to mention, how the Golf Media storyline is driven by the advertising dollar. I know a little something about that too. Don’t advertise (or, more to the point, can’t spend enough to make them salivate) and what they’ll say about you in private doesn’t jibe with the words seen, or better yet, never written. You want truth in golf journalism? Better use a microscope… because the big boys in that world got bills to pay, and will make sure you know it, subtly or otherwise. I’ve learned to at least come to terms with the ones that are direct. The others… well, we’ll save that for now.
Add it up… Too much promotion for dollars masquerading as journalism, and not enough story-writing inspiring those to better love the Game, and all it can mean. And I don’t mean a few kind words when somebody with a name passes. Golf is a rich game that can inspire people to be BETTER people. Go back to the basics, Golf World. It’s not too late.
Look at what Golf has become. PGA’s Golf 2.0? Are you kidding me? It didn’t need a make-over. Big Holes? Tee it Forward? Golf Now? Boobs on Golf Digest Covers? Liars masquerading as Club Engineers? Pope of Golf stealing another’s creative accomplishments while the TV insiders that know the whole story from day one provide the culprit with cover? What’s wrong with you people? Does nobody remember what made Golf so special? I do. Sorry I’m the one who has to write this, but the guys in the business who should be writing it, well, they need to keep the day job a little longer. And they wouldn’t if what is told in private became public. The price of honesty, you say? Heavy. Too heavy for most all. Maybe for every last one of them. What a shame. Glad I was an engineer instead.
Really though… The Truth will be known about everything in the next world. Isn’t that the one that matters?
So, what is the message that would hopefully be driven home on a day like today if somebody had the stones to write it, instead of the pebbles they carry now?
Mr. Casper could probably tell you, if his natural humility didn’t check it in his throat.
Golf used to be a Gentleman’s Game. First, Last, and Always. For most of the first 80% of the 20th Century, Mr. Robert Tyre ‘Bobby’ Jones, Jr. was the Golden standard in all ways… Competitor, Champion, Icon of the Game. Others followed… Nelson, Hogan, Palmer, Player, Nicklaus… and Casper. They were from a different era, and were shaped by different times, and perhaps, important to many then (should be for all now)… Sportsmanship & Gentlemanly conduct actually mattered. Of all the organizations extent in Golf, which is most admired to this day? Yes, The Masters.
Haven’t seen too many stories on Bobby Jones lately either. He’s a treasure to the Game, and the new landlords have thrown him to the back of the closet with the rubber boots you wore in grade school. Only at The Masters broadcasts might we refresh the wonder of the Man. Too bad for Golf. Kids need to be educated about the Good Stuff, not just whether the new tooth on the slopes belongs to a Saber or a Snaggle.
Embrace Golf’s Good Guys, for Golf’s (and God’s) sake. Tell THOSE stories. Anybody paying attention in the press-box?
Again, I state easily that Mr. Jones epitomized these Gentleman’s attributes. Who agrees? Well, the USGA named it’s most important and highest award honor after him. It’s the ‘Bob Jones Award’, and it’s given in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
One day not too long ago, I looked up the Jones Award recipients. I had reason to, someone I had met and admired greatly was on that list, (the 1968 recipient)… and I was a bit surprised that I had played matches with several others when I was a young player (actually played two of them back-to-back, on the same course, a year apart), and was fortunate to have more as friends, and even enjoyed some of them giving their expert opinions confirming my work.
But one thing struck me as I looked up and down the list of Jones Award winners… no Billy Casper. I looked again and again. Nowhere to be found. So I went to Mr. Casper’s World Golf Hall of Fame page, to see where his implied ranking might be, to compare… and to my surprise, he was not inducted until 1978… after 56 other (very deserving I may add) Golf Giants had been inducted. His career was pretty much over by then, so it’s not like his playing achievements were in the future then.
Now, from 1955 to 2014, a total of sixty-one Jones recipients have been selected (including Hope and Crosby together). How could it be that Mr. Casper was overlooked so many times? What was the USGA waiting for in their Jones Award deliberations for Mr. Casper to get the nod? Out of sight… out of mind? We’ll never know. Perhaps a few phone calls to Far Hills are in order, and if they still want those USGA Associate donations to flow in, perhaps they can answer the phone a bit, and if not explain why, at least thank the callers for the great ideas provided.
But it’s way bigger than that. Mr. Casper can no longer attend a USGA Awards banquet, and I’m sure he cares more about the Game than his own recognition anyway… as he was a not only a great Champion, but a humble and gentlemanly one as well. To anyone’s knowledge he was only very grateful for any honors… earned or awarded.
This is the true opportunity for Golf.
Does anyone remember when Princess Diana passed away, and the whole world went overboard about her passing? And then, as if God decided to give the world a reality check, the Nun who cared for the sick, Mother Teresa was called to her reward?
Instead of tabloid Golf and the nonsense that gets 98% of the ink, just maybe Golf’s inheritors of the Keelers, Drums, and Jenkins’s can wake the heck up and see why Golf is suffering. Just getting people to buy into the hype for it’s own sake is not at all worthy of the legacy built by… Giants.
Maybe Golfers should also start to care a lot less about what a man earns or how famous he can become, or the ink and fame he is allotted as the huckster marketing promoters and shamelessly pandering Golf media shape the view … and more to what Our Creator & Judge in Heaven thinks of what type of person someone is, measured by what really matters… integrity, honor, sacrifice, and humility. Maybe fame and money as the chase here, in a Golf World that not only welcomes but rewards utterly boorish behavior in it’s so-called heroes, has swung the pendulum’s arc to the far side, you know, the side where the Devil smiles.
I’m sick of watching it. Sorry I’m the one that needed to write this. Been watching this slow motion train wreck for too long now, from the inside. Couldn’t wait any longer to get this off my shoulders.
I don’t know about you, but after what I’ve witnessed the last few years, I’m pushing on the pendulum as hard as I can to get it swinging the other way. Problem is, I’m an ant pushing on an elephant’s behind, and if you understand the analogy, it’s tough getting dumped on in the process. Won’t stop me from trying though.
One of the features of a Real Gentleman is his firm adherence to his integrity in all matters, as well as the certain and rare ability to make others be a little better themselves, when the Gentleman is near. Truth actually matters to some… real engineers know this, for example. So do priests. Had the joy of spending a lot of time with a very wise one lately, on the Golf Course. Talked more than a bit about this world vs. the next one. I sounded out some of these thoughts about the Golf World too when giving him some Lessons… and his reactions were encouraging that these needed to be aired by somebody. I confessed to him that I hadn’t been to confession in so long that I could not remember the years. I didn’t get absolution from that, but at least he smiled, and told me to keep up my work for our Cause.
Cause… and the inspiration that creates the efforts. Important stuff.
Mr. Casper’s work for his foundation… Billy’s Kids… is an inspiration. His family life lived also inspires, including his welcoming so many children without families into his. Quiet, unpretentious, honorable living of the Life His Creator provided. Well done Sir. Hope I can do like you. I’m trying, and inspiration like you create sure does make it easier to keep trying. I’ll never be able to thank you except to do better.
In case you haven’t noticed, I admire Mr. Casper huge. Always have. A lot of souls in Heaven surely do as well, and not for his Tournament Victories. Hope one special person up there got a few moments with him today… I can imagine the smile from here.
In Heaven, we should hope that all good souls will have a place for eternity where they would truly feel at home, and welcomed by those we would admire most… Saints, Martyrs, and the Souls of Truly Good people. I sure don’t expect to belong there in such company… but my only real dream is that my children and good people everywhere will one day find peace there. The most important and loved person for me is there already, so that’s good enough for me.
I’m sure, by that Measure of the Man, Mr. Casper is now in very rare company indeed. Perpetual Peace to you, Mr. Casper. And thank you for the inspiration.
If you’d like to learn more about our cause, just ask. There are a lot of Kids that need Miracles. I know. You should too. If you liked the sentiments expressed, do yourself a favor. Make a donation to Arnold Palmer’s Children’s Hospital, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital today. If you call me before you do, I’ll reward you in a way that will make you smile. Thank you for reading this far… now go play some Golf, and smile.