I had the privelege of meeting Mr. Harvie Ward during the 1982 and 1983 North & South Amateur Invitational Tournaments, as he was a fixture of Pinehurst Golf at the time. I was introduced to him by Mr. Bob Barrett, the owner and proprietor of the Pine Crest Inn… (if you’ve never stayed there before, you need to, at least once). In those tournaments, I was escorted out to the Traffic Circle without my pork chop by Jay Sigel (just before he matched Harvie’s back-to-back USGA Ams) in the quarterfinals one year (1982), and Davis Love III in (1983) round one (I was impossibly seeded 4th of the exempt players, and Davis, though a qualifyer, was a likely huge favorite, as I hadn’t played a tournament round in 12 months).
Mr. Ward decided to help me, after Mr. Barrett’s kind words about me to him at Pinehurst. As I simply was a horrible putter then, by the relative standards against those I was being beaten by, it’s where I wanted help. Mr. Ward provided me putting, and golf playing help, for the next few years.
Mr. Ward was a gentleman with a soft spot in his heart for struggling young “working stiff” amateurs. Perhaps that’s because of his own history, but certainly his generosity came from his oversized heart. He refused my attempts to pay him each time… saying to me to use it to play more tournaments. He knew I was a “11 month working” engineer, paying my own way to limited tournament play. He told me the story how the USGA penalized him regarding expenses after winning two USGA Amateurs… it was a tough blow… “selective punishment” would be the operative word.
In 1984 & early 1985, Mr. Ward had taken the job as Director of Golf at the Grand Cypress Golf Resort in Orlando, FL. When I would see him, he would take me out to the (at the time, fairly deserted) golf course, and give me three hour playing lessons on the South Course nine. He’d work hard to find my weaknesses, then mercifully attack them until I improved. Sometimes I would need to hit 20 straight shots until I executed well enough for him to be satisfied. It was a technique that another friend from the Carolinas also employed. I’ll tell about that great teacher in another page.
The highlight of those lessons with Mr. Ward were when he would take the putter in his own hands, and demonstrate what he wanted me to do differently… I had a real problem with left wrist breakdown under pressure in those days… mostly because I first learned to putt by watching my Dad (with a full-on Bobby Locke wrist technique that he somehow holed everything with). But in Harvie’s hands, the putter looked like a natural extension of his hands and forearms. He was in complete control, with a natural smooth wrist motion.
Looking back on it, I never really saw Mr. Ward putt with his own putter… each lesson I had with him, he left his clubs in the shop, and would demonstrate by using mine… including the Arnold Palmer / Wilson 8802 style putters I used then. I wish I could have seen him putt in competition, under pressure. I remember being amazed how he would roll in 20 footers on the sloping greens at Grand Cypress without even reading the putt. He looked like he was totally at home on the green… he “owned” it.
What I learned about putting from Mr. Ward was never put to good use… from 1984 to 1986 my tournament career was basically two or at most three events per year. But he did help me understand better the mentality of great putters. He stressed to me over and over what good putters did… they saw the line, and trusted their instinct. I wish Mr. Ward was still here to go to… I would have enjoyed hearing his take on what I use today, and having him putt again… with ‘my’ putter.
Thanks Mr. Ward.