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April 18, 2005

The amazing Dan Jenkins

dan jenkins.jpgGiven that it is Shell Houston Open week, it seem appropriate to note that Ft. Worth's Dan Jenkins -- whose writings were previously featured in posts here and here -- is the best golf writer of our times. An outstanding golfer as a collegian at TCU, Mr. Jenkins has covered golf for various publications (he writes a column for Golf Digest these days) for over 50 years. He writes with an engaging combination of wit and historical perspective (he has covered the past 55 straight Masters golf tournaments), which allows him to compare better than anyone else the accomplishments of Tiger Woods to the other dominant golfers of the past 50 years, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Thankfully, Mr. Jenkins has passed on his talent to his daughter, Sally, who is an excellent sportswriter for the Washington Post.

In connection with the recent Master's golf tournament, Golf Digest ran this article excerpting pieces of Mr. Jenkins' writings over the past 20 years and also providing parts of a recent interview with Mr. Jenkins. Don't miss it. Here are a few gems:

On Ben Crenshaw's emotional and inspirational 1995 Masters victory the week after the death of this long-time mentor, Harvey Penick:
"Not to bury the lead, but all in all, this Masters was a very bad week for atheists."

On Greg Norman shooting 78 and blowing a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo on the last day of the Master's in 1996:

"When Greg Norman self-destructed, Nick Faldo was right there to claim his third green jacket. A strange object slowly bled to death before our very eyes for four hours, and it wasn't even a shark. Although Norman did it to himself and unleashed every Great White Can of Tuna joke in the book, his undoing also wrought sympathy from his most cynical critics. On the one hand, you could appreciate why Faldo hugged Greg on the final green. Why wouldn't you hug a guy who's been that nice to you?"

Which reminds me of Mr. Jenkins' following joke (not included in the article) about Norman, who is a favorite target of Mr. Jenkins. Upon French golfer Jean Van de Velde's blow-up on the final hole that cost him the 1999 British Open, Mr. Jenkins observed:

Q: What does "Jean Van de Velde" mean in English?

A: "Greg Norman."

Again on Norman, this time after he hit a wayward shot on the 18th hole of the 1986 Masters ensuring Jack Nicklaus' fifth green jacket:

"What do you do if you're Greg Norman in the 18th fairway of the Masters on Sunday and you're trying to get Jack Nicklaus into a playoff? You hit a half-shank, push-fade, semi-slice 4-iron that guarantees the proper result for the history books. Oh, well, Greg Norman always has looked like the guy you send out to kill James Bond, not Jack Nicklaus."
On the proliferation of Tournament Player Courses on the PGA Tour:
"TPC sounds too much like something kids sniff."

On Ian Baker-Finch's blow-up round during the 1997 British Open:

"He went out in 44 and came back in 48, which sounded like a man's service history in World War II."

And finally, in the interview, Mr. Jenkins is asked whether today's PGA Tour players are as accessible to the press as the players of bygone eras:

"Not even close. Hell, they're not even accessible to each other. The old guys hung out, in the locker rooms, bars, restaurants. Players and writers drank together, had dinner together. Back then, smoking wasn't a felony and cocktails came easier."

Dan Jenkins is a Texan and American treasure.

Update: I just have to pass along this Jenkins anecdote from Dr. Jim Bob Baker, a reader of this blog who commented:

After years of cigarettes and cream gravy, Jenkins had to face the inevitable Cardiac Bypass surgery, but he managed to joke about even this. His surgeon had said that he was planning to do 4 bypass grafts pre-operatively, but managed to restore good blood flow to Jenkins' heart with only three, prompting Jenkins to brag that he had "birdied my bypass."

"Birdied my bypass?" Classic Jenkins!

Posted by Tom at April 18, 2005 5:30 AM |

Comments

Dan Jenkins is without a doubt the funniest writer I have ever read.

After years of cigarettes and cream gravy, he had to face the inevitable Cardiac Bypass surgery, but he managed to joke about even this. His surgeon had said that he was planning to do 4 bypass grafts pre-operatively, but managed to restore good blood flow to Jenkins' heart with only three, prompting Jenkins to brag that he had birdied his bypass.

One of my favorite pictures at home shows me and my fellow co-conspitators standing in front of the sign denoting Dan Jenkins' reserved parking spot at Amon Carter Stadium before a Tech - TCU football game. My one brush with greatness.....

jrb

Posted by: jim bob baker at April 18, 2005 10:39 AM

dead ... solid ... perfect

Posted by: banjo jones at April 18, 2005 9:27 PM

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