Who Are the worst Tempers Ever?
I saw the most interesting video today, an extended phone filming of two alligators fighting to the death on the fairway of a golf course. Several foursomes gathered to watch the struggle that ended with a stare-down in the lake. I don’t know how it went from there. I went on to read some articles about violence on the golf course, usually brought on by the game itself. Then, I reconsidered my dim view of Rory McIlroy’s actions this week, as he sent a 3-iron to Davy Jone’s Locker, a club that was retrieved by a diver today.
Frankly, I needed the time off after watching the LPGA and the inevitable presence of “you know who.” Yes, Miss Ko and Miss park were at it again this Sunday, so I switched channels and researched some of the worst tempers in the history of the game, and came up with some interesting stuff not normally found among the usual suspects.
Sergio Garcia’s temper? I don’t even want to talk about him – disgusting, with Tiger not far behind – both amateurs They are of the modern “saliva” school, only a passing fad. It was fun to read of Craig Stadler who, once upon a time, could find no filter for his violent urges, and was hailed in his era as a master of the “wrapping” school of iron-bending. Tommy Armour may be the most famous temper of them all, because he practiced it the way others practice golf, even counseling Arnold Palmer to throw the clubs forward to save energy in finding them. Apparently, he holds the depth record for a driver that couldn’t be found by a hard-hat diver.
Among the connoisseurs of temperamental golf, however, was Texan “Wild Bill” Melhorn. Great players refer to him as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and even Hogan sought his help. Wild Bill Melhorn was something of a Captain Kidd of the golf course, and should have carried a sabre in his bag. When he was young, he resembled that arrogant, handsome big game hunter in Tarzan episodes who always loses his life through overconfidence. Older, he resembled the stereotypical rural curmudgeon who shoots at traveling salesmen from his porch. In his time, Melhorn won won quite a few pro tournaments, but unfortunately, didn’t strike it rich in any of the majors. Why? Despite the greatness of his long game, it all came down to anyone’s guess when it came to putting, and could he ever let you know about it when it all went south.
He was, by all accounts, a nightmare on the green, a clinic for yips, on one occasion yipping a two foot putt into a bunker. Dr. Jeckyll on the fairway, which he usually found, and Mr. Hyde on the green, he once tied his putter to his car bumper to punish it on the way home. Fellow players were terrified of him, and for good reason. He had a lexicon of golfing admonishments unknown to Webster or Oxford, and a voice that could bring down the wrath of Odin. A long hitter, he was a long thrower as well, and while generally amiable toward people, the man could really hold a grudge against a club.
So, while I mistakenly thought that people like Rory should be hit in both the pocketbook and the scorecard for throwing 3-irons in the lake, now I know better. Now, I know that club-throwing, bending, bumper-tying, and tree-whacking are part of a rich history, perfected in the age of Hollywood’s golden age by the irrepressible Wild Bill Melhorn, the greatest golf temper that ever lived.