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Ode to Jack

Date unknown

I sit before this typewriter bug-eyed in awe unabashed, contemplating in cold blood the idea of attempting a paean to a golf score of 62. Jack Nicklaus did it in a practice round tuning up for the Open at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J. If you are a golf nut as I am you will understand and endorse. If not, I can but hope that you are close enough to one who shows signs of galloping golfomania to be at least indulgent.

photo of jack nicklaus from the 1960s

Sixty, by gum, two (if you don’t dig golf I will try to explain with this tenuous understatement ) is quite a score. It has never been done before at Baltusrol. It is an average of 3 and 4/9 strokes per hole if you must know. When your friendly neighborhood golf goof foams at the mouth and says “sixty two” in hushed reverential tone you will wonder that he can do it. There isn’t a soft poetic labial anywhere in the words. In fact, “sixty two” lends itself rather to being hissed through clenched teeth. But as a golf score, light comes through it as through stained glass windows and there is organ music in the background.

And there is magnificent drama in the incident. IT DIDN'T COUNT! It is tragedy such as only a Shakespeare could assess in his iambic stride.

How do you find something analogous in the Human Adventure?

The actress who weeps real tears for the camera in a scene which is headed for Oscarville just as an extra kicks over a prop. The UN Delegate who quotes Liviticus with telling effect only to discover that the television cameras have cut away for a station break. These marks of tragic irony pale . . . all of them, pale . . . when measured against the record-smashing round of 62 just BEFORE the Open BEGINS. Stacked against the figure of Jack Nicklaus, King Lear is Laughing Boy. There is only one who stands in the league with him. It is a salesman named John P. Altemus. He had a hole-in-one on the thirteenth at Main Line and turned ashen and trembled. He was supposed to be out making calls and the hole-in-one had to be hushed up to save his job.

In the quiet hours I will raise my glass in silent toast — and I trust you will join me — to John P. Altemus and Jack Nicklaus.