Winged Foot, N.Y., June 1974. The U.S. Open Has just ended and Hale Irwin is basking in victory. Now, the rains have come and a gloom has descended on the course.
Outside the locker room is Linda Watson. She is being soaked by the rain. Inside, her husband of less than a year is sitting disconsolately. At the age of 24 Tom Waston had led the U.S. Open for three rounds only to shoot 79 the final day. He is being consoled by his mentor Byron Nelson.
Linda Watson waits. Around her, the small world of the golf tournament where she has lived for the previous week is coming down. Scoreboards, concession stands, signs, gallery ropes and officials' tents all are coming down. The grounds are littered with garbage.
"It was a low moment," she remembered. "There I was alone in the rain and it seemed like everything was coming apart. Around me, they were taking things apart and already that day Tom's game had come apart, the tournament had come apart. Everything.
"And all I could do was wait."
Tom Watson came out of that locker room and two weeks later won his first tournament. Since then he has won 27 tournaments, including five majors. He has been the dominant player on the tour for the fast four years and is in the field competing this week in the Kemper Open at Congressional Country Club.
Still, even with her husband the game's No. 1 player, Linda Watson waits. She waits for him to hit more range balls; waits for him to finish on the putting green; waits for him to finish talking to one more reporter.
"When I first came out on tour I was like everyone else, I thought it was all black tie and formal dresses," she said. "You find out quickly that the glamor is only one part of the life. Being on tour is very much routine.
"It's being in a hotel room with a baby; it's trying to find a laundromat in a place you don't want to be: it's being fogged in when you can't afford to be fogged in.
"It's a difficult life. But I wouldn't trade it with anybody. And I know, when it's over, I'll miss it."
Linda Watson will miss the the glamor and the excitement of winning. But she says she'll also miss nights like the one years ago in Columbus, Ga., when she and Tom Walked two miles to a $2.50 all-you-can-eat catfish house because they didn't want to spend money on a cab.
All of it, the waiting, the joys and the sorrows, the rain and the travel are part of Life on Tour, a kind of life that those who live it say cannot be understood unless it is experienced.
It is impossible to generalize about life on the pro golf tour. The spectrum is too broad. For every Tom Watson there is a John Mazza. For every pro who is treated royally at each tour stop there is a caddy who is treated poorly. For every wife who complains about the travel there is a girlfriend back home who wonders what He is doing alone on the road.
In most towns where the PGA tour stops it is as big as life. People give up vacation time so they can volunteer to work the tournament. They get to do things like direct traffic and probably won't see a shot hit all week. But they return to work the next week and tell their colleagues how much fun it was probably because Ben Crenshaw said, "good morning," getting out of his car.
For one week the local newspapers cover golf the way Congressional Quarterly covers Capitol Hill. Every city is convinced that its tournament is somehow better, somehow different, somehow more important than the others.
For every Kemper at Congressional there is an L.A.-Glen Campbell at Rivera. For every Phoenix there is a Tucson. For every Bing Crosby there is a Bob Hope.
"There is a tendency for the people in each city to think of their tournament ad THE tournament," said Bob Green, who has covered the tour for the Associated Press for 13 years. "To the people on the tour, though, it's really all the same. Basically, you see the same faces and the same people each week It's a traveling neighborhood."
While most players get the red-carpet treatment, the rest of the people on tour lead very different lives. Wives are travel agents, secretaries and treasurers. Caddies are confidants, whipping boys, friends. And those who run the PGA tour have the delicate job of trying to keep everybody happy: players, fans, local officials, media.
The tour is Tom Watson and Lee Trevino, but it also is Jack Snyderman, who runs the scoreboard in each town and draws clever cartoons for whichever players beg him. It is Jack Nicklaus, but it also is middle-aged Barbara Broske, who began taking pictures of Nicklaus five years ago and now takes pictures professionally for a golf magazine. "I do all the boys, not just jack," she said. But, smiling, she admits, "I've taken more than 10,000 pictures of Jack."
"It's a great life," said Bruce Edwards, Watson's caddy the last eight years, "as long as you understand it. That's the key, knowing what it's about. Because if you come out here expecting only the good, the bad will get you real quick."
This is about The Good, The Bad and The Life.
"Out here, you learn to take the bitter with the sweet, 'cause you find out quick there's no way it's gonna all be sweet." -- "Killer," Hale Irwin's caddy
His name is Sammy L. Foy, but he hasn't been called that for years. He started on tour 26 years ago after winning 30 of 34 fights as a welterweight boxer. That's why he's "Killer."
Now, Killer is somewhere into his 60s and he doesn't like to talk about that. He is a stocky, roly-poly man whose gnarled right hands feels like sandpaper when you shake it.
Killer has seen them all. He's worked for Tommy Bolt, Bob Rosburg, Porky Oliver and Jerry Barber. He has worked for Irwin nine years now and says, "He's the best bag I've ever had."
For a caddy on tour finding a bag that can support him is vital. It means showing up on Monday and trying to find some rabbit (qualifier) and then hoping he gets into the field so you can at least make expenses for the week.
"There's about 100 guys out here but there's only about 40 making any kind of living," Killer said, still sweating after his man had shot 74 in the third round of the Memorial Tournament last Saturday. "If you don't get a bag that's making money you ought to just go home, find something else to do.It's not worth being out here if you can't make a living."
Although caddies are as much a part of the tour as anyone, they are often treated like second-class citizens. It is a role the old-timers, like Killer, shrug off. The younger caddies resent it.
"It's sickening," Bruce Edwards said. "If I have one complaint with the life it's the way people treat us: Pinkerton guards tournament chairmen, marshals, you name it. They all act like they're doing us a favor letting us be here.
"What burns you is when you get to a tournament and they tell you to park three miles away while the marshals, half of whom are incompetent, park right next to the clubhouse. They're here to order people around and feel like big shots. We're here to work."
At 26, Edwards has lived the tour caddy's dream. In 1973, shortly after graduating from high school in Hartford, Conn., he decided to try caddying. After about a month on tour he offered his services to a young player named Tom Watson. They have been together ever since.
At first, Edwards loved the life. Tall, dark-haired with a pleasant smile, he met people easily. But now, he misses his girlfriend when he's on the road and the amenities of the life don't make up for the problems.
"The only reason I'm still here is this," he said, tapping Watson's red-and-white bag with a putter. "I know there's no future in this down the line but right now the money's very good and I still enjoy myself during those four hours on the course. That's still fun."
"Walking out there and having the big names say hello to you, recognize you. That's an unbelievable feeling." -- Mike Donald
It was the third round of the Bay Hill Classic and Mike Donald stepped onto the third tee, pulled out his driver and hit a big ugly hook into the water. Lee Trevino pulled an iron out of his bag, hit the ball down the middle and said quietly, "I don't know how anyone could try to hit driver off that tee."
Donald's heart sank. At 25 he is a tour rabbit. Last year, his first on tour, he made $12,365 and finished 151st on the money list. Finding himself paired with Trevino after two good rounds in the Bay Hill tournament was both exciting and scary. And now, he believed, he was choking.
"I hit a stupid shot and Trevino really let me know it," he said. "What an awful feeling."
Somehow, Donald gritted his teeth, birdied seven of the last 10 holes and shot 66. He ended up fifth in the tournament. It is situations like that one at Bay Hill that often separate the haves from the have-nots.
Today, Donald has reached an in-between kind of status. He has won $37,795 this year. That puts him 49th on the money list. sThat position got him into the Colonial and the Memorial, both invitational tournaments with no qualifying. If he stays in the top 60 for the rest of the year, Donald will become an exempt player, meaning he can pick and choose his tournaments. Exempt status is nirvana on tour.
Donald has made it this far the hard way. He lost his golf scholarship at Georgia Southern five years ago because the coach didn't think he played well enough. He failed to get his card the first time through the PGA tour school. When he did get his card on his second try, Donald returned home to Hollywood, Fla., to find that friends who had said they would sponsor him suddenly didn't have any money. He managed to sell 26 shares in himself at $1,000 apiece and got in his car to head for Monday qualifiers.
Ironically, the success he has had this year has made Donald's life even lonelier than his first year. "When you start qualifying for tournaments you don't get to the next place until late Monday or Tuesday. By that time all the other guys you've been hanging around with have chosen roommates or some of them have already missed qualifying and left," he said. "This week (Memorial) I don't really know anyone very well. Most of the guys here are married, anyway."
In fact, 55 of the 60 top money winners are married and Donald spends a lot of time alone on the road. Meeting women is not difficult for a 25-year-old who dresses well.
"It's hard to come into a town, meet someone, then leave. You don't want to get involved and find yourself lovesick the next week and not able to swing a club," he said."And, even if you make it casual, sometimes the other person doesn't."
Early this year Donald had dinner with someone in Florida. He had an enjoyable, platonic evening and thought little of it. Until, the next week he got a letter signed, "All my love . . ." Then another. And another. Thirteen in all before she got the hint.
Right now, Donald is consumed by his goal: to become an exempt player. He made the cut at Memorial last Friday, meaning he did not have to qualify for the Kemper, and walked off 18 grinning.
The next day, four under par through 16 holes, with a chance to move way up in the standings and increase the size of his check, Donald finished double bogey, triple bogey. He stormed off the green, furious. But he came back the next day to shoot 71 and made a check for $2,450.
"If you're making Mondays, or even better, avoiding them, this is a pretty good life," Donald said. "You have to earn your way out here. I don't think you'll ever hear a player say someone else is lucky, because you make your own breaks out here. If you don't make it, there's no one to blame but you."
"Wind up a tour wife and she waits." -- Al Geiberger
Christy Kite laughs whenever she repeats the quote because she recognizes the truth in it. She is in her fifth month of pregnancy, but that didn't prevent her from walking every hole at Muirfield with her husband Tom last week.
Christy Kite is different fron most tour wives in one sense: she was an excellent player herself, playing at Arizona State. But for the last six years she has been a tour wife and, she admits, just watching can be harder than playing.
"When you're outside the ropes your mind doesn't have much to do," she said. "It's not like playing where you're thinking about your next shot or what club to use.
"I remember the first time I watched Tom play when we were dating I called my mother and said, 'How did you stand watching me all those years?' It was excruciating just watching."
The hardest thing to learn, Christy Kite says, was to keep the emotions under control when he comes off the course. "The most important thing you do is keep things on an even keel," she said. "You can't be too estatic after a good round because he has to play the next day.And the last thing in the world he needs after a bad round is to have to pick you up off the floor."
Sometimes she gets down after a bad trip or when a hotel reservation is lost or when Tom plays poorly. But Christy Kite is happy. "One thing about being out here," she said. "If you feel like you're getting picked on by the life one week you can always remain yourself that next week it will pick on someone else."
"It's not hard to recognize a tour wife on the course. She'll never be wearing, stacked heels or fancy clothes. She knows better. She knows to survive out there, sensible is in. Sleek is out." -- Linda Watson