Saturday, December 8, 2007

Grant Spaeth Interview - Part III of IV

INTERVIEWER: From say 1960 backyards, who was the finest Stanford golfer who you observed or played with or were a team mate of?
GRANT: Fred Brown was a very good player and he won the Broadmoor invitational more than once and that was one of the primary amateur events. Phil Getchell did very well after graduation. Chuck Van Linge was a very, very good golfer. He, over the years, has proven what a really good player he was.
INTERVIEWER: Did any of them play professionally?
GRANT: No, no professional golf seemed a long way away. Nicklaus was quoted as saying unless you’ve won your state amateur forget it. That was the test. When you haven’t proven that you’re the number one amateur, how could you possibly go on the tour? And I think that was the feeling that professional golf was not an option, except for a Venturi.
INTERVIEWER: Was Bob Rosburg an exceptional college player?
GRANT: Right, and he didn’t turn pro, he worked down in a clothing store in Palo Alto for three years, and then he decided to give it a go because he wasn’t enjoying that, and he made it. But as you know, he was a unique golfer with a baseball swing. He wasn’t long, but he was an awfully good chipper and putter.
INTERVIEWER: Did he surprise you when he won the PGA?
GRANT: No, because he nearly had won the US Open, I mean he lost to Moody by one stroke. He was a fighting winner. There’s just no question about it. I played a lot of golf with him – and, sure it surprised us, anyone who scores that well is going to surprise you, but he was good, he was good, I just didn’t know how good the rest were. So be sure to talk to Rosburg, he’ll be more colorful than I am, because he got angry at Stanford, the Stanford band. And they wouldn’t pay for the team to go to the national inter-collegiates in ’47. Dick McElyeas’ father financed it. So when they came back, they gave the cup to McElyea and they put it in his store on University Avenue, and said were not giving it to the Athletic Department. They wouldn’t support us!
INTERVIEWER: That’s a great story.
GRANT: [laughs] A true story. Rosburg will knock your socks off!
INTERVIEWER: Could you talk about Dick McElyea?
GRANT: Well, he was a very close friend, because as I’ve said, he was in high school. He was rather well to do, at least his father had lots of golf clubs. You know you got the thrill of seeing these clubs, because, remember, in 1946 they weren’t making golf clubs, or the grips were paper. It didn’t get going until sometime after the war, but Dick’s father had a lot of golf clubs. And secondly Dick loved Dixieland Jazz and he had records that wouldn’t stop. He lived in a lovely home in Palo Alto and he was a very gentle, nice fellow, and that was true all his life. He couldn’t hit the ball very far, and it was a surprise that he won the Pacific Coast Conference, but he was a meticulous golfer, and even though he couldn’t move the ball very far, he never was out of play. And he had a magnificent short game and he’d just would wear you down. Sort of reminded me of that, it wasn’t Jerry Barber, it was the other fellow who won the PGA hitting 4 woods 10 feet from the hole, from 50 yards behind Sam Sneed.
INTERVIEWER: You say it wasn’t Miller Barber?
GRANT: No, it wasn’t Jerry Barber, it was the other fellow in Southern California and won the PGA which was then match play. So Dick was gentle, never any trouble. He was kind, not showy. He was a modest fellow who went about playing golf as best he could and as best he could was very good. He wouldn’t shoot 66, but he’d rarely shoot 76. That sort of golfer. Just right there always. And a wonderful fellow in every respect.
INTERVIEWER: Could you speak about the other personalities on your teams?
GRANT: Warren Daily was kind of a nut, effusive. I told you he exploded with the ball. I’ve seen him, of course, since, and well, we all age, but when he was on the team, he was the fun, upbeat kind of guy. There was a fellow earlier by the name of Jack Knosher from Illinois, and he used to love to gamble. No one had any money, and we had IOU’s floating back and forth. Hopefully everybody broke even at the end, but we were playing for a lot of money, relative to what we had. Jack was an absolute character. Bobby Simms was another fellow on one of our teams and he became a pilot. He was always interested in the military and that was going to be his career and turned out to be his career. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it – he crashed at some point. So I can’t say that there were really characters. There were just good friends and there wasn’t any who did anything absurd, at least that I can recall. Pretty tame bunch.
INTERVIEWER: Except on the golf course.
GRANT: [laughs] Yes, we were good on the golf course! The high point for me, either when I was in high school or early in college, my dad got the wit of having the golf team and the alumni. The alumni match was a big deal, I mean an important match for the golf team, and the alumni showed up. So, you’d have Tatum, Berl, Seaver and a long line of them. They really went out and did battle, and then they’d come over to my house for lunch and a beer. You couldn’t have beer anywhere on the campus if you recall back in 1946. It was a dry place, but not at faculty homes. Anyway, that’s where we all got to meet and they started talking about Little, because Little was still on the tour then in the ‘40’s, early ‘50’s. And Seaver would get going and talking about the days of the first Stanford golf teams – ’33, ’32. I don’t know when the first team was.
INTERVIEWER: They actually had teams, I think, even before the course was built, that they would play like at Burlingame or at Peninsula or Menlo or whatever.
GRANT: Well, the really important golf started getting played, I think, with Little and Seaver in the early ‘30’s.
INTERVIEWER: There’s one fellow called Malcolm McNaughton who was 1931, and I’m just wondering if anyone had talked about him.
GRANT: Well, you might ask Tatum about him. Malcolm McNaughton was from Hawaii and one of those Scottish families that was very powerful in that community and I dare say he was into pineapples or whatever you’re into in Hawaii in a big way. I believe Malcolm McNaughton became the head of one of the big, what are there, four or five big companies?
INTERVIEWER: Like Dole or one of those companies.
GRANT: I forget, but Sandy could tell you, or Warren Berl can tell you, very important individual. I don’t know about his golf game.
INTERVIEWER: Could you talk about your career after you left Stanford? Obviously golf remained a very important part of your life because it led to your becoming President of the USGA. Could you talk about that transition?
GRANT: Well, I went to law school back East and then started practicing law here in Palo Alto about ’58, after a tour in the army. And then worked pretty hard, and then after about six years, organized my own law firm which stayed in existence for about 40 years until it merged into a larger firm. My recollection is that I started fitting golf in a bit, probably the third or fourth year of law practice, and I became a member here. I just played, nothing special. I played in the Club tournaments and I won it once here. It increasingly became important to me. I joined San Francisco Golf Club. Everybody else left this golf course to join Sharron, and I frankly didn’t like that golf course very much, so I waited around and wound up joining San Francisco. Then I decided to do some volunteer work, you know, like we all do, as a Marshall, at some event, or helping out the golf team here or the NCGA. Then just a series of circumstances. They wanted somebody from the West who was a lawyer who knew something about golf, and I wound up being general counsel. So, it wasn’t any organized campaign. It was kind of good fortune, meeting the right people. The combination of law and golf just seemed to be needed by the USGA at that time. Which a time when the golf ball, we had the self-correcting golf ball, which we had to stop, followed by Ping and the grooves, and golf became a litigious arena.
INTERVIEWER: What do you mean by the self-correcting golf ball?
GRANT: Well, two scientists in San Jose, ex-IBM, developed a golf ball which, if you sliced, would recoup and straighten out.
INTERVIEWER: Boy, that would help my game, I tell you that!
GRANT: Or if you hooked it, it would straighten out, and it worked.
GRANT: At a tremendous distance price, but it worked. We took the position that that was not a golf ball. But we didn’t have much underpinnings because we never thought of such a thing. You know, a round, and we basically said a golf ball has got to be consistent from every angle. We put that into effect, but we didn’t have it in effect when they sued us and the anti-trust laws, because we banned the ball. The ball would have failed. You wouldn’t have used it because even you Van can’t afford to loose 30 yards. [laughing] But anyway, so there was a need for a lawyer to oversee things. Not that the legal representation wasn’t strong beforehand.
INTERVIEWER: So when did you become President?
GRANT: 1990.
INTERVIEWER: And how long was your tenure?
GRANT: Two-year term. I was on the USGA for 13 years and you move up the chairs. So I got to see everything: Chairman of Rules of Golf, so that was a four-year, and Championship Committee, running the events and starting the mid-amateur. That was my favorite thing to have done. Serving on the myriad of committees that every charitable institution has.
INTERVIEWER: It’s a little unusual, perhaps, you were the second Stanford golfer who became USGA President, and there’s a third now, isn’t that correct?
GRANT: Walter Driver, that’s right, that’s right. Walter was on the golf team I think a little before Tom Watson. That’s my hunch. And he’s a very good golfer. He played in the mid-amateur when he was nothing in the USGA, but he qualified, which is an achievement. Big strong, long-hitting, good golf swing.
INTERVIEWER: He lives up to his name.
GRANT: Absolutely right!
INTERVIEWER: When Bob and Rich knew we going to be talking to you today, I looked back to “Fun and Games” and read again Alistair Cooke’s address, I guess you would call it.
GRANT: Well, yes, he stood up there.
INTERVIEWER: “The inauguration of President Grant”, he called it. [laughing]
GRANT: I got to know him through …
INTERVIEWER: That’s really quite funny.
GRANT: We played golf ever time he came out and he’d come out three times a year and stay up in the City. And then he learned I was going to be President and he called and rather coy about it, but he was essentially asking whether he might speak at the occasion. I couldn’t imagine that. I idolized Alistair Cooke. I still do. And I did then before I had ever met him, because mother being English, my mother being Scottish and my grandmother being English, we listened to him when I was right here, 14, 15. Anyway, he appeared and gave me the needle.
INTERVIEWER: Well that makes for segue. When did you first play in Scotland or the UK or Ireland?
GRANT: My first visit there, and I’ve been there a lot of times since, I had aunts in Scotland, and I negotiated with my parents to take the summer and winter, the fall quarters off. There were no Stanford abroad campuses. So I went to summer school, which enabled me to get six months, and I went to Scotland, and they conditioned it on my going up to see these aunts who were …
INTERVIEWER: So this was which year?
GRANT: 1952. And so I went up to this little town called Ballater and played golf at the little golf course every day, and then came down and played Carnoustie. I still have the score card. But my first Scottish golf course of any moment was Carnoustie for four days. The year before Hogan played. So when Hogan played, I was ahead of everybody, because I knew those holes backwards and forwards. So when he took a 6 on 17 in the third round, I said, my God, impossible. He hit it in the burn, no he didn’t hit the burn, he looked up on a second shot, blasted out and three putted. Anyways, so it was great fun to know what was happening because I knew the golf course. And then I went on down to St. Andrews where they had a tournament for college players and we stayed at the University dormitory and we played three rounds at the old course and one at the new, preceded by practice rounds. So that was my introduction. And that was followed by seven days in London with a famous man by the name of Gerald Micklem. Gerald Micklem was the caretaker of British amateur golf. Captain of the R&A, player who defeated Frank Stranahan in the British Amateur. He was on the Walker Cup team. He was a fabulous guy whose home was at Sunningdale. He took me around to all the London golf courses. That was my first trip – fabulous trip! [chuckles]
INTERVIEWER: So what are you say three or four favorite Scottish golf courses?
GRANT: Well I’ve got to say my favorite is Royal County down where I have just come from. I just think that is… have you been there?
INTERVIEWER: Yes, I’ve played there I think four times.
GRANT: Well I walked around it four times for the matches and I just couldn’t get over how perfect it was.
INTERVIEWER: Any others?
GRANT: I love Murfield. I have always had a ball at the Old Course, even though it’s a crazy golf course. But because Carnoustie was my first, it stays there, because of my memory, it’s a middle-class town, or lower-middle-class. I got to know the caddies. I got to know the members of the Club. It’s not a Club in the American sense. It’s just a place where – very modest, and I just fell for Carnoustie. Those are my four. But don’t tell others because I love them all. I mean the little courses like Panmuir and Ely, London Links.
INTERVIEWER: How does Dornoch rank?
GRANT: Oh, way up there. Way, way up there. It’s very, very special. That’s the trouble with your question.
GRANT: The top three or four – it’s hard to put Dornoch number 5, but I’ll leave it there for the moment. You have a strong dissent to that?
GRANT: No, you can’t take away my love affair with Carnoustie because it was so emotional.
GRANT: That first visit, plus Hogan.
INTERVIEWER: My experience at Carnoustie has not been so positive, but that’s just a completely personal thing.
GRANT: Sure, of course it is.
INTERVIEWER: Dornoch and County Down would be my two.
GRANT: If you keep going I’ll talk , to say Prestwick
INTERVIEWER: Prestwick is a lot of fun.
GRANT: As far as fun, just the fun of playing golf. Prestwick. Crazy.
INTERVIEWER: Cruden Bay is wonderful golf course.
GRANT: Oh, there we go.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grant Spaeth Interview - Part II of IV

This interview took place at the Stanford Golf Course on Oct. 8, 2007. The interviewers were Lyman Van Slyke, Bob Stevens and Rich Peers, members of Stanford.

INTERVIEWER: So, the Stanford team won the NCAA in ’53.
GRANT: Yes, ’53 at the Broadmoor.
INTERVIEWER: Talk about that.
GRANT: Well, I don’t think we thought we could win, number one, but we knew we were good players. But it’s not as if we ran into other golf teams around the country the way they do today. I notice the Stanford team has been in Chicago, Florida, Japan and will go to Hawaii, meeting these other teams. That didn’t happen at all, only the west coast teams and we’d play matches against them. So there was no sense of comparison and we really didn’t know going in whether we were good, relatively good, or not. It was 36 holes, six players and four lowest scores, so we went out played and we practiced a lot and talked a lot about the golf course. It was up high and so you had to make some adjustments to your golf game because the ball went further and how do you calibrate that? So we just spent a lot of time talking about that. And we just went out and played. I don’t recall anything special about that first round. I remember on the second round I realized the pressure and I wrote a long letter to my dad and Sandy Tatum and said, I think we’re about there if we can really turn it on tomorrow. So I can remember having a lot of pressure and excitement, and it worked out.

INTERVIEWER: What was the buzz, if any, about who the hot teams where?
GRANT: Well, there was LSU with Eddie Merrins who was the pro down at Bel-Air Country Club. They were the hot team, but beyond that there were Texas teams. North Texas State had been the power and Houston hadn’t appeared, but there were a lot of good players kind of banging around in the Texas/Oklahoma world, but again, I didn’t really know that much. There weren’t that many amateur tournaments and certainly not a lot of tournaments where we were exposed to the good players, but LSU was the one we beat and it was the favorite by a wide margin coming in. And frankly, I think they had a better team then we did, but they didn’t those two days. [chuckles]
INTERVIEWER: So it was four days of medal play?
GRANT: Two days.
INTERVIEWER: Two days of medal play.
GRANT: And the low 64 went into match play, that’s the way it was structured then. I don’t think they can fit all the schools any more and that’s why it’s been reduced: the number of players and the number of scores.
INTERVIEWER: What shape was the course in?
GRANT: Perfect. Colorado Springs – the course has since been changed, but it was just a good, solid golf course, and happily enough the 17th hole was one you could get on in two.
GRANT: Par 5, yes.
INTERVIEWER: I take it you reached it in two.
GRANT: I did. I had a good round. I had 71-68.
GRANT: That wasn’t the medalist, but it was number 2 medal and we won by two shots.
INTERVIEWER: Who was the medalist? Do you recall?
GRANT: I don’t. I’ve got that stuff somewhere. I’ll find it for you.
INTERVIEWER: Was that your career best performance?
GRANT: Well, sure!
INTERVIEWER: Obviously, under the circumstances it was.
GRANT: Absolutely. The moment, you know, one of those special moments. One thing I do want to add here is that when I was in high school, I was very much involved with Stanford golf as a caddy. The NCAA was here [in 1948 – editor]. I had all kinds of jobs. I was in charge of measuring the long driving contest on the 10th hole, but as a result of being a kid and Eddie Twiggs being here and Sandy Tatum being a family friend, I heard all about Lawson Little, Charlie Seaver. I mean the idea, I learned that Charlie Seaver if he had won his semi-final match at Merion in 1930, he would have played Bobby Jones. That’s how good Charlie Seaver was. Maybe better than Lawson Little, who won the U.S. Amateur twice and the Amateur twice in Britain. And then there was Art Doering – who, I don’t know what happened to him, but he was on the professional tour for a number of years. And then there was the wonderful player who owned the course record.

INTERVIEWER: Bud Brownell?
GRANT: Bud Brownell from Monterey, who I don’t have a sense of, but everybody just thought he was the most wonderful golfer ever to appear and he had this extraordinary round of golf of 63. You can image what the clubs where that they used. And then, as a caddy, here I am caddying for Bob Rosburg, Bob Cardinal, Tom Lambie from Phoenix and a couple of others. And they won the NCAA in 1947. And they should have won in ’48, but Eddie Twiggs kicked Rosburg off the team.
GRANT: He kicked Rosburg off the team because Rosburg was bought in a Calcutta at the Peninsula Golf Club and so he had an obligation to the guy who bought him and so he played in the morning, as I recall against USC, because I was caddying, and he didn’t show up for the afternoon match against USC because he had this obligation, and so Eddie kicked him off the team and as a result San Jose State won the NCAA I don’t know whether you want to put that in the history of Stanford golf…
INTERVIEWER: We have to tell it all.

GRANT: Well, you want to verify it. Ask Rosburg. That’s someone you have to interview.
INTERVIEWER: Was Venturi on the San Jose State team?
GRANT: Later, that was later. Venturi is a year older than I am. So he would have been class of ’53 probably at San Jose State.
INTERVIEWER: Actually Dick McElyea confirmed that story. Before he died they did an interview with him and he has the same story about Rosburg being booted off.
GRANT: Oh good.. Booted off! And just think about that as a decision by a coach. Facing the NCAA at your home course. Think of the edge!
INTERVIEWER: So it was here at Stanford.
GRANT: Oh yes, yes. So I was all wrapped up as a kid before coming to Stanford in the traditions of Stanford. Remember that Sandy Tatum won the NCAA individual [editor – in 1942] and he was hired by my dad as an Assistant Dean.
GRANT: Sandy Tatum. Yes, and then he in turn knew Warren Berl and George Traphagen, another name, and Dee Replogle. These were fellows on the teams that won in ’41 and ’39, I think it was. So I was raised as a kid in the Stanford tradition.
INTERVIEWER: That’s neat!
GRANT: By virtue of Tatum and my dad, and just being here.
INTERVIEWER: Did Sandy always have that stop at the top of his backswing?
GRANT: Apparently, certainly as long as I’ve known him, but somebody said he might not have had it as a younger golfer, but basically he stopped for a long time.
INTERVIEWER: So, in those days, how far are the long hitters getting it out off the tee?
GRANT: Well, I can remember Warren Daily hitting it where the boys hit it today, maybe slightly shorter, but he was hitting 4 irons into one. So that’s 1953. He was very long, he exploded on the ball. It wasn’t a smooth piece of work, which, it’s my impression that club head speed is generated effortlessly these days and it goes a long way. Warren got away with exploding at the ball, but he was huge, huge. He got it out to the trees on 12. Knocked it on 15.
INTERVIEWER: From the tee?
GRANT: Yes. I wasn’t short. I won the NCAA driving contest. They used to have a driving contest. You got three balls. The one longest ball was one prize. Three in the fairway and length. I won that won. [laughs]
INTERVIEWER: How far did you hit it?
GRANT: I can’t remember. It was up there in the first hole at Colorado Springs.
INTERVIEWER: So what ball did you use?
GRANT: Well, my recollection is that we used Spaulding Dot. Then along came Maxfli and at the NCAA in Houston, I hit a shot that didn’t reach the green and I hit it out of the bunker and then hit a putt and it only went half way. And then I looked at the ball and it was oozing white stuff, so I never played a Maxfli again. [laughing]
INTERVIEWER: You literally creamed it! [more laughing]
INTERVIEWER: And what clubs did you carry? When did the 14 club rule go in? That isn’t so terribly old, is it?
GRANT: You know, I can’t tell you. All I know is that Lawson Little, Stanford graduate, triggered it by playing at Prestwick in the British amateur with something like 32 clubs.
INTERVIEWER: It was something like 1938.
GRANT: I believe it must have happened before the war, but I could be wrong. The big golf meeting occurred in 1952 in England, at which point the “stymie” was eliminated and the rules of golf of the two countries were unified, in other words.
INTERVIEWER: Except the two balls were still in play for a while.
GRANT: That’s right. And so the areas in which they didn’t agree, they called them kind of local rules or local options and they’ve spent the last ensuing 50 years getting rid of all those. So that now, I think the last agreement was we insisted on permitting the play of an embedded ball in the rough if the local golf course chooses to invoke that rule. The rule of golf is you can only get relief from an embedded ball if it’s in a closely mown area. So that’s the one, I believe to this day, residual difference, but it was settled by giving a local option.
INTERVIEWER: Isn’t there a similar difference on whether you get line of sight relief if you’re putting from off the green …
GRANT: That’s the other one.
INTERVIEWER: … and there’s a sprinkler head in your way.
GRANT: Sprinkler head in your way within two club lengths. If this Club were to choose to do so and it could choose to do so on the 3rd green. The new 3rd green has that problem, it’s a local option. And the reason is that in the United States you can get a lot of rough that is close to the green and the idea being it can permit someone to change the shot from being in the rough to putting. Seems too lenient, given American golf. In Britain, as you well know, it’s hardly ever an issue.
INTERVIEWER: You’re almost always putting.
GRANT: You’re putting from 50 yards. They were doing that at the Walker Cup at County Down, they were putting from enormous distances.
INTERVIEWER: So, what clubs were you carrying?
GRANT: I can’t remember. McGregor woods. They were the primo. I carried three woods, yes. No 4 wood.
INTERVIEWER: Did you call them driver, brassie, spoon?
GRANT: Well, I used to call them that, but I was raised by an English mother, but that’s what we called them. Though we used to fudge with the lofts. So I’ve got a hunch my 3 wood was a 3 _ wood. My brassy was 2 _.
GRANT: Slightly weaker – a little more height.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Interview with Grant Spaeth - Part I of IV

Grant ("Biggie") Spaeth. Stanford men's golf team letter winner 1952, 1953, 1954. Member of the
1953 national championship team. USGA President 1990-92.

Intro: As part of an ongoing project to create a new website for the Stanford Men’s Golf Team, and to preserve the oral history of Stanford golf, interviews with notable Stanford golfers will be made. This is the first of those interviews. On Monday, October 8, 2007, Grant Spaeth was interviewed overlooking the 18th green at Stanford University Golf Course. The interviewers were Lyman Van Slyke, Bob Stevens and Richard Peers. Dr. Van Slyke initiated the interview.

INTERVIEWER: So, thank you for taking the time to join us today.
GRANT: No, no, my pleasure.
INTERVIEWER: Well, I’ve been curious Grant, obviously when you arrived at Stanford you were already a competent golfer, maybe a very a good golfer already. How did golf start for you? When did you start playing? Was your dad an active golfer?
GRANT: My father became a golfer. He was good athlete in college at Dartmouth. He was stationed in Montevideo, Uruguay, and there were none of the American sports, and so no football, baseball or basketball. We lived across the street from a golf course, so I learned there. For a couple of years we were down there. I played golf every day as a kid. So I was then what? 11, 12 years old.
INTERVIEWER: Self taught?
GRANT: No, there was a wonderful pro at the course. As a matter of fact, I was in Mexico teaching rules of golf and came across a fellow from Uruguay and asked him about the name of my pro. His nickname was “Espinaca”, spinach, which is bizarre and I don’t know how he got that name, but in any event. The fellow answered he’s still alive and he’s down there and he’s close to 90 and he’s very, very famous in Uruguay. So he was my teacher.
INTERVIEWER: Did you go to high school in Uruguay?
GRANT: No, I went to high school at Paly High and, as a matter of fact, was a regular caddy for the Stanford golf teams. That’s why I have some feeling for the traditions, it going back earlier than my college years because I lived here on the campus and caddied for the golf team fellows. I was kind of a general workman around here on the golf course.
INTERVIEWER: As I recall, your dad became Dean of the law school in ’46, right after the War.
GRANT: ’46, that’s right.
INTERVIEWER: You were how old in ‘46?
GRANT: I would have been 14.
INTERVIEWER: Was there a golf team at Paly?
GRANT: That’s right, there was, one fellow who later was a golfer here at Stanford was Dick McElyea - Dick and I were on the Paly golf team.
INTERVIEWER: He just passed away.
GRANT: That’s right; he just passed away. He is in the Golf Hall of Fame. He was a wonderful fellow. He and I were on the golf team and his father had a station wagon and so we played here and Crystal Springs, Palo Alto Muni, San Mateo Muni. There are a lot more golf courses around here now than there were then.
INTERVIEWER: It’s interesting that there was high school golf in those days.
GRANT: Absolutely, and it was a league that then extended from Daly City to San Jose, and we played them all in head-to-head matches.
INTERVIEWER: Was there a hierarchy of tournaments?
GRANT: No, there was no hierarchy. That was it.
INTERVIEWER: Just kind of regional play.
GRANT: That’s right.
INTERVIEWER: So you came to Stanford in?
GRANT: Class of ’54, so I came in ’50.
INTERVIEWER: The golf coach then was?
GRANT: Bud Finger. When I was in high school, the Stanford golf coach was Eddie Twiggs, who had been a golf coach for many years here and after the war, I can’t remember when he stepped down and when Bud came forward, but it must have been around 1950.
INTERVIEWER: ’48 to ’76, is what I have. Finger became coach in ’48 and Twiggs was coach from ’32 to ’47.
GRANT: Okay, yes, so Twiggs was basically the first golf coach, with a remarkable record, as you know.

Note: Coach Twiggs is shown with his 1939 national championship team including Bud Finger on his left.

INTERVIEWER: So you were on the golf team all fours years?
GRANT: Yes, I can’t remember whether freshman played on the varsity, I think we played on the Freshman team. It’s gone back and forth over the years. We played always with the varsity, I mean, there was no distinction as far as play, practice and so forth.
INTERVIEWER: That’s probably right, I know we are about the same age, I am couple years older than you are and in the Mid-West inter-collegiate sports there was always a freshman team.
GRANT: Uh-huh. It’s gone back and forth over the years.
INTERVIEWER: So who were your contemporaries/fellow team members?
GRANT: Well, I was thinking about that, the fellows, who, when we were good, the guts of the team were fellows named Fred Brown and Warren Daily. They were terrific. Fred Brown used to tackle Ken Venturi in our home-in-home matches against San Jose State. Warren Daily from Wisconsin was a very, very long hitter. Art Schroeder, who is still around here and works part-time at the golf course, was on that team. Stu Ledbetter and Bob Blackburn - the reason I’m good with the names right now is we had a reunion – 50th reunion - of our NCAA win and so that’s easy. In the earlier years there was Dick McElyea, Keith Beekman, who used to be a member here at Stanford; Dick Taylor from Arizona; Paul Palmquist, and I need to go back to the books to the get the names of some of the others. Phil Getchell was after us.
INTERVIEWER: Stewart Rhodes? Is that a name that rings a bell?
GRANT: It doesn’t.
INTERVIEWER: Phil was the fellow who was a friend of Bob……
GRANT: Yes, yes. Went into the church; into the cloth and spent a good portion of his life in Brazil, maybe as a missionary, maybe you wouldn’t describe him as that; maybe it was more sophisticated duty.
INTERVIEWER: So I think probably you fellows have the specific record of when titles were won and so on.
INTERVIEWER: Well, Grant played on the 1953 national championship team, so it would be great to hear some about that year and your experience of winning.
GRANT: The experiences of winning? Well, we were pretty good, vis-à-vis the rest of the Pac 10. I think we won every single championship and also the individual titles. McElyea. Art Schroeder won. I can’t remember the third year, but it was not very competitive as far as the Stanford golf team was concerned those years, with all due modesty.
INTERVIEWER: You were too good.
GRANT: [laughs] They were weak.

Note: The photo below of the 1953 national championship team includes Grant 2nd from left, top row.

INTERVIEWER: When we talk about a golf coach, I’m sure each one has his own style, but how did Bud Finger coach, how do you coach in golf? It’s not a team sport; it’s not like basketball or football.
GRANT: Well, I think the relationship differs one player to another. When Bud first became coach and I entered Stanford, I went and explained to him that I was taught by Art Bell at California Golf Club and that I really wanted to stick with Art Bell in terms of the golf swing, and Bud said “okay”. So our relationship wasn’t so much about the golf swing, except he was very good with the short game and was terrifically helpful with putting, chipping and all of the strategies associated with that. So we were kind of friends. But I had a sense that Eddie Twiggs, for the great teams that preceded, was very much involved in the golf swing, course management and the mental aspects of the game. So, you’d have to speak with others about what impact Bud Finger may have had on them because it wasn’t very great with me because we established this relationship when I was a freshman, and so it was understood and I abided by everything he did. We used to kid him a bit, because he was an easy mark for naughty undergraduates. We called him “Charles Bud” rather than “Mr. Finger”.
INTERVIEWER: Did he layout what he wanted out of the practice sessions, so much for short game and putting and so much for full swing, or did he work with each player one on one?
GRANT: As I say, I think it differed player to player, because he knew that I was in pretty good hands and I think they talked. Bud Finger talked with Art Bell, what should Grant work on? But it was not a highly disciplined arrangement as I sense is now the case. I remember Bud said he’d kick me off the golf team if I skied, because he was worried I’d get hurt. But there weren’t too many no’s and yeses and there was not much discipline of the sort that I see today.
INTERVIEWER: Did you have to dress in a certain way?
GRANT: Yes, we certainly did, on traveling. We were Stanford people who had to be a cut above everyone else.
INTERVIEWER: So you all wore the same blazers and slacks?
GRANT: Not so much the same. I don’t think we ever had uniform blazers. We all had to wear ties at almost all occasions where we would be seen as a group, unless it was on or near the golf course. That’s my recollection. But I don’t recall ever having been given a red coat. [laughs]
INTERVIEWER: Navy blue with a Stanford “S” on the back of it
GRANT: No, never got one of those. We’d occasionally get a golf shirt. It wasn’t a very fully funded program you understand.
INTERVIEWER: Where there scholarships?
GRANT: I guess there were. It was a different world and I really don’t know. I was the son of a faculty member, so I got to go to Stanford for nothing. I’ve never really inquired what the deal was with others, but it certainly was not loaded with scholarship money. Grants in aid, maybe, but I don’t know whether any of our teams needed it. Chuck Van Linge was after me and he came from a modest family and he may well have had a scholarship or some help of some sort, but I think it was more, it was kind of improvised and I don’t think the NCAA had a huge set of rules, the sort we find today.

EDITOR'S NOTE - To review the Stanford golf team members over the past 75 years go to:

Posted by Bob Stevens

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coming Soon!

Look for articles and interviews about the current and former teams. We plan to interview each of the players and the head coach, Conrad Ray.

Notable players from the past will either contribute articles or be interviewed.