Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hall of Famer Charlie Seaver shares thoughts about Stanford golf

Editor's Note Oct 2008 - Recently the Stanford men's golf team received a copy of a 1990 letter written by Charlie Seaver, charter member of the Stanford Hall of Fame, in which he responded to questions about his Stanford golf memories in addition to his other experiences playing golf. This letter was written to Gordon Ratliff who has done extensive research into the history of Stanford golf editing a book entitled Stanford Golf Clippings published in 1996.

The transcribed contents of the letter which include references to Lawson Little, Hogan, Hagen, Watson among others are included below. A scanned in version of the letter can be found at the following website:

Saturday, 8/19/90

Dear Gordon (Ratliff)

Sometime back you sent me a letter and enclosed information about golf at Stanford that you plan to include in your second book. You also requested that I provide pertinent data about earlier people, events, etc, of the 1929-1930 era that I can recall regarding Stanford.

1) I started playing golf with my father & teacher when I was 9 years old. He was a fine golfer and student of golf having won the Southern Calif. Amateur in 1920 and the Trans Mississippi Championship in K. C., Mo in 1908 when that Tournament was considered #2 in the U.S. Also, because my Dad was such a great golfer I enjoyed many opportunities to play with leading professionals including Hogen, Diegel, Farrell, Sarazen, MacDonald Smith, Bobby Jones & others. All this added up to be a valuable learning experience.

2) Lawson Little & I were the Freshman team leaders in 1930; we had a very strong team. Lawson beat me on the 37th hole for the 1st University Championship & I won the 2nd on the 38th. Great Competition. Eddie Twiggs had come down from the Olympic Club to coach the team - a very fine gentleman & an impeccable stylish dresser. He was an amateur member of Lakeside & a good but not great golfer.

3) The Stanford golf course was laid out & built by William P. Bell (Willie). He was a good friend & had built a number of golf courses in Southern Calif. where we both lived. Prior to attending Stanford I had played in 2 exhibition matches at fee golf courses he constructed at Sunset Fields - S. E of LA. – once with Hagen & Johnny Farrell & then with Hagen & Diegel. Also the brothers Olin & Mortee Dutra played as my guests in a quiet exhibition match shortly after the Stanford Course opened & then we went to the stadium for the Stanford - Dartmouth football classic. Ernie Cadell of Stanford was the star of the game & later became a Pro football player of fame & great ability.

4) In the thirties and forties when possible I used to play in the Alumni golf Matches. It was great experience - played with Sandy Tatum , Warren Berl, Chares (Bud) Finger. Later for years Stanford’s Golf Coach. Also Jim Rheim, Kent Winton, Chuck Van Linge & Grant Spaeth.

On one memorable occasion when playing Tom Watson we were in the middle of the fairway on #1 past the left bunker & at least 20 yards in front of our respective playing partners. My ball was about two yards ahead of Tom's. So while we waited for the others to hit their second shots I looked at Tom & said, "You had better check your ball. I think its dead”. He looked closely at his ball for an instant & then looked back at me & that broad boyish grin came over his face. We both laughed, but not a word was said. After that I did not think my ball was within 15 yards of his on any tee shot for the rest of the round.

5) I did not know Bennett & knew Van Gorder only slightly. I know nothing about Sylvia Potter Cain. I did not play with either Douglas or Joseph Grant but remember Douglas who was a great good friend of my father's. Douglas however was here at Cypress Point to congratulate me when with Mike Fetchik we were leading the Crosby the first day with a best ball of 58; - later he won in 1964.

6) I knew Almon Roth, the Stanford Comptroller to be a serious but pleasant person. He always looked & dressed well and looked every inch a banker.

7) There is a picture somewhere in the Stanford golf files - circa 1929-1930; - showing 6 or 8 Stanford University golfers with highest handicap 2. Also I played a lot of golf with Dink Templeton the famous track coach & with the even more famous Ty Cobb at Stanford.

Hope this helps - all the best Charles Seaver.