Friday, April 28, 2006

Herbert Warren Wind
A Call For Induction

Part I of II

The name Herbert Warren Wind serves up images of golf mysticism, descriptive lore, and a genuine love for the game of golf. It has been 11 months since Wind passed away due to a struggling bout with pneumonia, but his name, his work, and his unique perspective of golf will forever be remembered.

Herbert Warren Wind was born in Brockton Massachusetts on August 11, 1916. Herb’s father, Max Wind, was one of the many fine, upstanding professionals in Brockton who contributed to one of the cities most profitable exports, shoes. Which, at this point in time were all primarily made of leather.

Herb began to take an early interest in the game of golf at the age of seven, where he could be found practicing at the Thorny Lea Golf Club with his father.

Not much has been made of Wind’s up-bringing up until his enrolment into Yale University in 1933 where he stayed and eventually graduated in 1937. He soon set sail over The Pond and enrolled at the University of Cambridge where he performed his graduate work in English. It is during this time in Wind’s life that he would be forever changed. Two things happened to him while saying in the United Kingdom.

The first experience was meeting Bernard Darwin, the definitive author of golf at the time. Darwin was the grandson of the (r)evolutionary thinker Charles Darwin. As with natural selection, golf deviates very little, survival of the fittest is the mantra we abide by.
The second epiphany was more like a string of occurrences. By residing in the United Kingdom, Wind was now able to play some of Western Europe’s greatest courses, which he of course did. Later in his life, he wrote about them in his articles, informing those of us in the Unites States that golf was very much alive and well in Europe.

Once graduate work was complete, Herb came home to America where he was hired on for his first stint as a reporter for the New Yorker in 1948. Herb was versatile. He was often assigned to profile the ongoing changes in the New York social scenes as they related to theatres, operas and concerts. These assignments often took Herb far from the tree lined fairways of the botanical vistas we see on a week to week basis. His love for golf however at this time in his life goes without question.

His method was quite simple. Sit down, and write. And when I say write, I mean write. Herbert Warren Wind wrote every published word down on nothing but yellow legal pads. Draft after draft, the man was a methodical machine-like creator of timeless prose.

On August 16, 1954, Wind took a gamble in with his career. He left the New Yorker and started work at an un-established, brand new upstart magazine called Sports Illustrated. One of the founding editors of the magazine, Herb fostered its slow growth into the Baby Booming era when economic prosperity reigned, and television was king. With these two factors in place, sports were no longer sports, they were pastimes.

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