Thursday, May 04, 2006

Herbert Warren Wind
A Call For Induction

Part II of II

Enter 1957, a year that would yield one of golf’s most prolific educational volumes. “Five-Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”, was a three part collaboration. Ben Hogan provided the content and the final say over the text, Anthony Ravielli provided the intricate depiction of Hogan’s swing, and Herbert Warren Wind brought it all together. Putting down words the only way he knew how, with gusto. The book was an absolute disaster at the time of its release. The disappointing sales could have stemmed from the fact that the book itself, before being publishing, was dissected into five parts and published piece meal in Sports Illustrated. It would take roughly two decades for the book to gain mass appreciation and lead thousands of upstarts down the road to better golf.

It was the April of 1958 at Augusta National when Herbert Warren Wind watched Arnold Palmer come out victorious on Sunday with -4 when he coined the term Amen Corner after Palmer’s splendid play on the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes. The term came to Wind afterwards, while he had remembering an old spiritual jazz record he had once bought during his college days called “Shoutin’ in the Amen Corner.” In my opinion, a term such as this, to describe three holes such as these, can only be derived from a source of spiritual distinction.

However, Herb’s life at Sports Illustrated would only last for six years. He grew embittered and stale and always felt confined due to the strict deadlines. Often, he was sent on wild goose chases across the globe, only to view a portion of his entire story in print.

He returned to the New Yorker in 1960 where he would stay until his retirement in 1990. Now back at home, the New Yorker renewed Herb’s sense of worth, writing profile pieces on politicians, social figures, athletes, and of course, Golf.

The 1960’s not only brought Wind back to writing for the New Yorker, but it also let him spread his wings a bit and branch out into a different medium, television. For two years, Herb worked as a producer for Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf, often scripting the commentary used for the course description and the players bios as well.

Although his life in television was short lived, Herb always found solace in writing about the grand old game of Golf. Throughout his career, he penned his name to 14 volumes related to the subject, and a countless number of articles describing weekend warriors at their best, and sometimes, even those who may not have been.

Not often found in the press tents during his hey days of journalistic ingenuity, Herb would stalk the players on their own turf, keeping his keen eye for description peeled for those who he deemed noteworthy. His graceful writing style didn’t just tell you what took place on any given day, but painted a picture so complete that the reader would have autonomous sensory perception.

Not easily mistaken for someone else while in the hunt for a story, Herb’s distinguishing characteristics on the course were omnipresent. Always wearing a tie, tweed jacket and carrying his walking stick, Herb exemplified panache, no matter what the temperature was.

In 1995, the USGA presented Herbert Warren Wind with the Bob Jones Award, an award that has been presented annually since 1955. The honor itself is bestowed upon those who demonstrate and maintain the highest degree of sportsmanship, spirit, and attitude towards the game of Golf and its competitors in the manner in which only Bobby Jones knew how.

Herbert Warren Wind passed away on May 30, 2005. When he left us, it was the end of a great era. It is my belief that he should be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame for his great number of contributions to the game of Golf and his impact on the craft of writing prose.

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