• U.S.

Sport: Grapefruit Opener

2 minute read

Professional Golfer Gene Sarazen, one-time British and twice U. S. Open Champion, recently said: “Any man is crazy to take up golf as a profession. . . .” Professional golfers receive no salary for their competitive performances, are rewarded only when they outplay 100 to 500 opponents and finish in the money. When a professional wins the National Open championship, No. 1 U. S. golf event, he receives only $1,000 cash—about the same amount a second-rate prize fighter gets as a preliminary attraction to a world-cham-pionship fight—plus advertising which has no fixed cash value.

Nevertheless, some 300 of the country’s best golfers last week prepared to spend the winter trudging around the “grapefruit circuit,” a coast-to-coast series of tournaments sponsored by southern hotels, newspapers and chambers of commerce.

They will pay their own traveling expenses, hotel bills and caddies, with no guarantee of being a dollar richer—in kudos or in cash—when they return.

For the opening tournament at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. only 80 competitors turned up—possibly because White Sulphur is the home course of Sam Snead, sensational 25-year-old pro who in his second year of big-time golf has been a bugaboo to his confreres. Up to last week he had earned the astounding sum of $17,572 in tournament competition this year—$10,000 more than second-running Johnny Revolta and $2,000 more than the all-time record set by Horton Smith in 1929.

If Snead’s colleagues feared that he might be doubly dangerous on his home course, they were exactly right. Except for a momentary lapse when he bungled a piddling putt, he gave his hillbilly neighbors something to chaw over. He took a two-under-par 68 on each of the first two rounds, a 69 on the third and then, after trailing Ky Laffoon by one stroke at the 63rd hole, the pride of White Sulphur Dreezed through the final nine in a whirlwind 32 for a seven-under-par total of 273 —and first prize of $700.

Chattering over their “Sam Snead sundaes” in the village drugstore, natives figured that the youngest of the Snead boys had earned $18,272 this year, was anything but crazy to have taken up golf as a profession.

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