Samuel Jackson Snead
By joe jones on 7/5/12
Joseph Jones is well on his way to becoming a regular contributor on oob, and for that, we applaud him! Here is his latest submission. If you missed his previous submissions, you can read them here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

When Tiger Woods won at Congressional it suddenly became apparent to everyone that not only was he chasing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors but he was also within reach of Sam Snead's Record of 82 wins on the PGA tour. The ironic thing is this week he will be trying to get even closer to the record at the Greenbrier Classic. Snead became the head pro at Greenbrier in 1944 and was Pro emeritus until his death.

Much like fine wine, old whiskey and fine brandy certain athletes seem to age to perfection. They are apparently not affected by the stresses and strains that force other mere mortals to hang up the tools of their trade to sink slowly into the sunset.
Sam Snead was one of those athletes.

Consider this.

He won 82 tour PGA tour events and another 70 worldwide.

In 1938 he won the first of his eight Greater Greensboro Opens. He won it the last time in 1965 at the age of 52 making him the oldest to win a PGA event.

In 1974 at the age of 62 he shot one under par 279 to come in third place behind Lee Trevino at the PGA Championship.

In 1978 at the age of 67 he won the first Legends of Golf which was the impetus for the formation of what has become the senior tour.

In 1979 he was the youngest player to ever shoot his age (67) in the second round of the Quad Cities Open.

In 1983 at the age of 71 from the back tee's at the Homestead in Hot Springs he shot a 12 under par round of 62.

The Golf Channel often shows old matches between players of the era. I was watching a show from 1960 from Rancho Santa Fe Country Club against George Bayer, one of the longest hitters that ever played the game. Using his Wilson persimmon driver and the rocks they called balls in those days Sam hit one drive 325 yards and several in the 300 yard range. He was out driving Bayer by an average of 15 yards. His moniker of Slammin Sammy Snead or the Slammer was well earned.

Some people don't think of golfers as athletes but Sam was one of the greatest athletes of all time. His natural flexibility and grace produced what may have been the most beautiful swing of all time. He was a generic freak. At 80 he could kick his foot high enough to hit the top of a door opening. He could bend over and put his palms flat on the floor without bending his knees.

I was fortunate to see Snead, Mickey Wright and Moe Norman hit golf balls both on the practice range and on the course. These were not exhibitions but practice sessions. I include Norman not because his swing was as pure and beautiful as either Snead or Wright's but because it was so functional he could repeat it over and over and hit the most precise shots I have ever seen. The one constant with the three of them was the crowd of fellow pro's they would attract. When they started to hit balls everything came to a stop and a crowd would gather to watch in awe. Everything looked so easy. I imagine Ben Hogan had the same effect but if a crowd developed he would leave the range. Almost like he didn't want to share his secret.

During his career Sam had a very strange relationship with his peers. There was a great deal of animosity on both sides. Sam was often described as being sullen, cantankerous and ornery. He also had a reputation of being totally lacking in social graces. He was crude and took great pleasure in telling the most off color jokes in mixed crowds which annoyed the married players in the group.

Sam wrote a book called Pigeons, Marks and Hustlers in which he described some of the methods he used to take money from others. He often bet that he could beat them left handed which wasn't difficult because he was ambidextrous and could play almost as well from either side. He had a famous saying, "Give me a rich man with a fat wallet, a big ego and a fast back swing and I'll be a millionaire".

He also had a reputation of being cheap. It was said that he must have cans of money all around his property because “he never spent a dime”.

His closest friends however said he was generous to a fault with his loved ones and was a soft touch to many over the years.
The truth is he was one of a kind. We probably will never see another one like him.

This was written by Joseph Jones, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

Image via Wikipedia


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[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
Very good article, I am going to go and find some Snead swing videos now. I like the fact he was a dick on the course.
7/5/12
 
Wes11point5 says:
The most beautiful golf swing EVER!!
7/5/12
 
SteveMM says:
If you're a Sam Snead fan, be sure to try to make the trek to The Homestead. They have a ton of Snead memorabilia. You can also play a course that he literally helped build. He was on the work crews that constructed The Cascades course, and was later a golf pro there. He also caddied at the Old Course, if I'm not mistaken.
7/5/12
 
bducharm says:
The golf teacher Chuck Cook told a great story one day. He was doing teaching clinics at Pinehurst and he would have Mr. Snead come out and hit some shots for the folks. One day, he said Mr. Snead was in a particularly snarly mood and Chuck asked him what was wrong. Mr. Snead said, "I don't know why you ask me to hit those shots for these people - they can't hit them any way!" I think Mr. Snead was also credited with this - a guy asks him how he made a ball spin and back up. Mr. Snead ask the guy how far he hit his driver. The answered "220". Mr. Snead shot back "then why the hell would you want to back the ball up!" TOO FUNNY!!!
7/5/12
 
CodeSlinger says:
"he shot a 12 under par round of 62"

Par 74?
7/6/12
 
joe jones says:
Sorry for the typo. He shot 60.
7/6/12
 
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