Walter Hagen : he might have said…
First and foremost, Walter Hagen passed away in 1969 at the age of 76. In no way do I wish to tarnish his name or legacy. He was a phenomenal golfer and one of the very first professionals that helped bring the game to the masses. The “interview” is strictly fiction and hypothetical. Thus, a “faux” (fictionalized) or imagined review on the state of golf today.
Needing little introduction
Walter Charles Hagen was born in 1892 in Rochester, NY. As many great players after him, he honed his craft while working as a caddy. His professional debut was in Canada in 1912, at the age of 19. Quick on the heels of his first tournament was a 4th place finish in the 1913 U.S. Open. While there, the other established pros treated him poorly. He vowed to come back the following year and “win it.” And that’s exactly what he did. The 1914 U.S. Open was contested at Midlothian Country Club in Illinois. Hagen proved victorious, propelling him to a career that saw him win 11 Major Championships.
Sir Walter and the Haig
Hagen was one of the first international golf superstars. His skill as a player wasn’t the only reason for this. He was one of golf’s first showmen. Suave, debonair, and with a penchant for life’s fineries. He once showed up for a tee time in the tuxedo he’d donned the night before. Pressure was his friend and his swashbuckling brand of golf probably lost him as many tournaments as he won. But this simply endeared him to his fans. 11 Majors and 45 PGA titles later, “the Haig or Sir Walter” as he was known, was a charter member of the PGA Hall of Fame. The guy effectively oozed cool. Arnold Palmer catapulted golf’s popularity in later years, but Hagen was a pioneer in this effort.
Comical Golfer sits down with Sir Walter
Fortunately for us, I had a chance to “discuss” the state of golf today with Mr. Hagen. The faux interview reveals some unique insights on what Sir Walter *might* really think.
Comical Golfer : Thanks so much for taking a bit of time to speak with me, Mr. Hagen. It’s truly an honor to spend time with a legend.
Walter Hagen : Think nothing of it, young man. I can’t visit for too long, though, I’ve got a match with Mickelson and McCord for a few dollars in about an hour. By the way, you can call me Walter or Haig.
CG : Ok Walter. Speaking of Phil, I suspect it’s for more than a “few dollars?”
WH : Son, unless you’re directly involved in the wager, there’s really no reason to discuss amounts.
CG : Right you are Haig. Forgive the prying.
WH : No worries.
CG : What did you think of Phil’s involvement in the stock scandal?
WH : To each his own, right? The guy took a chance on some stock, and it paid off. How he got his info is really none of my business. But it’d be really tough to say that anybody else in his (crocodile) shoes wouldn’t have done the same. That said, he’s in the public eye, so he really ought to be more careful. I’m still a little miffed that SOB didn’t give me the tip!
CG : (laughing) Yes, why didn’t he include you and me?!
WH : Well, I can’t answer that for sure. Maybe he was protecting us from ourselves.
CG : Fair enough.
CG : What do you think of the youngsters out on Tour today? The “big three” as they are sometimes referred to.
WH : Not sure where they got that big three stuff from. It ought to be the big twenty, as deep as the talent is now. But the media, yourself included, will do whatever you can to sensationalize something. I’m alright with that, though. It is your job after all.
CG : Yes sir, we have to attract readers. Apparently I need some more pointers on that!
WH : Ohh you’re doing ok Lefty.
CG : Thanks, Walter.
CG : So whose game do you like the most currently?
WH : (laughing) You’re not making this very easy on me! So many young, talented players today. Spieth’s hands were touched by the gods I tell ya. I haven’t seen anyone putt like him since Crenshaw maybe. Of course dollar for dollar, Nicklaus in his prime may have been the best putter that ever lived. Jordan does seem somewhat concerned with his imagined lack of distance. I see him trying to make a few changes to get more yards. That could be a mistake. He’s pretty much kicking everybody’s butt with the swing he’s had all his life. Why change?
CG : Good point Walter. If it ain’t broke….
WH : Exactly.
CG : Who else stands out among the others?
WH : Honestly, my opinion would match most of everyone else’s. Day, Rory, Bubba, Rose, DJ – all tremendous talents. But really any of the guys in the top 200 could win any given week. You just need a hot putter and a few breaks.
CG : Very true. The flat stick is a great equalizer.
WH : The greatest of all.
CG : Speaking of Bubba, do you feel he should have won more already?
WH : Well, yes and no. That homemade swing of his is something to watch!
CG : Agreed. I’m happy to donate my body to science when I go. But if I tried to swing like Bubba, they’d need to donate me to science fiction.
WH : (laughing) Yes! But what many fail to see is the actual genius in his movements. I don’t have the impact position photos handy on my phone, but I’d bet he looks a lot like Arnold or Jack when he’s at impact. Damn iOS update wiped out my pictures!
CG : Careful with those updates, Haig. You should back up to the cloud.
WH : Thanks, Captain Obvious. And if you can explain the cloud to me, I’d be most impressed.
CG : (laughing) Um, no Walter. I’ve got a better chance of a date with Michelle Pfeiffer than explaining or even understanding the cloud!
WH : Well thanks for nothing Einstein! But back to your question, Bubba has made a lot of progress. He can come across a bit whiny, moody, and temperamental. I believe he’s made some strides in getting past this. Had he done so sooner, he’d probably have at least 5 more wins by now. But I’m no sports psychologist. Who really knows what’s rattling around in that noggin of his?
CG : the Amazing Kreskin?
WH : (laughing) smartass!
CG : Moving on, were you glad to see John Daly get out on the Senior Tour?
WH : I was. JD has been a buddy for awhile now. Prodigious talent. Now there’s a guy that could have won plenty more. Booze, broads, and gambling ran him down. Completely understand that, though. We all have our crosses to bear. He’s got a chance to make a big impact out on the Senior Tour. I know I’m rooting for him. But I’ve got to have a sit down with him about his wardrobe. What’s the deal with those pants?
CG : (laughing) Must be one hell of an endorsement deal.
WH : If you say so.
CG : Speaking of style, you were quite the fashion plate in your days on Tour.
WH : Oh, I’m not sure about that. I always said if you can’t play good, you should look good. Can’t quite get a handle on today’s fashions. What happened to cuffed pants and wingtip golf shoes? That’s a combination that should never go out of style. Even if you get really colorful like Doug Sanders.
CG : Where do you get your golf shoes?
WH : Most of mine are custom made, but if I have to buy some, I’ll usually pick up a pair from Allen Edmonds. Nicklaus has a signature line of shoes with them, but I prefer the wingtips as you’re aware.
CG : Yes sir.
CG : What’s your take on the latest with Vijay?
WH : Who’s he suing now? That guy needs to give it a rest already. In my day, PEDs were scotch, cigarettes, and coffee. In no particular order.
CG : (laughing) Back when men were men, Haig?
WH: Damn right.
CG : I know your tee time is approaching, so I’ll try to wrap this up. What do you think is going to happen with Tiger?
WH : (audible groaning) Geez, you save the tough ones for last, huh?
CG : (laughing) C’mon Haig, it’s not that tough.
WH : No, you’re right. He’s going to win again. IF he gets out of his own way and just starts playing golf again. Now you’ve got to understand, he’s been attacking the golf ball for the better part of his 40 years. That’s going to take a toll on anyone’s body. But his foray into the Navy Seals probably did little to help his golf. See? You’ve got me going off on a tangent. Simply put, I believe Tiger will win again. Do I think he’ll pass Jack’s 18 Majors? No. But I do think he’ll win and get at least one more Major.
CG : Ok Walter, really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with me. Any parting wisdom?
WH : You betcha, happy to do it. Wisdom? Get out there and play. As I’ve said before, you’re only here for a short time. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go get in Mickelson’s wallet. If I can concentrate with all of McCord’s prattling!
CG : (laughing) Go get em, Haig!
WH : You bet!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sit down with a golfing legend. Do you think the faux interview with Mr. Hagen rings true? Feedback and comments are always appreciated.