Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Arnie Met Winnie


Golf has never been the same – by William Kelly

Arnold Palmer recently dedicated a park to his late wife Winnie, granting her wish that the land remain undeveloped, and epitomizing a love story that continues to enamor the game of golf. (1)

When and where they met became an historic occasion, and their adventures together on the U.S. PGA golf tour, which attracted millions of new fans to the game, added an everlasting love story to the legacy of the game.

The time and place are set in stone – September 1952 – at Shawnee-on-the-Delaware, Fred Waring’s Pocono, Pennsylvania resort (2), but it was social circumstances and the state of the game of golf at the time that would create a situation that would change the nature of the game forever.

Three local players with strong ties to Jersey Shore were there at the time - Howard Everett, a great amateur, and Atlantic City / Mays Landing Country Club professionals Stan Dudas and Ron Ward, each giving a unique perspective to the situation.

Howard Everett worked at Shawnee as a publicist for Fred Waring, a big band leader whose popular radio show featured the orchestra playing live from his resort, Shawnee-on-the Delaware. Waring’s annual golf tournament was the social event of the season, and it was Everett’s job to make it a success, but nobody could have predicted what transpired.

Howard Everett is a throwback to another era when the best players were amateurs, and he knew Palmer from playing against him in match play during the 1948 Pennsylvania Amateur (Everett defeated Palmer, lost to Art Wall).

"I invited Palmer to Shawnee before he won the Amateur," Everett recalled in an interview shortly before he died. Palmer later acknowledged that he had previously declined invitations to Fred Waring’s tournament because he couldn’t afford to go, but after winning the national amateur championship, and having a steady job selling paint, he made Shawnee his first tournament as the new champion.

"And that’s when he met Winnie," said Everett, "and so I was in the thick of the beginning of that romance. But the story goes back much further than that. It all goes back to Atlantic City."

Everett was known for playing out of Manufacturers Hanover club in suburban Philadelphia, but he lived in a house next to the old practice fairway at the Atlantic City Country Club, and was close friends with club owner Leo Fraser.

In 1950 Bucky Worsham was the pro at Atlantic City, and Arnold Palmer was a seaman stationed at the Cape May Coast Guard base, not far away.

Palmer had been close friends with Bucky’s younger brother Buddy Worsham, who came from a family of fine golfers (Brother Lew won the 1947 U.S.Open). Arnie and Buddy Worsham both went to Wake Forest on golf scholarships and were roommates, but when Buddy died suddenly in a car accident, Palmer quit school and enlisted in the Coast Guard.

While stationed at Cape May, Palmer laid out his first course (3) and played at a number of Jersey Shore courses, including the Wildwood Country Club, Somers Point-Ocean City (now Greate Bay) and Atlantic City Country Club, where Bucky Worsham, the older brother of his late best friend, was the pro.

At Atlantic City Palmer played in the annual Sonny Fraser tournament, a popular mid-amateur event (won by Sonny Fraser, Dr. Cary Middlecoff, Julious Boros, et al.) that Everett had won a record six times.

As Howard Everett said, it all goes back to Atlantic City.


There was always a strong affinity between the Atlantic City Country Club and Shawnee. The Shawnee amateurs played Atlantic City every year. They put up a memorial plaque and planted a tree out by the front door of the club next to the trolley bell. And at the end of the Tap Room, above the bay window that overlooks the course, there is an old, brown panoramic photo of the old Shawnee.

While Atlantic City was built in 1897, Shawnee was built a decade later in 1907, the first course designed by famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast, one of the players with the group that coined the term "birdie" at Atlantic City, and one of the most prolific and influential of the early American golf course designers.

Shawnee is a dramatic 27 hold course, with 24 of the holes on an island on the Delaware River. The Buckwood Inn was built a few years after the course was laid out, making it a popular resort, and in 1913 Shawnee was the host of one of the most popular golf tournaments in the country, which attracted most of the U.S. Open field.

Johnny McDermott, the two-time defending U.S. Open champion was the 20 year old Atlantic City Country Club pro, the first native born American and at 19, the youngest and still the youngest to have ever won the U.S. Open national golf championship. The tournament at Shawnee was held a week before the 1913 U.S. Open, which that year was at the Country Club at Brookline, Massachusetts.

McDermott and all the top golfers played in the Buckwood tournament, which McDermott won handily, defeating Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, arguably the two greatest golfers to ever play the game, by eight strokes. McDermott then gave a speech and promised that the U.S. Open trophy would not leave the country that year. That speech, which reporters wired around the world, put golf on the front page of every newspaper in the country and English speaking world, and set up the "Greatest Game Ever Played," won by local Brookline amateur Francis Ouimet. (4)

That game sparked a letter promoting the idea of creating a professional golf association. This letter was cited by Rodman Wanamaker in his remarks at the 1938 PGA Championship at Shawnee (won by local pro Paul Runyan over Sam Snead), (5) and for whom the PGA Champion Wanamaker Trophy is named after.

In 1943 longtime Shawnee owner C.C. Worthington sold the Buckwood Inn and the golf course to big band leader Fred Waring, who renamed it the Shawnee Inn. (6)


That’s where Stan Dudas comes in. Dudas, another witness to when Arnie met Winnie, quit school in the ninth grade and left his Simpson, Pennsylvania coal mining hometown an aimless runaway, until he was picked up hitchhiking by Fred Warring.

Warring talked Dudas into going with him to Shawnee, where Dudas started out working as a bus boy in the dining room but quickly gravitated to the pro shop. There he earned tips for cleaning clubs and learned lessons in golf and life from Harry Obitz, the pro at the time, and his assistant Spec Hannon. Spec had been a caddy for Walter Hagen and Harry and Spec taught Dudas to play golf. After a few years Fred Warring thought he was good and sent young Dudas, then only seventeen, out on the winter pro tour, paying his way.

"I was young, the first time I was on my own," recalled Dudas, who passed away in March.(7)"I was with great guys – Jimmy Demaret, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, the top players on the tour at the time. Demaret was a real colorful character and we got to be buddies right away."

Of course Jimmy Demaret was the last guy you wanted your seventeen year old to pal around with. As the first three-time Masters champion with 31 PGA tour wins, Demaret was also one of the most flamboyant players to ever play the game. Although he broke the scoring record at the 1948 US Open and still lost to fellow Texan Ben Hogan, Demaret was best known as a flashy dresser and the life of the tour party for over twenty years. (8) So it’s a matter of opinion on how much Jimmy Demaret helped or hurt Stan Dudas on the tour.

Returning to Shawnee to work every summer, Stan Dudas was a young, but major player in the golf game at Shawnee when Arnold Palmer arrived to play in this special tournament.


As Howard Everett recalled, "At the time I was working publicity for Fred Warring at Shawnee-on-the Delaware, as they called it, and I had invited Arnie ahead of time, to participate in this tournament that Warring called the Young Masters. I had invited him before he won the U.S. Amateur, and Fred Warring kidded me and said that since he won the championship he probably wouldn’t come to our tournament. I said not only would he come, but he was bringing his boss (Cleveland paint dealer Bill Wehnes) and his boss’ wife, and I told him who they were."

After winning the national amateur Palmer said he intended to stay an amateur, like Ouimet and Everett, and looked forward to playing in the next Walker Cup in England.

In his autobiography, A Golfer's Life (9) Palmer wrote that he hadn’t decided to turn pro, even after winning the U.S. Amateur. "I like selling paint," Palmer said, "I have no intention of turning professional. I am very happy and my new title automatically puts me on the Walker Cup team."

"At the moment I said this, I really meant it. With a six-month apprenticeship required by the PGA Tour, a period during which you could take no official prize money, I simply couldn’t imagine how I could make a living on the tour. So I pointed out that the Walker Cup would be contested in England the next spring and I couldn’t wait to go there. I also note that my next golfing goal was the British Amateur crown."

"They say lightning never strikes the same spot twice, but my tale is proof that it sometimes can strike you again when you least expect it to. In this case, lighting of a very different nature struck me within days of hoisting the Amateur trophy. My words – to say nothing of the direction of my life – abruptly changed."

"Mother hadn’t been back home in Latrobe for more than a few days when she got a phone call from Fred Waring, the celebrated bandleader of the Pennsylvanians, inviting me to play in his annual golf tournament, the Waite Memorial, at Shawnee-on-the-Delaware. Fred had invited me to his annual golf shindig before, but I could never afford to go. Now that I was the new National Amateur champion I was more anxious to go, but I’d been away from my job so much of the summer I felt bad asking Bill Wehnes for yet another week off."

"Bill solved the problem by telling me, ‘…we’ll all drive down there.’"

Besides publicists Howard Everett and Stan Dudas, Ron Ward was another young golf pro at Shawnee who would later become the pro at Atlantic City and Wildwood Country Clubs, and is now at Mays Landing Country Club.

Ward recalls, "… I got to Shawnee on June 2nd of 1952, and I left there about the middle of October, 1960, and then I became the pro at Atlantic City, April 1st, 1961," so Ward was new at Shawnee when Palmer arrived.

Ward recalled that, "Howard Everett was kind of a general manager. Fred Waring liked him. I always said that Howard Everett was one of the original Arnold Palmers, because as an amateur he was really good, and he was a good looking guy, and he could really wack the hell out of that ball."

As for how Arnie met Winnie, Ward says, "Here’s what happened. Arnold Palmer was working for a guy named Bill Wehnes, who was in the paint business. And Bill used to come to Shanwnee with his beautiful wife. Palmer worked for Bill as a paint seller. So Bill came to Shawnee, and Fred Waring had this big invitational tournament that always started the day after Labor Day. So Bill Wehnes wanted to bring Arnold to play and he had him entered in the tournament, but then Arnold won the U.S. Amateur at the Detroit Country Club on that Saturday, increasing interest in the tournament at Shawnee the following week."

"So anyway, Arnie wins the national amateur out of the blue," recalls Ward. "He wasn’t expected to win it, he wasn’t favored like Tiger Woods was, but he won the national championship and then comes to play this little tournament at Shawnee."

As Ward recalls the situation, "Fred Warning, who owned the place, had a daughter named Dixie, and Dixie’s buddy was Winnie Walzer. The Walzer family liked to hang around the club but they didn’t play golf. Mr. Walzer sold food, and him and Mr. Waring became friends. So that’s what Winnie was doing there. She used to hang around the pool a lot. I never did see her on the golf course, but she was a cute little girl."

At first Palmer drifted towards the other young players, including Stan Dudas and Ronnie Ward, but as Ward recalls, "There were these cute girls around – Fred’s daughter Dixie was a cuttie pie, and her friend Winnie was as cute as a bell," and it was Winnie Walzer who caught Palmer’s eye and got his attention.

Palmer remembers the moment quite clearly. "The tournament festivities began over Labor Day weekend. We arrived on Monday and checked into the Shawnee Inn, a beautiful rustic lodge abuzz with tournament activities. I immediately went out on the golf course to play a practice round, and as I was coming back into the inn I saw a couple of pretty girls coming down the stairway that led to the main lobby. One of them was Dixie Waring, Fred’s daughter. But it was the quieter, prettier, dark-haired one that really caught my eye. She had smoky good looks, and her demeanor had a clear sheen of class."

As Stan Dudas recalled it, they played some golf and then mingled around the club until at some point Palmer just blurted out, "Who is That girl?," obviously speaking about Winnie Walzer.

"When Arnie met Winnie, it was love at first sight," said Everett, but there still had to be formal introductions.

"Fred had a secretary, Cora Ballard, who was good at things like that," said Ward, "and she probably introduced them formally."

That’s how Palmer remembers it, describing Waring’s longtime secretary, Cora Ballard as "a whisky-voiced redhead," who "paused and introduced me to the two girls she was chaperoning for the week, the tournament’s official ‘hostesses,’ and I shook hands with Winifred Walzer."

"What I guess I failed to notice, smitten as I was with her, was that almost everybody around us save (her father) Shube Walzer (who was back home in Coopersburg, by the way) was shamelessly promoting the match – and all these years later it amuses me how many people claim they had the critical hand in bringing us together."

"If you don’t have anything to do," Palmer said to her, ‘why don’t you come out and watch the golf.’"

"Perhaps I will," she replied with a smile.

"I think I learned she and Dixie Waring were old chums from Shawnee, and I must have been thinking Winnie must be a rich girl from Philadelphia’s Main Line. She was so refined and polished. Little did I know she was really from the village of Coopersburg, just outside Bethlehem, and though her father, Shube, was successful enough in the canned foods business to afford a summer cottage at Shawnee, the Walzers were by no means wealthy in the sense of Philadelphia wealth. She only hobnobbed with girls from the Main Line. Winnie was nineteen, studying interior design at Brown University’s affiliated design school at Pembroke College, aiming to be an interior decorator. Unbeknownst to me she was a veteran of Shawnee’s social swirl and had even dated some of the most eligible bachelor golfers, including my old adversary Harvie Ward."

"I don’t think I saw her at the dinner that was held that evening, but I was pleased when I glanced over the next afternoon and saw her watching from the edge of the eleventh fairway. Years later I learned that was purely an accident – she was really en route to watch her ‘Uncle Fred’ Waring play golf. Fred, who was in the foursome directly behind mine, was deeply fond of Winnie and almost jealously protective of her. Anyway, I sauntered over and asked if she ‘planned to tag along’ and made small talk with her and wondered if she would be interesting in sitting with me at the dinner dance scheduled for later that evening. She said she would, and I went on about my business with a new spring in my step."

"Winnie, I began to learn that night, was unlike any girl I ever met, not just pretty and comfortable in almost any social situation, but also smart, well traveled (she’d just come home from a big European trip), engagingly independent minded, even something of a would-be social rebel. The only girl in a close-knit Moravian family that included two brothers and a host of boy cousins, she had a grandfather who was a minister and uncles who were college professors. She had grown up absorbing the blows from baseball games and kick-the-can with her male cousins, but also kept her father’s books from an early age. She had pluck and ambition, and she didn’t suffer vain or pretentious fools easily. Her mother, Mary, was something of a sweet social butterfly who may have entertained hopes that Winifred would become a proper debutante in due course, but feisty Winnie Walzer wanted none of that…..We became inseparable for the rest of the week,…"

The electricity between Arnie and Winnie didn’t go unnoticed and even played into the odds on the tournament.

"Arnie’s walking around holding Winnie’s hand, and I’m betting against him in the tournament," recalls Ward, "because my boss the golf Harry Obits always said, ‘Don’t mix girls and golf.’ So during the tournament I bet against Arnie. But he could hold Winnie’s hand and still beat everybody, and he won it."

"Nobody had to bring us together or promote the match," notes Palmer. "By Friday night my amateur partner, Tommy Sheehan, and I were leading the tournament, but more important, I was completely taken with Winnie Walzer and a plan was forming in my brain."

Palmer: "But that first evening at the dinner dance she got a taste of the unexpected impact sudden ‘fame’ can have on a young man’s life. I happened to be dancing with an older golf professional’s wife when she suddenly seized my shoulder and whispered damply into my ear, "Take me away from all this. Let’s me and you run away together!’"

"The poor women sounded desperate – and frighteningly serious. She had four children and a swell husband, and she scared the daylights out of me. So I slunk back to the table. After a while, I told Winnie what had happened, and she laughed. That was another thing I loved about Winnie Walzer, her robust and infectious laugh. She had a no-nonsense, down-to-earth way of placing everything in perspective, I was discovering, including alcohol-fueled dance floor confessions from older women. What I didn’t know then was that, despite our wonderful week of intimate conversation about family and golf and life in general, typically held after my rounds in the club bar where underage Winnie could sip her favorite Fitzgerald Old Fashions, come Friday night my beautiful escort was watching me go through the buffet line with more than casual interest…."

"At the dinner, I reached under the table and took her hand and said, ‘What would you think if I asked you to get married.?’"

"The question appeared to startle her, though only for a second or two. ‘Well, I don’t know. This is so sudden. Can I have a day to think about it?’ she replied."

"‘Not too long,’ I said to her. ‘I have places to go.’"

"I told her my grand plan: we would get married in the spring and use the Walker Cup tournament as our honeymoon. She assured me that her mother and aunts would love that romantic plan – as they did. She told me her father would probably grumble a lot but would eventually come around because he wanted his only daughter to be happy. For such a crack judge of character, she either overestimated her father’s capacity to appreciate romance or underestimated his contempt for unconventional suitors for his daughter. As it turned out, the last thing Shube Walzer wanted was his daughter marrying a golf bum, which is pretty much what he thought of all the tournament golfers in those days."

Winnie’s brother Marty Walzer recalls that Saturday in 1954 when he noticed his parents and 19 year old sister talking in their Coopersburg, Pennsylvania home. "I was 13," he said, "old enough to know that just from the way they were talking, it was serious. The previous Tuesday night, Arnold, who had just won the United States Amateur, had met Winnie at a party for a golf tournament at Shawnee-on-the-Delaware, and now she was telling my mother and father that on Friday night Arnold had proposed to her."

"I suppose it was no surprise that word quickly leaked out about the proposal." Palmer himself recalls. "Winnie quickly informed her mother, who was happy as expected, and her mother broke the news to her father – who wasn’t remotely happy to hear about it. Shube had heard such declared intentions from his headstrong daughter before and, I think, felt love would run its course in due time. At the final presentation dinner, Fred Waring startled everybody by announcing that I wasn’t only taking the tournament trophy home from Shawnee-on-the-Delawere, but a fiancĂ©e as well."

But it wasn’t that easy. Like all young love, there was a bit of uncertainty after Palmer left Shawnee for Florida, where his father accompanied him to the Miami Open.

In Florida with his father, Deacon Palmer later said Arnie couldn’t stop thinking about that girl. As Everett explained it, "In Florida, after working and living in a hotel room for a few days the Deak said, ‘Arnie, I think you got this sewed up, so why are you so downhearted and out of sorts?’"

"And I got this from the Deacon himself, he said, ‘Dad, I will never feel right until I go back to Shawnee and see whether I want to marry that girl.’"

Palmer remembers it a little bit differently, as he recalls, "…I asked Pap to accompany me to the first event, the Miami Open….I missed the cut and was boiling mad at myself, I returned to the motel only to find a message from my old girlfriend, the Cleveland model; she was in town working and wanted to get together for a few drinks. That seemed like just the remedy I needed, so I went out and returned sometime after midnight only to find Pap waiting up for me – and as mad at me as I’ve ever seen him. Through clenched teeth he asked me where the hell I’d been and I told him truthfully – out for some drinks and a few laughs with an old friend, nothing too serious, all pretty innocent."

"’You’re engaged and you’ve got an obligation to that girl back in Pennsylvania,’ he snarled at me."

" ‘Do you love her?’ he snapped,….Then you better go get her and get married and get on with your business and quit screwing around like a college boy. Do you understand me?’ I did indeed."

"I was there working when Arnie came back to Shawnee," said Everett, "and took a lot of pictures of everyone. Stan Dudas was there, and Ronnie Ward, both later became Atlantic City pros. We played a round with Fred Warring and Palmer, and of course Winnie was there and walked the whole 18 holes with us."

But things had changed in the meantime. For one, while Palmer won the money to buy Winnie an engagement ring by playing his boss and a few friends over three rounds at Pine Valley, he suddenly decided to turn pro.

While they were playing golf back at Shawnee, Stand Dudas suggested Palmer go to Bermuda and play in a tournament with him as an amateur, but Palmer said to Dudas, "No Stan, I’m going to turn pro." It was a startling announcement.

Palmer later explained that in order to earn enough money for an engagement ring for Winnie, he shot a remarkable 67, 69 and 68 in three rounds at Pine Valley, collecting enough money in bets from his boss and friends to buy a decent ring. But playing those three rounds at Pine Valley also gave him the confidence and the belief that he could make it on the pro tour, and the realization that he had to turn pro in order to support a family.

"It was while we were there in that ultimate golf terrarium (Pine Valley)," wrote Palmer, "that I had time to think about what Winnie and I were really up against. My salesman salary scarcely covered my own expenses, much less those of a married couple in need of a first house and possibly children in the near future…and as much as I liked the proposed scenario of a big church wedding in the spring and steaming off to England for the Walker Cup, in my heart I saw only one way for us to make it as man and wife. I would need to turn pro."

As Ron Ward points out, "Back in those days it was better to stay amateur because there wasn’t that much money in turning pro, so amateurs stayed amateurs, they didn’t turn pro."

But for a guy like Palmer, like Walter Hagan ahead of him, he could envision the ability to take his game to another level, and then take the game of golf to another level with him.

But how to break the news to Winnie? "…We met in the afternoon at the New Yorker Hotel," explains Palmer, " and – talk about a potentially bad omen – checked in just as some poor chap committed suicide by leaping from an upstairs window. A little later in the bar, still shaken, Winnie probably thought our plans were crashing too, when I informed her of my change in strategy – namely, that I’d decided to turn pro and that we should probably get married as soon as possible, certainly before the start of the new Tour season out west. England and the Walker Cup were out; the uncertain life of a Tour rookie’s bride was in."

"Her face fell, but she didn’t seem as upset as I thought she might be at this idea, though she needlessly pointed out that her father wasn’t going to like this news any better than the last."

''My mother was all for it,'' Marty Walzer said, ''but Dad had reservations. He came around eventually, but after Winnie and Arnold had their two daughters, Peggy and Amy, I remember Dad telling Arnold, 'You wait and see, you'll feel the same way I did.' ''

But at the time he was dead set against his only daughter getting married to a golf bum.

"My mother and Pap took an instant shine to Winnie when they met her the following week in Latrobe. Back in Coopersburg, the female family think tank already had big wedding plans well under way, but there was still no movement on the Shube Walzer front. Shube was tough customer, a successful businessman who loathed Roosevelt and the socially liberal policies of just about any other Democrat. Pap, on the other hand, was a strong Democrat and devoted Roosevelt man who thought the late president hung the moon. In some ways, the families hailed no just from different ends of Pennsylvania, but different ends of the planet."

So instead of getting married in a big church wedding with a reception with all their friends and family back at the country club, they eloped to Falls Church, Virginia, not far from the home of Arnold’s sister Cheech, where they were married.

As Palmer put it, "We spent our honeymoon night at a trucker’s motel off the Breezewood exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It wasn’t terribly romantic, and in retrospect, it makes me realize what a true gem I had found in Winifred Walzer. Here was this classy, educated, beautiful girl who risked her father’s eternal wrath and gave up her girlhood wedding dreams and goodness knows what else to follow a guy who’d never made a plugged nickel as a professional golfer."

And so they set out, hitched to a trailer, at the same time television started to broadcast tournaments. They slowly picked up Arnie’s Army, took golf to prime time and brought millions of new amateur players into the game, taking golf to another level of popularity.

And things have never been quite the same.

William Kelly is the author of Birth of the Birdie – The First 100 Years of Golf at Atlantic City Country Club, and is currently writing The Flight of the Eagle on the growth of golf in America. He can be reached at


1) Winnie's nature preserve.

2) Shawnee Inn

3) Palmer’s First Course

4) The Greatest Game, not the Greatest Movie

5) Shawnee Today See:

6) Fred Waring bio

7) Stan Dudas RIP

8) Jimmy Demaret].

9) A Golfer’s Life (with James Dodson, Ballantine Books, NY, 1999)

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Conversation With Ronnie Ward

A phone conversation with Ron Ward (October, 2007)

BK: Hello Ron, its Bill Kelly.

RW: Hey Kell, what’s cookin’ buddy? Sorry I missed your earlier call, I was playing golf.

BK: You’re a lucky guy.

RW: I know I am. I’m trying to get to be a good player.

BK: I’m working on a story about how Arnie met Winnie and….

RW: I was there.

BK: I know you were there, that’s why I’m calling. I had previously talked with Howard Everett and he mentioned you were there, along with Stan Dudas.

RW: Tonight I was walking down the eighteenth hole at Wildwood in the dark. I played till' dark like a six fifteen with a cart and then they didn't want any more carts out and I didn't want to hold them up. So I walked. At Mays landing I can play with a cart after dark because I've got a key to te cart shed. Well, anyway, I was walking down the eighteenth hole just now in the dark and I was think, I went to Brookline when Curtis Strange won two Opens in a row. So I was walking down the eighteenth green at Brookline, and do you know who Herbert Warren Wind is?

BK: Great golf writer.

RW: He went to school with a guy I worked with – he always called him "Herbie." So I finally met him and I said "Do you remember…John?"

So I’m walking down the 18th hole at Brookline and there’s Herbert Warren Wind and I’m walking down with him, and he says, see that house over there? That’s the house that Francis Ouimet lived in when he won the Open. That was a wonderful sight and I was just thinking about that tonight, so what is it you want to know?

BK: 1913 Open. Well here’s the connection to what you just told me. The 1913 U.S. Open was the greatest game ever played, not just because Ouimet, a 20 year old amateur won it, but because Johnny McDermott had won the two previous U.S. Opens. McDermott beat Vardon and Ray at Shawnee a week before the Open at Brookline and promised them they wouldn’t take the US championship trophy home with them. That threat put golf on the front pages of newspapers and made the 1913 Open a news story.

RW: I knew McDermott, because he hung out at Atlantic City when I was the pro there.

BK: He was the youngest ever to win the US Open, and still is at 19.

RW: And first American.

BK: There’s a book The Greatest Game.

RW: They made a movie of that too.

BK: Yea, and in the movie they have McDermott six foot two red head, when he wasn’t that tall or outlandish.

RW: He was near 70s when I knew him, a few years before he died because Leo Fraser took pretty good care of him.

BK: Yes, there’s a picture of them together in my book. Anyway, that tournament that caused all the commotion over the 1913 Open was at Shawnee, or what they called it before it became Shawnee. There was always some connections between Atlantic City and Shawnee going back to McDermott’s win there. The Shawnee amateur golfers planted a tree and put up a plaque by the front door near the trolley bell, and above the bay windows in the Taproom there’s an old, brown and white panoramic photo of Shawnee that’s there for a reason.

RW: Oh, no kidding, I never realized that.

BK: In any case, there’s a number of connections between Atlantic City and Shawnee, including you.

RW: Well, yea, I worked at Shawnee for nine years, and then I was starting to have lots of kids and I started looking into some pro jobs, one in Albany, New York, and another in Elizabeth Manor in Virginia Beach. Then Stan Dudas called me one night and said, "Come on, we’re going to Atlantic City Country Club and I’m going to get you a pro job. I’m friends with Leo Fraser." Because one year they had the local PGA at the Atlantic City Country Country Club, and we had a big flood up in the Poconos, so Stan happened to be down here so he stayed here for a week and that’s how he and Leo got to be good friends. So Stan hand-picked me for the job. And Leo was a vascilator, you know what vasilator means? Fluctuate, so he never did tell me he hired me. It was funny, when I left to go to Wildwood, which was a step up, they had a big party for me and I told that story that I was never told I got hired. I was there in Atlantic City for four years, and the proper thing was to move forward to a head pro job.

BK: What years where you at Shawnee?

RW: I got there June 2nd of 1952, and I left there, we closed about the middle of October, 1960, and then I became the pro at Atlantic City, April 1st, 1961. And I stayed until March, 1965.

BK: When was Palmer there?

RW: Here’s what happened. Arnold Palmer was working for a guy named Bill Wehnes, who was in the paint business. And Bill used to come to Shanwnee, he had a beautiful wife. Palmer worked for Bill as a paint seller. So Bill came to Shawnee, and Fred Waring had this big invitational tournament that always started the day after Labor Day. So Bill Wehnes wanted to bring Arnold to play and he had him entered.

And then Arnold won the U.S. Amateur at the Detrioit Country Club on that Saturday. So now on Tuesday he’s there at Shawnee for the tournament. And Fred Warning, who owned the place, had a daughter named Dixie, and Dixie’s buddy was Winnie Waltzer. The Walter family liked to hang around the club but they didn’t play golf. Mr. Waltzer sold food, and him and Mr. Waring became friends. So that’s what Winnie was doing there. She used to hand around the pool a lot. I never did see her on the golf course, but she was a cute little girl.

So anyway, Arnie wins the national amateur out of the blue. He wasn’t expected to win it, he wasn’t favored like Tiger Woods was. So anyway, now he comes and plays, he meets Winnie and he marries her four months later. He used to hang around Shawnee in his spare time. He liked the place, and it was great.

And I have to tell you this story. He had a book out, and in the book Arnie talks about how he used to fly with his buddy when he was about 17. My buddy, he said, was always flying so low he would run the wheel on the ground as he was flying. So one day I was out playing golf at Shawnee – which is an island on the Delaware River in the Pocono mountains. So it’s a flat golf course out on the river. I remember the first time I saw it is so beautiful. So anyway we were out playing and while we were playing in comes this airplane so low we almost had to duck. So at Shawnee the hotel front door was kind of right by where you pulled up with the carts after the round by the first tee and as we were standing there, up comes Arnie in a car saying, "Did you see me?"

And we could almost touch him. So I thought it was wonderful that he wrote about that in the story. But he was always a good guy. That was the fun of Arnold Palmer.

BK: Was he ever at Shawnee before that tournament?

RW: No he had never gone to Shawnee before.

BK: Howard Everett was working there too.

RW: Howard ended up becoming a kind of a general manager. Fred Waring liked him. I always said that Howard Everett was one of the original Arnold Palmers, because as an amateur he was really good, and he was a good looking guy, and he could really wack the hell out of that ball. But amateurs stayed amateurs in those days, they didn’t turn pro.

Harvey Ward and Ken Ventura worked for the guy who caddied for Francis Oiuemet (in the 1913 Open), Eddie Lowrey, he became a Cadillac dealer out in California. So Ken and Harvey were working for him, and the USGA put the heat on them because they weren’t working, just taking money from him, so they turned pro. But it was better, back in those days, to stay amateur. But after Arnie won the U.S. Amateur, Stand Dudas was going to take him to Bermuda and play in a tournament with him as an amateur, but he said to Stan, "No, I’m going to turn pro."

Because it was just starting to get money in the game, Palmer was the beginning of the big money.

He used to be out on the Green Terrace, an outdoor eating place by the 18th green, and I remember one day, Arnie was out there doing a commercial. It probably showed for about 30 seconds and it took about two hours to do it. But that was one of those things that made it so the great pros stopped being so great. Hogan was great, and then after him Palmer came along, and Nicolas, but the masses were always busy making money.

The grand slam was what everyone always wanted to win – and I used to go watch the Masters, the Open and the PGA, I never went to the British Open, but I always liked to watch the first round because it seemed like in the first round everybody could take the gas.

I saw Johnny Miller, he was at his peak, in the first round he shot a 75 at the Masters, and I used to go eves drop on the press conference and he used to say, "I was always between clubs, and that’s why I shot 75."

Hogan was at his peak. One time he was playing at Whitemarsh and he hit a three-wood 150 yards, and a guy asked him how come he used a three-wood and he said, "That’s what the shot required." That was the epitome of moving the ball with the club. He was never a great putter. That was his demise.

BK: What’s the story about you camping out on his lawn or something?

WR: I went there a few times. It is really funny. What happened to me Kel, after I got to Wildwood, I saw when you make money in this business you should try to be a good player. I was a fake golf pro. If somebody would ask me a tricky question I’d pretend I knew the answer, but I never worked on my game because I was busy chasing girls and being a big shot. And then when I got to Wildwood, I said let’s try to work on your game. And Hogan was the best, so I wanted to pick his brain.

So one day I called the Dallas-Fort Worth newspaper and the sports guy who answered said, "You know, I just took some pictures to Hogan’s house last week," and he gave me the address, in the suburb of Fort Worth. So I went down to his house, I remember the first time I went there it was a Sunday, I was coming back from trying to qualify for the tour one year, and we went down to Brownsville, Texas to play. And I was coming back from Brownsville, Texas on a Sunday morning and I stopped at Hogan’s house, I knocked on the door, and Hogan was the King, the King of Golf. When I knocked on the door, there was a peep hole in the door like they have in motel rooms, you know? So I’m laughing my ass off at that – he’s the King of Golf and he’s got to have a peep hole to hide from people.

Because Hogan didn’t like people that much. He had a little rancher house, but he didn’t have a spare bedroom, he didn’t want company. So his wife opened the door, and she looked like death warmed over, all that tension and all. And I’m laughing, and asked, "Could I speak to Mister Hogan?"

"Do you have an appointment?" she said.

I said, "No."

"Then you can’t speak to Mister Hogan."

So the next day I went to this factory in Fort Worth and there was a lady there, his secretary, a great gal, but she said, "He won’t talk to you unless you have an appointment. But he’ll come out to have lunch right outside there," and she showed me where he came out and where his car was, and she said, "You be standing there and you can talk to him."

So he came out and pulled out of his parking lot at the factory and I’m standing there. And he stopped. And I said, "Mister Hogan, could I play golf with you this afternoon?"

And he said, "No, I’m not going to play today."

So then I thought quick, and I’m going to tell you the question I asked him, and see what he said.

"Mister Hogan, do you think the players of today are as great as the player’s of your day?" – What was his answer?

"They’re pretty good."

When he was young, see, he used pop off all the time, so he learned to keep his mouth shut. So when I asked him that question, he knew his players were very creative. Now these guys, everybody thinks they’re the all time greatest because they hit the ball eight thousand miles. But they weren’t any more creative than his guys, his guys were more creative. So he said, "They’re pretty good." That was a great statement.

The next time I went to his house, I was coming across the country, they used to have this thing where you could fly, like from Philly to California, you could get off in Dallas and get back on again without any problem. After 9/11 that all changed.

So I go to his house and there’s a guy out in the yard working, the yard man, so I said, "I’d like to talk to Ben Hogan," and he said, "He’ll come out in the garage there, wait until he comes out."

So he comes out in the garage, kind of an overhanging thing next to his door, and it was dark in there. And he comes out and I said, "Mister Hogan," and he kind of jumped up in the air, not expecting to see anybody. And I had his hear again, and we were standing in his driveway, with a little slope and a field across the street. So I said, "If you were standing in this driveway and had to hit a shot to that tree over there, would you use your basic swing or would you be taking a trick off the basic swing to handle that lie?"

And just as he was getting ready to answer I said something else.

He said, "Whose answering this question, you or me?"

I said, "You are, I’ll see you later."

When he was coming up he didn’t want to share his information. I knew a guy who was 85, Ivan Gantz, playing a senior tournament, he said Hogan caddied for him in the Fort Worth Open and then five years later Hogan was playing in the Fort Worth Open. Hogan said to him when he was caddying for him, "If I was doing the putting for you, you would win this tournament by ten shots."

This guy Ivan Gantz was so wonderful. He lived in Baltimore and he said every year he had to come home and cut greens and give lessons to make ends meet. That’s how the money game was in those days. And that’s why Hogan didn’t want to talk.

BK: Back to Shawnee and how Arnie met Winnie.

RW: Fred Waring owned the place. It was a wonderful tournament he had. He had Ed Sullivan playing in it when he was at his peak, and a guy named Don Cherry, a great singer, and he always came. And Frank Leahy, the great Notre Dame football coach. Notre Dame got all the Catholic kids in those days and beat everybody. After Knute Rockie came Frank Leahy, and after Leahey retired, a man named Walker from South Bend brought Leahey to play. At Shawnee the first tee is right at the hotel, and Leahey was due on the tee in ten minutes. And my boss, the starter said go find Leahey, and I got his room and went and knocked on the door and Mrs. Leahey answered and I told her "Mister Leahey is due on the tee." And he came to the door and said, "Yesss?"

And I told him, "Mister Leahey you are due on the tee in ten minutes," and he said, "Tell him I’ll be down in a couple hours." That’s how those guys were, they could boss away."

RW: There was these cute girls around – Fred’s daughter Dixie was a cuttie pie, but she was always kind of a bad personality because Fred was such a prick his kids weren’t allowed to be abusive. And her friend Winnie was as cute as a bell and Arnie meets her and Arnie was a lady’s man, so that was it. He’s walking around holding her hand, and I’m betting against it because my boss the golf Harry Obits always said, "Don’t mix girls and golf." So during the tournament I bet against Arnie and he could hold Winnie’s hand and still beat everybody."

BK: Did he win that tournament?

WR: He won it. It was a partners tournament. I think his partner was from Arnominik, , a stocky, but good player. He probably won the club championship at Aronomick, a great course where Jay Segal took the game up. So Arnie and his partner won the tournament, the only time he ever played it. Then about three months later he turned pro.

Winnie’s parents didn’t want her to marry him because he was just a golf pro, and in those days that was not very financially productive. In the early days they used to travel in a trailer.

BK: Everett said that he went down to Florida and then returned to Shawnee a few weeks later.

WR: I never played with Palmer. Howard Everett did and Fred Waring. I went to the US Open, and Palmer was there, and lost to Billy Casper, and I was watching him, and he was taking a chip shot from near the ropes and he looked up and saw me and said, "What the hell are you doing here?"

And I said, "I’m here to watch you win the U.S. Open.

"Pretty good idea," he said.

At the Masters they have driving range, putting green, through the club house and to the first tee.

I’d be out there watching them hit balls and putting and I’m standing there talking to Winnie one day, as I knew Winnie before Arnie did, and I knew her well later when she got to be Mrs. Palmer, so I’m talking to Winnie when Arnie said, "Who is that?"

"That’s Ronnie from Shawnee."

BK: Do you know who introduced them?

RW: Stan says he introduced them, but you don’t know. There was a girl named Cora Boward, a secretary, who was great for things like that. Cora probably introduced them.

It was sad when she died. When he put that last book out I bought it, and wanted him and Winnie to autograph copies for Stan for Christmas, and I have a David Leadbetter teacher down in Florida who is just a great guy and smart teacher, and I wanted to give him a copy, and I wanted a copy for the Wildwood Country Club, because he played at Wildwood when he was in the Coast Guard. They named a room after him there. So I called Latrobe and they said his office is in Orlando, and when I called down there the girl said she would get them to sign them, but she just got cancer and she didn’t last too long. So I never got the autographs.

RW: So what’s the story Kel?

BK: Well, Palmer just dedicated a park to Winnie, and I’m using that as an introduction to a story about how Arnie met Winnie at Shawnee, and the significance of Shawnee and how you and Howard Everett and Stan Dudas were all there, and you’re all local guys. So I thought there is a good story there.

RW: Yea, it was 1954, the year he won the National Amateur. He won the Amateur and it was a fluke that he was entered in this tournament at Shawnee a two days later. And he came to play and met Winnie, and then he used to come and hang around in his spare time. He liked hanging around. My boss Harry Obitz was a gregarious guy, and Arnie liked Harry. He liked to drink, what the hell did they drink, Italian Stingers, I think that was it. Who knows what it was, I don’t drink at all. But Shawnee was great, Fred Waring used to have people up there, Bobby Jones was there.

I was there from 1952 to 1960, and we had a giant flood in 1954, and if you’ve ever been to Shawnee I could show you where the water line was.

BK: Maybe we’ll take a ride up there someday.

RW: Yea, that would be great. In the nine years I was there they had one major flood that was like unbelievable. Since then, in the last four years, they’ve had about three of them, and it’s amazing how the guy can keep it going. They have a local tournament the Shawnee Open, and I played in it a couple of years ago, and it was kinda fun talking to the man who owns it because he’s trying to keep it afloat.

BK: Let’s go up and meet him someday because the course is now 100 years old and was built by Tillingast in 1907, a few years before they built the hotel.

RW: Golf World had a great story on it a couple of years ago.

BK: Are you on line?

RW: No, other than at the golf shop.

BK: Well check out

RW: OK Kel, I love to see guys who are hot to trot about something. I’m the same way about golf. I played Cape May National this morning, then I finished about 1:30 and took a nap, and about 4:30 I went over to Wildwood and played ‘til dark. Tomorrow I’m playing at Northhills Country Club at 10 o’clock and I’m going to play at Bala Country Club at 1 o’clock.

BK: You’re a lucky guy.

RW: Yea, I know. Give me a call. See ya’.