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It Happened in Jersey: Golf

 

SIDEWAYSfurgol

One of the most imaginative shots in history took place at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield on the final hole of the 1954 US Open. Ed Furgol was leading Gene Littler and needed a par 5 to win. Furgol pulled his tee shot into the rough and had no choice but to chip the ball back onto the fairway. Or did he?

The 18th fairways on Baltusrol's Upper and Lower Courses run parallel. Furgol saw a lot of green available on the Upper Course, so he decided to blast an 8 iron toward the "other" 18th green. From there, he lifted a 7-iron back onto the Lower Course. Furgol chipped the ball onto the green and holed his putt to defeat Littler by a stroke.

 

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

Prior to the 1954 Open, course designer Robert Trent Jones had been brought in to revamp Baltusrol. Immediately, club members began complaining that some of the new holes were unfair—particularly the 4th, a challenging par 3. Prior to the tournament, Jones arranged a match between himself, the club president, an influential Baltuspol member and the club pro, Johnny Farrell. Farrell had defeated Bobby Jones in the 1928 US Open.

As the group stood at the 4th tee, they knew the eyes of the membership were upon them. The first three players deposited their shots oton the green. Jones stepped up and knocked his tee shot right into the hole. He turned to the others and deadpanned, “Genltemen...I believe this hole is eminently fair."

 

THE LONG & SHORT OF IT

Baltusrol was again the site of the 1967 US Open. It also marked theprofessional debut of Deane Beman—better known as the longtime commissioner of the PGA. At the time, Beman was a celebrated amateur, an All-American at Maryland and a two-time winner of the US Amateur title. He had a superb short game, including a excellent putter, but was not know as a long hitter. In fact, he was one of the shorest hitters on the international golf scene.

Beman teed up his first ball on the par-4 475-yard opening hole. Many wondered whether he could actually reach the green in two shots, as the other touring pros could. Beamon cracked a passable tee shot down the fairway, then drew a four-wood from his bag. His second shot found the green and rolled into the hole for an eagle.

Over the next three rounds Beman birdied, birdied and parred the monster first hole.

 

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