Earl's Recent Past Golf Blog's
November 19, 2019
Southern California Junior Golf Reunion
After a fun four-man team event at San Clemente Golf Club the group of 50 or more former junior golfers gathered for dinner and storytelling and to raise funds for Junior Golf in southern California and reminisce. The event was the brain child of Rick Talt, Tom Sargent, and Bill Brask and was organized and run by the Southern California PGA. Rick contacted over 80 former players that played in junior tournaments in the early 1960's. All were excited that something like this was thought of and hoped we would do future events. Rick emceed the event and read off a list of accomplishments that was a full two pages long. The list included PGA winners, PGA Champions Tour winners, USGA winners, International winners both amateur and professional, numerous state titles and honors both in golf and in business. That was followed by storytelling of individual junior experiences and of their successes in golf after junior golf.
I talked briefly about what the Southern California Junior Golf Association (SCJGA) did for me and how it aided everyone in attendance this night. I played all over southern California since I was eleven years old at the best golf courses two to three times a week during the summer in tournaments that cost 1 or 2 dollars each. What I didn't know was that I was playing against some of the best junior golfers in the country. In order to compete and win a trophy my game had to be raised. Fortunately I was capable and motivated to put the time and effort to improve. It was a challenge, but one that was fun and never seemed like work. I thanked my fellow former juniors on their excellence that raised the bar for everyone that ultimately lead to me receiving a golf scholarship to be best golf school in California, the University of Southern California. Finally, I talked of my fifteen years on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Junior Golf Association and seven years as President. I modeled my efforts for junior golf in Colorado on my experiences in California and inspiration from Bill Bryant and Ralph Miller who spearheaded the junior program. In this small way, I hope I was able to repay a bit of what I got from the SCJGA.
But I didn't get better in a vacuum; I had a lot of help. My parents supported my interest in golf. My mother, along with two other mothers, would alternate driving us kids to the various tournaments no matter how far. My family belonged to Candlewood Country Club and I spent almost every Saturday and Sunday at the course from sunup to sundown. The club's junior golf program had over forty juniors that were active serious golfers. I was either playing golf with them, putting for nickels on the putting green, or chipping and pitching for money. If not doing something with golf, we were in the pool. John Jacobs (PGA Tour, Senior major winner), Rick Talt, (Arizona State, PGA Tour, Senior Tour), Gregg McHatton (USC, USGA Junior Champion), Jack Spradlin (San Diego State, PGA Tour and Senior Tour) are a few of the juniors that grew up with at Candlewood. In Long Beach, were I lived, I was friends with Kemp Richardson (USC all-american, USGA Senior Amateur twice, British Senior Amateur twice), Terry Small (San Jose State all-american, NCAA champ, PGA Tour, California State Open twice), Terry Hartshorn (UCLA all-american), Roger Cleveland (USC, Cleveland Golf Company). That's not counting my two excellent caliber high school teammates; Hank Rams (Cal State Fullerton), Dick Mortenson (Cal State LA), who along with Kemp Richardson comprised our high school team that won our school's first CIF title (equivalent of a state title). With getting to play with these friends and competitors on a regular basis, who could not help get better.
The Southern California PGA Section has taken over the running of junior golf in southern California and has done an amazing job. They now run 280 tournaments a year and have over 3,000 participants and are continuing to expand. Tom Sargent is the Chairman of the Junior Golf Advisory Committee. He outlined their goal of reaching 5,000 young golfers in the future. The money raised from our event and the silent auction all went to further junior golf.
Golf is said to be a game of a lifetime. Many extremely good junior golfers from a past era played yesterday. Some are in relatively good shape, some have had various medical issues, but even though we aren't the "great" golfers that we were in the past, we are still playing golf. Golf was a great activity in our youth, and fortunately most of us are still enjoying it. Golf brought us together as kids and friendships were formed. Time hadn't eroded the friendships and we just picked up from where we left off. Golf and friendship is for a lifetime.
Earl Svenningsen 1963
Earl Svenningsen ,Kemp Richardson, Hank Rams 2019 - High School teammates and still friends
November 2, 2019
Tiger and Sam Snead
Last week Tiger Woods equaled Sam Snead's career PGA Tour win total. He did it with the skill of a surgeon preforming a delicate operation. His focus and command of his game was as good as it ever had been. Amazing that this feat came after a nine week absence from tournament golf and following another knee surgery! Tiger Woods continues to amaze!
In 1981, I received a call from Norm Bernard, the head professional at Redlands Country Club in California. I had the privilege of working under him as an assistant professional six years before. In 1981, I was a head professional at Broadmoor Country Club in Indianapolis. Norm was excited to tell me about an experience that he just had and that he had just seen the next super-star golfer. The super-star was a five year old boy by the name of Eldrick Woods. Of course I was very suspicious of such a claim, but Norm was adamant that he was seeing greatness. Norm had invited Tiger and his dad, Earl Woods, to give an exhibition for the Men's Club of Redlands. Earl and Norm conducted the clinic with Tiger hitting shots on demand; high hook, low fade, straight, etc. Earl described his training for Tiger and plans for his future. Norm said that Tiger was just wonderful, polite, and performed each shot expertly. My only response to his call, was that time will tell.
In 1982, Norm again was present when Tiger and Sam Snead played a two hole exhibition at Quail Lake Golf Course in Saboba Springs, California. If you know anything about Snead, he can be a bit grumpy, aloof, and was a bit put-off with having to play with a now six year old kid. Snead had a dagger needle wit and he was always looking to get an advantage. So he started off needling Tiger. Tiger didn't let anything bother him and just played his game. On the final hole, Sam challenged Tiger to a bet from 50 yards for a buck. Snead put a nice wedge shot up about four feet from the hole and needled Tiger to match him. Little Tiger put it inside Snead. Both made their putts and no money was exchanged. Little did Sam know that this little kid was going to match and probably shortly surpass his tournament win record.
I had good mentors in the golf profession. Norm Bernard was the consummate golf professional. He was always looking to do that was best for his club and the membership. No job was too big or too little for him. Do the job the right way with others in mind first and your rewards will happen. I was honored to write his recommendation letter for Southern California Section PGA Professional of the Year, which he won in 1986. Sad that he passed away too early, but his legacy and love for his profession lives on.
Tiger is not the stud that he was in the in his 20's. He is like a baseball pitcher that in his youth could just overpower the opposition. Now that the fastball isn't as fast, he must rely on his experience, guile, and use different pitches to fool and confuse the batters. In Japan, Tiger drove the ball wonderfully. However, he usually was fifteen to twenty yards behind Gary Woodland and Keegan Bradley. He now has to be more precise and craft his way around the golf course. At the ZOZO Championship, you saw that he is more than capable of this different approach. Winning the Tour Championship was great, but it came with struggle. The Masters win was tremendous, but he needed a bit of help from his competitors. This past tournament was a vintage Tiger Woods win. Tiger played and the rest were playing for second. Soon Sam Snead will be second in all-time PGA wins.