ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – If laughs were birdies, the World Golf Hall of Fame’s 2012 class might have set some scoring records during Monday’s induction ceremony.
With Dan Jenkins and Peter Alliss delivering brilliant speeches that rivaled stand-up comic acts, the night ranked as one of the most entertaining in this Hall’s history.
Phil Mickelson was no slouch, showing off his clever storytelling abilities, and Sandy Lyle and Hollis Stacy delivered poignant moments.
Nights like this can sometimes drag, but not this one, not with Alliss making sure nobody will ever forget his appearance. He pulled off the trickiest of closing statements. He somehow managed to leave the audience roaring in approval as he thrust his middle finger to the heavens as an exclamation point to one last story.
Here are highlights of the five inductees’ speeches in the order they appeared:
Dan Jenkins and tombstones . . .
Jenkins, the author/writer, wowed the audience with statistics.
He reviewed all 141 names in the Hall of Fame and came up with these stats: “I have known 95 of these people when they were living. I've written stories about 73 of them. I've had cocktails and drinks with 47 of them, and I played golf with 24 of them. So I want somebody else to try and go up against that record.”
Jenkins set a lively tone with some terrific lines.
“I am particularly pleased to be taken in as a vertical human,” he said.
Jenkins joins Bernard Darwin and Herbert Warren Wind as the only writers in the Hall of Fame. Darwin and Wind were both inducted posthumously. Jenkins said he knows what his tombstone will say when he passes: “I knew this would happen.”
Jenkins has covered 211 major championships.
“As for all those majors I've covered, it's obviously a record that'll never be broken, because one day there's not going to be any more magazines and newspapers, and, for that matter, there's not going to be any more people. There's just going to be vampires and text messages and some voice saying, `turn left now.’
Sandy Lyle and dead Scots . . .
Lyle recalled the hard climb that came before he broke through to win the British Open in 1985, before he became the first international player to win The Players Championship in '87 and before he became the first British winner of the Masters in '88.
“I remember winning Tour school,” Lyle said. “It doubled my bank balance to about 300 pounds.”
Lyle is the 11th Scot to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the first who wasn’t inducted posthumously.
“At least I’m alive,” Lyle said.
Hollis Stacy’s love story . . .
Her induction was a love story. She recounted her love of family and her love of the game.
“There were never enough hours in the day, enough days in the week, enough weeks in the year to play golf,” Stacy said.
One of 10 children growing up in Savannah, Ga., Stacy won 18 LPGA titles and four majors. She was delighted to have 30 family and friends in attendance, including six of her siblings and her 84-year-old mother, Tillie. She lost her father and a brother, but her sister, Martha Leach, presented her. Leach won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, making them the second sisters to win U.S. Golf Association events.
“I had some great teachers, but the intangible that separated me was growing up in a large family,” Stacy said. “My nine brothers and sisters were my biggest fans, my fiercest competitors and my best friends. I learned to live in chaos and handle things that weren’t in my control . . . I dedicate everything I’ve done to my family.”
Peter Alliss and Mrs. Weymouth . . .
Alliss rivaled Jenkins with his comic timing.
His closing won’t soon be forgotten, ending with a crude gesture to the heavens that brought the house down as an exclamation point to his final story.
Alliss, the Englishman who played in eight Ryder Cups before becoming a popular BBC commentator, told the story of the stern education he received from Mrs. Violet Weymouth, a chunky Welsh headmistress at Crosby House.
“You didn’t mess about with Mrs. Weymouth, I can tell you that,” Alliss said. “I remember the last report she sent back to my parents, and it went something like this: `Peter does have a brain, but he's rather loathe to use it. His only interests appear to be the game of golf and Violet Pretty,’ a girl I liked. 'I fear for his future' were the last words she wrote on my report.”
Alliss closed saying if there is a heaven, and his parents are looking down, he hopes they’re pleased.
“And Mrs. Weymouth, if you’re there . . .”
Alliss didn’t finish the sentence, instead, thrusting his middle finger skyward.
Phil Mickelson and . . .
Mickelson poked fun at a few folks, including himself.
He told the story of how he developed his competitive skills and his girth while working as a range picker as a kid.
“I would have putting matches with the other coworkers, and we would putt for a soda and a candy bar,” Mickelson said. “Unfortunately I was somewhat successful.”
Mickelson shared loving stories about his wife, Amy, and his three children and how they’ve come to mark time with memories of their children at majors. He also gave special thanks to Steve Loy, his agent, and his long-time caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay.
“He's a great caddie,” Mickelson said. “He's a most loyal friend. In the mid '90s we were playing a tournament in Las Vegas and there was an earthquake at 2 in the morning. The chandelier was swaying from side to side hitting the ceiling. His roommate told me the next day that Bones leaped out of bed, grabbed the clubs and ran outside. He didn't want anything to fall on them and hurt them.”