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Golf Talk Live - Johnny Bulla Transcript Segment 1

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TEASE
 
WHEN JOHNNY BULLA AND SAM SNEAD DROVE WEST TO JOIN THE TOUR IN 1936, SNEAD SUGGESTED THEY SPLIT THEIR WINNINGS FOR A WHILE. BULLA SAID NO BECAUSE HE WAS SURE SAM COULDN'T PLAY WELL ENOUGH TO MAKE ANY. MEET JOHNNY BULLA, NOW, ON GOLF TALK LIVE.
 
(MUSIC)
 
WHEN JOHNNY BULLA BEGAN TO CADDIE IN 1925, HE KEPT HIS EYE ON THE BALL AND ALSO ON THE EVENTS THAT SHAPED THE 1920'S AND '30'S. HE REMEMBERS LINDBERGH'S SOLO FLIGHT FROM NEW YORK TO PARIS AND BABE RUTH'S 60 HOME RUNS IN 1927. THE STOCK MARKET CRASH OF 1929, AND BOBBY JONES' GRAND SLAM OF 1930.
 
IT WAS A TIME WHEN LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND GEORGE GERSHWIN WERE INVENTING AND PERFECTING JAZZ. WHEN HEMMINGWAY AND FITZGERALD WERE RIVALS IN THEIR PRIME. AL JOLSON SANG ON FILM IN THE FIRST TALKING PICTURE. HICKORY GAVE WAY TO STEEL AND WINGED FOOT AND AUGUSTA NATIONAL AND CYPRESS POINT OPENED FOR PLAY.
 
SAM SNEAD HAD HAIR, AND GENE SARAZON PERFECTED THE SAND WEDGE. THIS WAS THE BEGINNING OF JOHNNY BULLA'S TIME. HE WATCHED JONES AND McKENZIE BUILD AUGUSTA NATIONAL.
 
HE WATCHED SNEAD LOSE HIS HAIR AND HE LIVED THE LIFE HE WANTED, AS A PLAYER, AS A WINNER, AS ONE OF THE MEN WHO HELPED BUILD THE TOUR WHEN IT'S CAST OF CHARACTERS WAS AS FASCINATING AS THE TIMES THEY LIVED IN.
 
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE, I'M PETER KESSLER AND IT IS AN HONOR TO INTRODUCE YOU TO ONE OF GOLF'S GREAT PIONEERS AND ONE OF THE GAME'S BEST FRIENDS, JOHNNY BULLA.
 
I'M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU AGAIN, JOHNNY.
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
THANK YOU, PETER. THANK YOU. THANK YOU, PETER. I'M GLAD TO BE BACK.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WELL THANK YOU SIR. SOMETHING I'VE NEVER ASKED YOU AND HAVE MEANT TO IS WHEN YOU AND SNEAD GOT IN THAT CAR IN '36 TO DRIVE OUT TO CALIFORNIA TO JOIN THE TOUR, WHY DIDN'T YOU THINK HE WOULD WIN ENOUGH MONEY
 
TO MAKE IT REASONABLE FOR YOU TO SPLIT THE WINNINGS WITH HIM?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
WELL HE HIT IT RIGHT ON THE HEAD. HE WASN'T THAT GREAT A PLAYER UNTIL HE GOT A NEW DRIVER AND A NEW PUTTER. THOSE TWO THINGS JUST TURNED HIS GAME RIGHT AROUND AND BESIDES, IF WE HAD SPLIT, IF, IF I HAD WON A LOT HE'D HAVE SPLIT. THE FIRST TIME HE WON SOMETHING THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO SPLIT, I'LL GUARANTEE YOU.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
(LAUGHS)
 
SO YOU KNEW HIM PRETTY WELL, THAT WASN'T A HELLO, HOW DO YOU DO, WHEN YOU GOT IN THE CAR, WAS IT?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
YOU GOT TO BELIEVE IT.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WHEN YOU WENT TO WATCH THEM BUILD, McKENZIE AND JONES BUILD AUGUSTA NATIONAL IN 1931, IT HAD TO HAVE BEEN SOMETHING THAT COMPELLED YOU AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'M GUESSING COMPELLED YOU WAS THAT JONES' GRAND SLAM YEAR OF 1930 MADE AN
 
AWFULLY DEEP AND INDELIBLE IMPRESSION ON YOU. TELL ME YOUR REACTION TO JONES' 1930.
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
WELL JONES WAS OF COURSE THE, THE HERO OF GOLF. HE, HE REALLY BROUGHT THE ATTENTION TO THE WORLD WITH HIS GOLF GAME, AND I THINK THAT WAS REALLY THE BEGINNING OF THE REAL EXPLOSION INTO GOLF.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION, THOUGH, AS HE WAS DOING SOMETHING THAT YEAR IN 1930 THAT HAD NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE, WIN THE OPENS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES, DON'T WORRY ABOUT THAT THING NOW, WE CAN FIX IT LATER AND WINNING THE AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIPS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES IN THE COURSE OF A SINGLE CALENDAR YEAR?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
WELL THAT, THAT SHOWED TALENT THAT NOBODY ELSE HAD. THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT HE WAS BY FAR, IN A WAY, THE BEST PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY AT THAT TIME, AND I THINK HIS RECORD SHOWS THAT HE WAS ONE OF THE ALL TIME GREATS.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WHEN YOU WENT TO WATCH THEM BUILD THE GOLF COURSE THE NEXT YEAR, WHAT STRUCK YOU THE MOST, WHAT'S THE MOST VIVID MEMORY YOU HAVE OF WATCHING THAT WORK?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
WELL THE THING THAT IMPRESSED ME THE MOST, THEY HAD A STEAM SHOVEL THAT WAS DIGGING OUT RAZOR CREEK AND I'VE NEVER SEEN A STEAM SHOVEL BEFORE. THE GOLF COURSE HAD VERY LITTLE TREES ON IT, ON IT WAS A NURSERY.
 
I SAW THEM CUT DOWN PINE TREES THAT WAS ON THE 13TH GREEN TO MAKE THE GREEN AND THEY'D, THEY'D SAW IT DOWN AND THEN PUT A STICK OF DYNAMITE UNDER THE ROOTS TO BLOW IT OUT AND THEN FILL THE HOLES IN.
 
IT WAS A LONG TEDIOUS WORK. YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE EQUIPMENT THAT YOU HAVE NOW. IT WAS ALL DONE BY HAND, MOSTLY.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
IS THE LONG TEDIOUS WORK THAT YOU WERE WATCHING THE REASON WHY YOU DIDN'T ASK HIM FOR A JOB?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
NO, I WASN'T INTERESTED IN A JOB. I DIDN'T EVEN CONSIDER A JOB, I JUST WANTED TO SEE IT. I'D HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT IT. SO MUCH ABOUT THEY WERE GOING TO BUILD THIS GOLF COURSE THAT I, WELL, I WAS PRETTY YOUNG THEN.
 
I, I DON'T THINK THEY'D HAVE GIVEN ME A JOB IF I'D ASKED THEM UNLESS I'D BEEN WATER BOY.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
RIGHT AT THAT TIME, THE CONVERSION WAS TAKING PLACE IN THIS COUNTRY FROM HICKORY TO STEEL IN THE EARLY 1930. EVEN WHEN JONES DESIGNED HIS FIRST SET OF CLUBS FOR SPALDING THEY CODED WITH PAINT THE STEEL SHAFTS
 
TAN TO MAKE THEM LOOK LIKE HICKORY, SO THEY'D BE READILY ACCEPTED TO THE EYE. WHEN YOU MADE THAT CONVERSION, WHEN ALL OF YOU DID, DID THAT ALLOW YOU FOR THE FIRST TIME TO
 
PRACTICE AS MUCH AS YOU WANT BECAUSE THE STEEL SHAFT COULD HANDLE THE POUNDING AND THE HICKORY SHAFT WAS TOO FRAGILE AND FICKLE TO HANDLE THE POUNDING OF PRACTICE?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
WELL LET ME CORRECT ONE THING. THEY DIDN'T PAINT THE SHAFT. THEY PUT A CELLULOID SHEATH ON IT THAT LOOKS LIKE HICKORY. IT HAD LINES IN IT AND IT LOOKED LIKE A HICKORY SHAFT THAT WAS PUT OVER THE STEEL SHAFT.
 
I DON'T THINK IT INTERFERED WITH THE PLAY. SURE WE BROKE A LOT OF SHAFTS AND THEY GOT WARPED AND EVERYTHING BUT IF YOU WANT TO PRACTICE IT WASN'T TOO HARD TO PUT ANOTHER SHAFT IN.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WHAT DID IT MAKE YOU DO DIFFERENTLY IN TERMS OF THE WAY YOU SWUNG THE GOLF CLUB?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
YOU KNOW PETER, TO BE HONEST WITH YOU... I DON'T KNOW.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
(LAUGHS)
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
BECAUSE I, BACK THEN IT WAS HIT THE GOLF BALL AND WE WASN'T THAT REFINED ON WHETHER HICKORY OR STEEL WAS BETTER. I KNOW THAT MOST OF THE PROS THOUGHT STEEL WASN'T EVER GOING TO GO BECAUSE IT WAS MUCH STIFFER, YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE FEEL
 
WITH STEEL THAT YOU HAD WITH HICKORY AND I GUESS IT WAS, MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT 33 OR 4 BEFORE THEY TOOK THE SHEATH OFF THE, OFF THE STEEL SHAFTS.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WHEN, AS YOU REMEMBER IT, WAS THERE A TIME WHEN, YOU WOULD HIT YOUR SHOT ON TO THE GREEN ON ANY HOLE AND THAT YOU COULDN'T FIX YOUR BALL MARK, YOU COULDN'T MARK YOUR BALL, YOU COULDN'T CLEAN YOUR BALL,
 
YOU COULDN'T REPAIR OTHER NEW BALL MARKS BETWEEN YOU AND THE HOLE, HOW LONG DID THAT LAST AS YOU REMEMBER IT BEFORE YOU COULD CLEAN UP A LITTLE BIT?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
OH IT LASTED A LONG TIME, BUT I'LL TELL YOU SOMETHING, PETER. THE GREENS WASN'T THAT GOOD TO START WITH. THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE AGRONOMY, THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE MOWING, THE MACHINES, THE GREENS WERE VERY
 
ROUGH WHEN WE PLAYED AND THERE'S NEVER TWO GREENS THE SAME AND IT DEPENDS ON WHETHER HE'S PLAYING BERMUDA OR BENT. BENT GREENS GOT PRETTY FAST BUT BERMUDA GREENS ARE REALLY SLOW.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
BUT IF YOU WERE PLAYING AND THE GREENS WERE WET OR SOFT, AND YOU HIT A SHOT IN THERE, IT'S STILL GOING TO LEAVE SOME KIND OF AN IMPRINT. IT'S STILL GOING TO LEAVE SOME MUD AND DIRT AND WATER ON YOUR GOLF BALL. HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
WELL LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. I HIT A BALL TO THE GREEN IN PHOENIX AND IT BURIED IN THE GREEN AND WE HAD A RULE ON IT AND I HAD TO PLAY IT. I COULDN'T EVEN TAKE IT OUT OF IT'S BURIED MARK, SO YOU PLAYED THE BALL AS IT WAS.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WAS THERE AN OUTCRY ABOUT THAT OR
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
YES, THERE WAS SLOWLY BECAUSE EVERY, ALL THE PROS THOUGHT THAT WASN'T FAIR. THEY WERE ALL FOR WIPING THE BALL AND FIXING THE BALL MARKS. THEY NEVER FIXED THE SPIKE MARKS WHICH WAS, WAS RIGHT BECAUSE
 
IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN FOREVER. IF SOMEBODY THAT WANT TO GET HIS LINE PERFECT HE COULD HAVE FIXED THE SPIKE MARKS FOREVER, BUT THE BALL MARKS, YES, AND CLEANING THE BALL, BECAUSE
 
YOU PICK UP A LOT OF MUD ON IT WHEN IT RAINED.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
YOU KNOW WE USED TO HEAR THAT WHEN THE FELLOWS WOULD GET ON THE PUTTING GREEN AND LITERALLY THE BALL WOULD BE UNDER THE SURFACE, THAT, NOT ONLY DID YOU HAVE TO PLAY IT BUT THERE WAS NO QUESTION FOR
 
TIME ABOUT YOU HAVING TO PLAY IT. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN OFF THE GREEN IF YOUR, YOUR BALL WAS IMBEDDED, FOR EXAMPLE. DIDN'T THEY HAVE THE IMBEDDED BALL RULE FOR YOU TO FOLLOW AT THAT TIME?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
WELL THEY'D HAD IT YEAH IF IT WAS RAINING AND THE BALL WAS IMBEDDING, THEY'D MAKE SPECIAL RULES. THERE WAS NO USGA RULES THAT COVERED IT AT THAT TIME, BUT THEY HAD THE LOCAL PGA WOULD, WOULD MAKE THE RULES. I REMEMBER ONE TIME I PLAYED WITH SAM
 
WHERE IT WAS RAINING PRETTY HARD. IT WAS VERY WET AND SAM HIT THE BALL LOW AND I HIT IT HIGH SO MY BALL WOULD EMBED EVERY TIME AND HE'D JUST RAISE CAIN BECAUSE I COULD PICK MY BALL UP AND WIPE IT OFF AND HE HAD TO PLAY HIS.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
IS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I KEEP GETTING THE SENSE THAT NONE OF YOU WORKED ON YOUR PUTTING VERY MUCH IN THE EARLY 30'S WAS PRECISELY THE REASON THAT YOU SUGGESTED A COUPLE OF MINUTES AGO THAT THE GREENS WERE
 
SO INCONSISTENT AND THEY WERE SO BUMPY AND THAT EACH ONE WAS DIFFERENT THAN THE NEXT THAT THERE WASN'T A REASON IN MOST PLAYERS VIEW TO WORK REAL HARD ON YOUR PUTTING?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
NO, BECAUSE THE GOOD PLAYERS, THE GOOD PLAYERS WORKED HARD ON IT. IT'S HACKERS LIKE ME THAT WOULD RATHER HIT THE DRIVER THAN TO WORK ON THE PUTTING AND IT WAS BORING TO ME, BUT THE GOOD PLAYERS, THEY, THEY PRACTICED PUTTING. THEY PRACTICED A LOT.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT THE SECRET TO PUTTING SINCE WE SAW YOU LAST?
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
YES BUT, YES BUT IT'S TOO LATE.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WELL WHAT'S THE SECRET? SHARE IT WITH US.
 
JOHNNY BULLA
 
THE SECRET IS THAT YOU DON'T LET YOUR LEF... YOUR RIGHT WRIST BREAK DOWN. IF YOU CAN KEEP YOU RIGHT WRIST FROM BREAKING DOWN BEFORE YOU HIT IT THEN YOU'RE GOING TO KEEP IT, AND WHAT I THINK IS GOOD IS THAT YOUR LEFT ELBOW GOES OUT. SEE IF YOU STAY HERE YOU PULL IT IN. IF THAT GOES OUT AND THIS STAYS COCKED, WHITEWALL TOLD
 
ME, HE SAYS JOHN, I LEARNED IN THE VERY BEGINNING AND IF I DIDN'T LET THIS BREAK DOWN HERE, I COULD PUTT, AND HE WAS ONE OF THE BEST PUTTERS OUT THERE.
 
PETER KESSLER
 
WE'LL TAKE A SHORT BREAK, AND BE BACK WITH JOHNNY BULLA.
 
(MUSIC)
 
(BREAK)

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