Golf Talk Live - Tommy Bolt Transcript Segment 1

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GOLF TALK LIVE - JANUARY 10, 2000
TOMMY BOLT

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MAJOR CHAMPION, TOMMY BOLT, WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMAGINATIVE SHOT-MAKERS AND CLUB THROWERS TO EVER THE PLAY THE GAME.
HE GAVE ARNIE A SPECIAL PIECE OF ADVICE WHEN PALMER FIRST JOINED THE TOUR: ALWAYS THROW THE CLUB IN THE DIRECTION YOU'LL NEXT BE WALKING.
MEET TOMMY BOLT TONIGHT ON GOLF TALK LIVE.

(GTL INTRO/MUSIC BEGINS)

IN THE 1950'S, TOMMY BOLT PLAYED HIS VERY BEST GOLF. SAM SNEAD AND BEN HOGAN WERE ALSO AT THEIR BEST. WHEN BOLT WON THE 1958 U.S. OPEN AT SOUTHERN HILLS, HOGAN SAID, 'TOMMY'S PERFORMANCE WAS THE FINEST GOLF EVER PLAYED IN A U.S. OPEN' AND BOLT AGREED.

THE MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE OBSERVERS BELIEVED BOLT'S SWING TO BE AS FUNCTIONAL AS THE ONES MADE BY HOGAN AND SNEAD, BUT THAT TOMMY SOMETIMES ALLOWED HIS EMOTIONS TO INTERRUPT THE NEAR PERFECTION FROM TEE TO GREEN.

WHEN TOMMY WAS TOLD THAT HIS PERSONALITY WAS BETTER SUITED TO TRAVELING WITH BONNIE AND CLYDE THAN BEN AND SAM, BOTH IMMEDIATELY OFFERED TO PLAY THE BETTER BALL OF THE 2 DEPRESSION ERA BANK ROBBERS.

TOMMY SERVED HIS COUNTRY IN WORLD WAR II, FOUND HIS ASSIGNED DUTIES TO INCLUDE PLAYING AND DEFENDING A 15-HOLE GOLF COURSE IN ITALY, A TASK HE PERFORMED BEAUTIFULLY.

HE JOINED THE TOUR IN 1950 WHEN HE WAS 34 YEARS OLD. AND HIS 15 TOUR WINS INCLUDED BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES ON THE BEST GOLF COURSES. HE WON AT PINEHURST NUMBER 2, AT COLONIAL IN FORT WORTH, AND THE U.S. OPEN AT SOUTHERN HILLS AT THE AGE OF 42.

HE WON EVERYTHING WORTH WINNING AS A SENIOR, THREATENED TO WIN MAJORS IN HIS 60'S, AND MAYBE WOULD HAVE IF HIS PUTTING HAD BEEN MORE COOPERATIVE.
TOMMY WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT HE NEVER THREW CLUBS. HE TOSSED THEM. KNOWING HE'S IN HIS MID-80'S, YOU THINK, NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE HIM ON. PLEASE NOTE, HE SOMETIMES BEATS HIS AGE BY NEARLY A STROKE A HOLE.
AND HE'D BE REAL PLEASED TO SHOW YOU HOW IT'S DONE IN EXCHANGE FOR A FEW OF YOUR DOLLARS.

PETER KESSLER
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO A FELLOW WHO'S A MAJOR CHAMPION ON AND OFF THE COURSE AND A VISION IN BLUE, TOMMY BOLT.

TOMMY BOLT
HI PETER.

PETER KESSLER
YOU SURE ARE LOOKING TERRIFIC.

TOMMY BOLT
GOOD TO SEE YOU, FELLOW. YOU LOOK GOOD YOURSELF.

PETER KESSLER
WELL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. IT'S GREAT TO SEE YOU.

TOMMY BOLT
GREAT TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

PETER KESSLER
BEFORE I FORGET, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TOSS AND A THROW?

TOMMY BOLT
PETER, A TOSS IS REALLY NOT A THROW. YOU HAVE TO USE THE PROPER GRIP TO THROW THAT CLUB. AND YOU HAVE TO TAKE A KIND -A LITTLE RUNNING START TO GET IT GOING.

PETER KESSLER
NOW, SUPPOSE YOU DON'T LIKE THE SHOT, AND THE CLUB GOES 30 FEET UP INTO THE AIR BUT LANDS NEAR THE BAG. WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT?

TOMMY BOLT
WELL, THAT'S THE TOSS TO THE CADDIE, A TOSS TO THE CADDIE.

PETER KESSLER
THAT'S A TOSS, OF COURSE.

YOU KNOW, WHEN GENE SARAZEN TURNED 90, THEY STARTED TO GIVE HIM ALL OF THESE AWARDS. AND HE KEPT SAYING, YOU KNOW, 'WHERE WAS I THE LAST 30 YEARS THAT YOU COULDN'T GIVE IT TO ME THEN?'

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU NOW, AT THE AGE OF 83, TO FINALLY DESERVEDLY GET YOURSELF INTO THE HALL OF FAME.

TOMMY BOLT
OH PETE, THAT WOULD UH . THAT'S WHAT I'M LIVING FOR, BOY, HONEST TO GOODNESS, STILL PLAYING GOLF AND TRYING TO PLAY GOLF, THAT IS, YOU KNOW, WORKING AT IT.

UH, IF I COULD GET INTO THE HALL OF FAME, THAT WOULD BE THE - THE - THE ULTIMATE UH, FINISH TO MY CAREER.

PETER KESSLER
NOW THAT'S THE SAME THING YOU WANTED REALLY WHEN YOU WERE 12 YEARS OLD, TO BE A PROFESSIONAL GOLFER AND TO MAKE IT AS FAR AS YOU COULD GO.

TOMMY BOLT
YES, I DID. I WANTED TO . UH, WE USED TO ALWAYS WHEN WE - WHEN THE CADDIES PLAYED, WE ALWAYS PLAYED FOR THE NATIONAL OPEN.

AND UH, I SET . SET THE NATIONAL OPEN AS MY GOAL. AND I ACHIEVED IT. AND AFTER THAT, I DIDN'T - THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE TO CONQUER. SO I DIDN'T REALLY PLAY TOO MUCH GOLF. I DIDN'T PLAY COMPETITIVELY LIKE I SHOULD HAVE.

I WON A COUPLE OF - COUPLE OF OTHER TOURNAMENTS, BUT I DIDN'T PLAY ENOUGH UH, COMPETITIVE GOLF.

PETER KESSLER
THAT SAME YEAR, 1928, WHEN YOU WERE 12 YEARS OLD AND YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL AND A GREAT ONE, LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE AT THE TIME, EVEN THOUGH STEEL HAD BEEN INVENTED,

EVERYBODY WAS STILL USING HICKORY. FOR GREAT PLAYERS LIKE JONES AND SARAZEN AND HAGEN, WHAT WAS THE SPECIAL CHALLENGE OF HICKORY?

TOMMY BOLT
OH MAN, IT WAS - UH, HICKORY WAS UM . I'LL TELL YOU UH, PETER, YOUR UH HICKORY SHAFTS WERE - WERE HARD TO PLAY WITH. THEY DIDN'T UH - THEY'RE NOT NEARLY AS GREAT AS THE MODERN CLUBS THAT WE HAVE NOW, THE UH EQUIPMENT WE HAVE NOWADAYS.

UH HICKORY SHAFTS, IN ORDER TO SOFTEN THE SHAFT, WE COULD BREAK A COKE BOTTLE AND KIND OF SCRAPE IT NEAR THE HEAD, YOU KNOW. AND TO GET THE RIGHT KICK, THE RIGHT FLEX IN THERE,

YOU'D UH SCRAPE SOME OF THE BARK OFF THE - UH, NOT THE BARK OFF THEM BUT SOME OF THE CLUB UH, OFF AND - AND GET THE UH, GET A LITTLE KICK INTO THE SHAFT.

OH, I'VE DONE THAT A LOT OF TIMES TO MAKE IT FEEL RIGHT, GET A LITTLE SNAP, GET A LITTLE KICK INTO THE BALL.

PETER KESSLER
YOU KNOW, A COUPLE YEARS LATER, IN 1930 WHEN YOU WERE 14 YEARS OLD, BOBBY JONES, OF COURSE, WON HIS GRAND SLAM. WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT?

TOMMY BOLT
I REMEMBER BOBBY JONES. AND HE WAS PROBABLY THE MOST UH RECOGNIZED SPORTS FIGURE IN 1932. HE - HE EVEN SURPASSED UH BABE RUTH UH, AS A - AS A SPORTS FIGURE .

IF I CAN REMEMBER CORRECTLY. AND UH.

HE WAS JUST A - THEN IN THOSE DAYS, HE WAS THE GREATEST GOLF PLAYER THAT WE EVER HAD, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

BUT WE'VE GOT SOME NOW THAT IT'S - THAT LOOK LIKE THEY'RE GONNA SURPASS HIM.

PETER KESSLER
NOW JONES WAS A MUCH BIGGER CLUB THROWER THAN YOU EVER WERE, WASN'T HE?

TOMMY BOLT
UH YEAH, HE THREW. HE - HE THREW MORE CLUBS, PETER, THAN I EVER SAW.

BUT UH, HE COULD THROW THEM BECAUSE UM, AND GET BY WITH IT, BECAUSE HIS DADDY OWNED A BANK. HE WAS UH .

HE - HE COULD AFFORD TO THROW THOSE GOLF CLUBS. IT WAS PRETTY TOUGH FOR ME TO THROW CLUBS IN THOSE DAYS `CAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH OF THEM REALLY TO BREAK THEM AND THROW THEM.

PETER KESSLER
NOW A GUY WHO TURNED PRO RIGHT AFTER JONES RETIRED IN 1930, AFTER HE WON THE GRAND SLAM, WAS BEN HOGAN, YOUR GREAT FRIEND.

WHY, WHEN YOU WROTE YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY WHICH YOU COMPLETED LAST YEAR, 'THE WHOLE TRUTH', DID YOU DECIDE TO DEDICATE IT TO BEN HOGAN?

TOMMY BOLT
WELL . IN MY ESTIMATION, HE'S THE GREATEST GOLF PLAYER THAT EVER LIVED, PETER, GREATEST I EVER PLAYED WITH.

UH, `COURSE THEY . SOME OF THE OTHER PLAYERS - SOME OF THE OTHER GUYS RANKED SNEAD ALONG WITH HIM. BUT UH, SNEAD'S - UH - UH, HOGAN IS THE GREATEST PLAYER THAT I'VE EVER PLAYED WITH .

PETER KESSLER
BETTER THAN NICKLAUS? BETTER THAN JONES?

TOMMY BOLT
UM .

YES, I NEVER PLAYED WITH JONES. BUT I'VE PLAYED NICKLAUS. I THINK THAT HOGAN WAS A BETTER PLAYER THAN NICKLAUS, YEAH. THEY - AND THEY - BUT THEY BOTH WERE GREAT CONCENTRATORS.

THEY - THEY - THEY WERE GOOD AT UH APPLYING THINGS - APPLYING THEMSELVES TO THE SHOTS THAT THEY WERE ABOUT TO MAKE. THE UH, THEY - THEY WERE EQUALLY AS GOOD, ONE AS GOOD AS THE OTHER.

YOU COULD SHOOT A CANNON IN UH, AT THE TOP OF THEIR SWING. IT WOULDN'T BOTHER THEM AT ALL `CAUSE THEY HAD THEIR MIND ON THEIR BUSINESS.

PETER KESSLER
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SWING WHEN YOU WERE A KID LONG BEFORE YOU AND BEN HOGAN EVER WORKED ON YOUR GOLF GAME TOGETHER?

TOMMY BOLT
WELL, I REALLY DIDN'T HAVE A VERY GOOD GOLF SWING WHEN I WAS A KID, PETER. I HAD A STRONG LEFT HAND. AND I WAS - I WAS - I FOUGHT THE HOOK.

AND FIGHTING THAT HOOK, BOY, IT'S JUST LIKE FIGHTING RATTLESNAKES. I MEAN IT IS TOUGH.

I - I WON TOURNAMENTS WHEN I TURNED PROFESSIONAL, BUT I REALLY DIDN'T KNOW HOW I WON THEM. I - I - I GOT IT UP AND DOWN FROM EVERYWHERE. AND UH,

I REALLY LEARNED TO PLAY GOLF WHEN I WENT TO BEN HOGAN. HE CHANGED MY GRIP . MOVED MY LEFT HAND OVER ON TOP OF THE CLUB.

PETER KESSLER
WHEN YOU WERE A KID AND YOU WOULD SEE SOMEBODY WITH A GOOD GOLF SWING, LIKE OTHER KIDS NOW AND THEN, YOU WOULD MIMIC THAT SWING.

TOMMY BOLT
YES, YOU WOULD. YOU'D UH - YOU'D PICK THE - YOU'D CADDIE FOR SOME OF THE BETTER PLAYERS AND - AND YOU'D MIMIC THE UH, BETTER PLAYERS BECAUSE - `CAUSE THERE WAS SOME PRETTY GOOD PLAYERS BACK IN THOSE DAYS.

AND THERE WAS SOME PRETTY GOOD SWINGS. AND THAT'S THE SWINGS THAT YOU MIMICKED.

PETER KESSLER
NOW WHEN WE COME BACK, WE'RE GONNA TALK ABOUT THE FELLOW THAT YOU ALLUDED TO A MINUTE AGO WHEN YOU SAID THERE'S SOME AWFULLY GREAT PLAYERS.

AND I THINK YOU'RE THINKING OF ONE IN PARTICULAR, TIGER WOODS. AND WE'LL TALK ABOUT YOUR REACTION TO WHAT HE'S UP TO RIGHT AFTER THIS. WE'LL BE BACK WITH TOMMY BOLT.

(BREAK)

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