Ben Wright Blog


Ben Wright is 77 and living, if not in exile in idyllic Flat Rock, North Carolina, then certainly far from the wreckage of a once brilliant broadcasting career.

In 1995, Wright stepped over the line of political correctness in an interview about the LPGA Tour.   “Lesbians in the sport hurt women’s golf,” he was quoted as saying.

The seeds were planted in childhood growing up in London. “I was a bloody nuisance really,” he said, during my recent interview with him for Golf in America. And now he was animated, in full John Houseman mode.

“I dodged bombs through World War II,” he explained. “I’m sure you’ve seen some movie where the kids become little terrors.  I started a bicycle gang and we would cycle to where the enemy planes were brought down by the heroic RAF and we’d strip everything we could and sell it.”

So Wright was making mischief at an early age. “And it’s not been much different ever since,” he said with a laugh.

If Wright courted trouble, at least he’d never be dull. Ben may have been the most interesting man in the world long before those priceless Dos Equis beer commercials hit air.

He was a Russian language interpreter for British Intelligence during the Cold War. “I’m a little rusty,” he said, and peeled off a couple sentences in Russian that sounded legit to this untrained ear.

He drank with Hemingway at Harry’s Bar in Paris.  “I was terribly impressed by him because he talked like he wrote, in taut, short sentences.  And he was a handsome man, white beard and white hair and he was a huge man.”

It’d be easy to listen to Wright’s stories for hours, for that’s what he was born to do, tell stories, to talk. 

He nearly and hilariously reduced me to tears recounting the time he lost his false teeth in a toilet before calling golf at The Western Open, regaled me with boozy, boys-will-be-boys tales of his glory days at CBS with Summerall, Kenny and the gang.

Eventually, I turned the conversation to the incident. I asked if he thought the interview with the Delaware reporter was off the record.  “Yes,” he said.  But he goes on to admit, “She said it wasn’t off the record yet she didn’t have a bloody notebook.”

I then reminded him that she did have a notebook, but not a recorder.

“Not a tape recorder, you’re right.  But she didn’t use it.” [the notebook]

The ’95 article also quoted Wright as saying, “Women are handicapped by having boobs.”

And now Wright becomes incredulous. “I became the boob on the tube on the front page of the newspapers, big picture of me and big letters spelling out boob on the tube.  Pretty tough, I’ll tell you.”

On we went, with Ben in one moment seeming to own his role in the fiasco, at others still harboring some resentment. 

But it’s long ago by now. Golf audiences missed what could have been some good years.

He loved a good conversation.  He loved a good drink. Too much of both undid a man who might have become as iconic as Peter Alliss and Henry Longhurst, the British broadcasting giants.

“Could anyone command a room better than you when the booze was flowing and everyone was there?” I asked.

“Well in my own mind no one did, no,” he said.