JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sixty years after he wrote from the first of 210 major championships, Dan Jenkins is headed for the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Jenkins, 82, will be only the sixth media member in the Hall when he is inducted May 7 at the World Golf Village along with Phil Mickelson, Hollis Stacy and two other inductees who are to be announced Thursday in London.
His career goes from Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods, from the manual typewriter to Twitter, and Jenkins is still going. He previously worked for the Fort Worth Press, the Dallas Times Herald and Sports Illustrated, and he has been writing for Golf Digest since 1985. Jenkins also has written 20 books, including “Dead Solid Perfect.”
“Being from Fort Worth, I would follow Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson anywhere,” Jenkins said Wednesday on a conference call to announce that he was selected through the Lifetime Achievement category. “Since they’re in there, I’m happy to be the third guy from Fort Worth so included.
“I’m delighted to be in such good company with the people who are already in there, especially the players.”
The other five media members in the Hall of Fame are writers Herbert Warren Wind, Bob Harlow, Herb Graffis, Bernard Darwin and television producer Frank Chirkinian. They were inducted posthumously.
“I should note that over the years, the World Golf Hall of Fame has been very sparse in their recognition of people from Dan’s craft, only recognizing the very, very best,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.
Jenkins covered his first major at the 1951 U.S. Open. Hogan shot 67 in the final round to win at Oakland Hills, and Jenkins still says that round on that “monster” of a golf course remains as good as he has seen anyone play.
“Oakland Hills looked more like a penitentiary than a golf course,” Jenkins said.
He listed that among his top three moments in golf, along with Jack Nicklaus winning his sixth Masters at age 46 and the 1960 U.S. Open, regarded by many as being one of the greatest days in the history of the championship. Arnold Palmer shot 65 in the final round to beat Hogan, the aging star, and Nicklaus, the emerging star who was still an amateur that day at Cherry Hills.
“I’d never experienced – even as an old, cynical writer – as much excitement as all of us felt that afternoon following that action,” Jenkins said. “There have been so many great moments in golf that you even forget some of them. But that one still stands out. … There have been so many great tournaments that I’ve been privileged to see, and people paid me to go watch, that I’m awfully grateful for it.
“And I’m so happy that I chose the profession I did.”
His writing style was grounded in humor, and he often mocked the players he felt unworthy to win a major – starting with Jack Fleck, who took down his beloved Hogan in a playoff at Olympic Club for the 1955 U.S. Open, which remains one of the game’s biggest upsets.
Through all of his writings, though, Jenkins said he never tried to sell out accuracy for a good joke.
“Even though I was making a stab at humor, I don’t think I ever wrote a line I didn’t believe,” Jenkins said. “I tried not to draw too much blood. I tried to rave about all the heroes of the game, and they deserved it. … When something great happens—like when an Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods or Ben Hogan happens—you don’t have to be funny, you just have to be accurate.
“When you have to be funny is when you’re on deadline and somebody like Jack Fleck creeps up on you,” he said. “That’s when you have to tap dance, because it doesn’t make any sense. We have more and more of that these days, don’t we?”
Jenkins already is in the Texas Golf Hall of Fame and the National Sportscasters and Sports Writers Hall of Fame.
Finchem listed all his achievements, including his numerous writing awards, when introducing him on the conference call.
“You left out my cure for polio,” Jenkins replied.