Remembering Ouimet: The search for Francis

By Mercer BaggsJune 6, 2013, 11:30 am

BOSTON – You don’t stumble across Barbara McLean’s home. You have to go looking for it (praise Jesus for Google maps and iPhones).

It resides down in the tail-end tip of Massachusetts, near Cape Cod, in the town of Osterville. Inside, there is an obvious Francis Ouimet feel, which is appropriate since Barbara is his daughter. But aside from the famous image of Francis in his red R&A captain’s jacket which hangs above her mantel, most else needs a bit of explaining.

 Remembering Ouimet
Baggs: Who was Francis?
Tays: Anatomy of upset
Tays: Turning point in U.S.
Mosier: Eddie Lowery story
Timeline | Trivia | Bag | Photos
Why Vardon and Ray?
The Country Club
Vardon and the Titanic
Inspiring other writers
Full Coverage

“Everything of interest to me was stuff around the house,” Barbara says. “The things that I kept were the things that meant the most to me.”

Among the items in Barbara’s house include Francis’ original World Golf Hall of Fame plaque, presented at Pinehurst in 1974. There are some small, engraved cups for awards given to her father and a handful of post-mortem tributes, but nothing that jumps out at you in terms of significance.

That’s because the significance is personal.

“That trophy over there,” Barbara says pointing to an antique-looking, silver piece of memorabilia. “That is the Shepard’s cup. That’s one of my favorites. Caitlin used to sit in that when she was a baby.”

Caitlin is Barbara’s granddaughter. The John Shepard Jr. trophy was won by Francis in 1914, in a tournament contested among Boston-area clubs.

Francis Ouimet medal

On a table rests a gold medal. It was given to Francis for tying third in the 1925 U.S. Open. Barbara used to wear it around her neck as a charm, on a chain which formerly held her father’s pocket watch.

An antique dealer once offered Barbara $5,000 for it. “Not for sale,” she replied. He upped the offer to $12,000. “Not. For. Sale.”

In searching for her father – the notion of who he was – I met Barbara and her husband of nearly 71 years, Obder “Bro” McLean, at their Massachusetts home. We talked for two hours, even had coffee and English muffins. I also talked to Francis’ granddaughter, Sheila Macomber, and his great-granddaughter, the aforementioned Caitlin Wallerce.

If you can judge a man based solely on his descendants then, on first impression, Francis Ouimet was an exemplary individual. His family, and others engaged during a three-day visit to the Bay State, substantiated that assessment.

The centerpiece of the trip was the annual Ouimet Scholarship Fund gala, this year celebrating the 100th anniversary of Francis' 1913 U.S. Open triumph. Arnold Palmer was the honoree (he was also honored at the first gala in 1997). Mark Frost, who authored “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” based on Ouimet’s improbable victory, was there, as was Bill Paxton, who directed the movie. There were several video tributes, including those from Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.

The highlight of the evening, however, was Julia McCarthy.

McCarthy is a Ouimet scholar, of which the fund motto is: “From what golf has given you – let’s give back to golf.” Since 1949, 5,100 young men and women who work in the Massachusetts golf industry (many who served as caddies like Francis) have been granted a total of $26.5 million in financial assistance to help obtain a college education.

Ellis Jones was a recipient. He is now a 27-year-old husband and father of two, who is successfully working as a Xerox auditor.

“The scholarship gave me the opportunity to really further my education,” Jones says. “It relieved angst and anxiety. Without it, it would have meant taking a lot more loans and it would have been a decision (whether or not to go to college) I would have really had to think about.”

Ellis grew up attracted to golf; he began playing when he was 6. As Julia puts it in her speech before 2,100 attendees the night of the gala, “I did not grow up with an instinctual love or gravitation toward the game. I never went to any summer camps or clinics to improve my own play. ... I did not come to love golf so naturally. I first came to golf in order to help out my family.”

Julia is one of 11 children. When the economy tanked, her family lost their home and they hotel hopped for several months. Her father also split on them.

She started caddying at Green Hill Golf Course while in the seventh grade, after the facility got funding to accept inner-city kids to a caddie program. In addition to helping her mother pay for gas and groceries, she earned something of more lasting value than a paycheck.

“Every time I was at that golf course, I felt at peace,” she says. “I found a renewed faith in manners, in people. I felt safe, wanted, valued.

“Golf is more than just a game. It is a way of life.”

Julia is currently a sophomore at Holy Cross, majoring in English and theater.

“We’re not talking about golf,” Palmer says that evening, in relation to the scholarship fund’s importance. “We’re talking about people and children and letting them know how important their actions are on our lives.”

During the gala, Frost remarks, “All you had to do was listen to Julia’s speech and know where (Ouimet’s) impact is being felt today.”

And the genesis was Brookline.

Francis Ouimet houseFacing The Country Club’s 17th hole is 246 Clyde Street, home to the Ouimet family. At least it once was. It is currently owned by Jerome and Doris Wieler.

The house was built in 1887; the Ouimets moved in, in ‘96; and the Wielers bought it in 1989.

“The historical footprint is still the same. The rooms are the same size. Other than a few things here and there, very little has changed on the inside,” Jerome says.

The outside of the house looks very similar to historical photos. Except there is a fence out front now, along with four lanes of paved road and an employee parking lot between the house and the club. The backyard, which used to be a cow pasture and was where Francis’ brother Wilfred built three holes, is now trees and manufactured property as far as the eye can see.

A peek through the front porch window shows the old hardwood floors and the confined rooms. It also alerts a slightly chagrined home owner. But he’s used to strange people snooping around his house.

“Interest in the house goes in spurts,” Jerome says. “It picked up with the book, the movie, the (1999) Ryder Cup (at Brookline). People wanted to talk to us and take photos of the house.

“My wife and I are not golfers, but when we moved here I read up on him. I can say that I have really come to admire Francis Ouimet. Everything I know about him shows that he was a genuinely decent man.”

A couple of miles down the road from his childhood home, in Holyhood Cemetery, Francis is buried alongside his wife of 49 years, Stella Sullivan.

Armed with a digital image of the headstone and this knowledge, but without the knowledge that the cemetery is situated over 35 acres, I embarked on a futile endeavor.

Amazingly, I found a Ouimet headstone for Arthur and Mary Ellen, Francis’ parents, but gave up on the Sullivan search after an hour. Apparently, John Sullivan is a very popular name in the area. At least it used to be. It seems everyone with that name has died and been buried at Holyhood.

Francis Ouimet Room

The final stop on the trip is the William F. Connell Golf House & Museum at TPC Boston, home to the PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank Championship. It houses the Ouimet Room as well as the office of Bob Donovan, executive director of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund.

As Donovan shows, the room is sectioned according to different aspects of his career, ranging from his Walker Cup appearances (nine times as a player, three times as a nonplaying captain) to his U.S. Open victory to the book and movie which honored his great accomplishment.

There are artifacts, like the $.25 stamp commissioned in his likeness in 1988, making him one of only four golfers to have such an honor (Bobby Jones, Babe Zaharias, Palmer), trophies and presidential letters. Again, there is the famous Red Jacket portrait, which Donovan points out was painted by president Dwight D. Eisenhower and that the original version resides at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in a “place of prominence.”

Ouimet's most significant memorabilia resides at the USGA Museum, in Far Hills, N.J., in an exhibit entitled "America's First Golf Hero." It includes his putter and four of his irons from his 1913 victory – mid-iron, mashie, mashie-niblick and jigger; the three balls used by Ouimet, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the playoff; their scorecards and Ouimet's championship medal. It also houses his championship medals from the 1914 and '31 U.S. Amateurs.

His red R&A jacket hangs there, as well. Funny story about that coat.

"My sister had one of those portraits over her mantel piece," Barbara tells, referencing the one that hangs in her house. "One day there was a girl playing there, and she said to Les (Barbara's niece, Leslie), 'Who is that?' Les said, 'That's my grampy.' The little girl says, 'What is he, a waiter?'

"Dad would have gotten a big kick out of that."

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.