Skip to main content

Book club: Arnie, Seve and a Fleck of Golf History

Getty Images

Bill Fields' book

Veteran golf journalist and Golf World senior editor Bill Fields offers a collection of golf stories in his latest book, "Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships." From Arnold Palmer to Bert Yancey, Fields shares his compelling tales of golf's legends and lesser-knowns. Click here to order, and get a 25-percent discount (use promo code 6GCF when you place your order). Check out an excerpt below and click on the link for more of the story:

Chapter 30

Whether it was when he was a boy growing up in the Florida panhandle, or as one of the best players in the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s, or as an aging pro trying to hang on to a senior tour exemption, Bert Yancey could never get enough golf. Above almost everything else, the people who loved him remember this. Often the recollection comes with a smile, but some times with a tear.

Yancey’s twin brother recalls the sticky summer mornings on a public course in Tallahassee. They were only five or six years old, dropped off most days by their father, Malcolm, the city manager. “Bert took it seriously from the very beginning,” Bill Yancey says. “We used to get in arguments on the course. I’d be down in the creek chasing frogs, and he’d say, ‘Get up here, play golf.’” It was a spirited love that accompanied him to the sport’s peaks and into its depths, a journey that mirrored a more powerful duel going on within, a struggle that on a good day could only be wrestled to a draw.

“Around and around we’d play,” says Mark McCumber, recalling as many as fifty-four holes a day in the 1980s when he was being tutored by Yancey. “He’d beat balls and play, beat balls and play. I’ve never known anybody who loved to play golf as much as he did.”

Frank Beard was one of Yancey’s good friends on the PGA Tour.

“Sometimes he got too intense, got in his own way,” Beard says. “He’d be fumbling around with all these different golf swings and forget to play golf. It didn’t seem to bother him - it was like he was on some mission to find the perfect golf swing.”

Yancey’s mission - to play, to teach, to be a golfer - was fueled with both public bravery and private risk. Sidetracked many times by manic depression, it ended August 26, 1994, about the only place it made sense that it end for him, at a golf course, a bucket of balls at his feet.

Click here to read more from Chapter 30