Golfing legend and television commentator Ken Venturi reflects on a life on the links
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Hopper, Jan/Feb 01
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CA: In other professional sports where the money has gotten so big, many observers have come to feel that the athletes just don't give a damn any more. They're not putting in the extra hours, hitting balls in the stadium, running pass routes, shooting free throws. That hasn't happened in golf. And, now with Tiger on the scene, people are working even harder at improving their game. Is that your impression, too?
Venturi: It's the only sport that I know of where the rewards and penalties are made by yourself. You don't have a team to depend on. You don't have other players. I mean, you have to do it yourself. Hogan said one time, "There're three ways to win: you outwork 'em, you outthink 'em, and then you intimidate 'em." That is what Tiger Woods is doing. He's outworking them, he's outthinking them and he's intimidating them.
There's so much money out there. The players have to work to get to that level, but there's more money out there today for dead last in some tournaments than a good player would win all year when I was playing. I can go back to my first tournament I won. I was on tour for a couple of months -- about six weeks or so -- and I won a couple back to back. I shot 26 under par and first prize was $2,000.
CA: I read where the average purse this year is going to be between three and four million bucks.
Venturi: God bless 'em. I think it's great. But I say no matter how much money they play for, you gotta remember where the game started. I made a speech once to the graduating class of the players that were going on tour. I told them, "Remember when you see some of the older players to thank them, because they are allowing you to play for this money and play the game of golf for a living."
CA: Is Ken Venturi going to be behind the mike at the Masters this year?
Venturi: I'm going to retire. So, it's going to be a very limited scheduling if I do go back. I've signed a contract with CBS for six tournaments, which includes the Masters and the PGA Championship. I was having dinner with DiMaggio one time, and I asked him, "Why did you retire? You had a lot of good years left." He said, "Ken, remember this: when you're good you can always get in. It's knowing when to get out." And that is one great line. And I think it's time. Thirty-two years is a long time. I went longer than I was going to anyway. But after losing my wife, I said I needed something to do. But I've got other things to do. It's not like I'm going to come home and sit in a rocking chair. I've got a lot of things to do.
I just think it's time to move on.