How To Play Golf With a Broken Neck

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My column in the August issue of Golf Digest is about my friend Thomas Tami, an ear-nose-and-throat doctor in Cincinnati, who broke his neck when he was in college, forty years ago, and took up golf a decade later even though he can’t turn his head without turning his torso.”When I take the club back,” he told me, “I completely lose the ball, and I never pick it up on the way down.” He’s a player, though. His best score for 18 holes is 76 at his home course, Hyde Park Golf & Country Club, which was designed mostly by Donald Ross. Here’s a video of Tami hitting a shot at Hyde Park two years ago:
Try that yourself sometime (on the range) if you think it looks easy.
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Video: Myrtle Beach Golfer Hits Self With Own Ball

Jim Coleman (left), showing a friend the video below, George Wright Golf Course, Boston, May, 2013.

Jim Coleman (left), showing a friend the video below, in the grillroom at George Wright Golf Course, Boston, June, 2013.

Back in June, I played a round at George Wright Golf Course, a muny, in the Hyde Park section of Boston. Among the people I played with was Jim Coleman, a caterer, at left in the photo above. Coleman runs the clubhouse grillroom, and after our round we had a terrific lunch, during which showed us a video, on his phone, of a friend hitting himself with his own golf ball during a trip to Myrtle Beach:

Coleman also showed us a video of the same guy taking an unusually large divot with a fairway wood:

Coleman has transformed the grillroom, and made it a popular hangout. He had the brilliant idea of turning several tabletops into scoreboards for the complicated golf games played by George Wright’s regular leagues. They’re thick slabs of slate with grid lines painted on them, and you can write on them with chalk:

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“K of C” (at the top of the grid on the tabletop above) stands for “Knights of Columbus.” George Wright also has a Polish League, although most of the guys in it nowadays aren’t Polish. (“They were running out,” one member told me.) Everybody in the grillroom is a Bruins fan, though.

IMG_1613The banner in the photo above, which is displayed next to an Irish flag, looks a lot like the ones that hang from the ceiling at the Boston Garden. Coleman acquired some time ago, under circumstances he didn’t fully describe. “I kind of swindled it out of a guy,” he said.

IMG_1606George Wright Golf Course, incidentally, was named after a star player for the Boston Red Stockings—who, among numerous other accomplishments, batted first in the first National League game, on April 22, 1876.

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Ed Heimann Has a Better Short Game Than You Do

Ed Heimann, Hyde Park Golf and Country Club, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 9, 2013.

Ed Heimann, Hyde Park Golf & Country Club, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 9, 2013.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the tremendous good fortune to play a round of golf (and give an evening talk and slide show) at Hyde Park Golf & Country Club, in Cincinnati. The club’s original course, which had nine holes, was laid out by Tom Bendelow in 1909, and the current course, which has eighteen holes, all of them terrific, was designed by Donald Ross a little over a decade later.

Among the members I played with was Ed Heimann, who has won Hyde Park’s club championship twenty-one times, in six different decades. His first win was in 1964, when he was twenty-six; his most recent was in 2010, when he was seventy-two. And he’s been the runner-up half a dozen times, during years when (I guess) he was struggling with his game.

Ed Heimann has won the Hyde Park club championship so often that his victories won't all fit on one plaque.

Ed Heimann has won the Hyde Park club championship so often that his victories spill over onto a second plaque.

His most recent victories. Still room for more.

His most recent victories. Still room for more.

Heimann isn’t very long off the tee anymore, but from inside a hundred yards he routinely gets the ball closer to the hole than many good players do from the fringe—a skill that’s especially devastating in match play, since guys who out-drive him by a hundred yards don’t expect to have to putt first. My advice to other golfers is to emulate everything Heimann does, including plumb-bobbing and wearing a green glove. And if you ever find yourself in a match with him you might as well just give him ten-footers.

Ed Heimann and Ian Wilt.

Ed Heimann and Ian Wilt. “That’s good, Ed.”

Heimann has a more interesting job than you do, too: he is the chairman of Hamilton Tailoring Company, in Avondale, which was founded the same year Hyde Park was. Hamilton has made clothing for customers as different as Perry Como and John Daly, and since 1967 it has been the exclusive manufacturer of the three-button, single-breasted sports coats worn by Augusta National members and Masters winners. (The exact shade of green: Pantone 342.) Heimann established his Augusta relationship by employing the same kind of creativity and determination that he has used to pick apart opponents in club matches for the past half-century. So watch it.