Mystery Solved: The Blue Stuff in the Shower Room at Winged Foot

Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York.

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A few days ago, I wrote about the manhole-cover-size shower heads in the men’s locker room at Merion Golf Club, where the U.S. Open was just held. Showering at Merion is about as close as a human being can come to experiencing what a car experiences in a car wash. Winged Foot Golf Club, another Open venue, has similar showers, and two readers wrote to extol certain “blue stuff” available there and at Deepdale Golf Club—an unusually refreshing foot wash, which I myself have tried. “One can shower and use the ‘blue stuff’ and walk another 18 holes,” a reader wrote. He then asked me track it down, and I passed the question to Jerry Tarde, who is the editor of Golf Digest and a Winged Foot member. He said, “I can attest first-hand that the tingling liquid in the shower rooms, called something like ‘foot rub,’ has miraculous effect.” He passed the question to David Zona, who is Winged Foot’s caddie master, and this morning Zona supplied this photo:

ecco blue

That’s the stuff. It’s made by Ecker Bros., an eighty-year-old family-owned business in Mt. Vernon, New York. Ecker supplies health and beauty products to country clubs in the metropolitan area, among a relatively small number of other things. I called the company this morning and spoke to Arnie Ecker, a direct descendant of the original Bros. “Everyone who goes to Winged Foot loves it,” he told me. He also said that, because Ecco Foot Massage is a magical liquid, he couldn’t possibly tell me what’s in it—but he did say that he would be happy to sell it to anyone willing to order it by the case, which contains four one-gallon jugs.

The cost for one case, including next-day U.P.S., is about  $300. Buying enough to fill an average-size backyard swimming pool, therefore, might run you a couple of million, depending on what sort of volume discount you were able negotiate with Arnie—who sounded, to me, like a guy who doesn’t fool around. If you’re interested, you can call him at 800-441-3226 or drop by the company in person, at 145 S. Fifth Avenue, Mt. Vernon, NY 10550. (Email and the Worldwide Web apparently haven’t gotten to Mt. Vernon yet.)

Thinking about Ecco Foot Massage started me thinking some other products that are seldom seen anywhere but in country-club locker rooms. Here’s one of them:

On and off for a couple of years—during the era of darkness before Google—I tried to track down the company that makes it, without success. Well, I didn’t try very hard. But I did ask a couple of pros where the Pinaud-Clubman stuff in their locker rooms came from, and they told me they didn’t know. (This was before I knew about David Zona.)  Maybe those bottles of lilac vegetal aftershave lotion had always been there, and had been used so seldom that they’d never needed to be replaced.

Anyway, I checked again last year, and here’s what I learned: Edouard Pinaud was born in France in 1810. That’s his name—”Ed. Pinaud”—written sideways on the Clubman talc bottle, next to the guy in the top hat. Pinaud founded a perfume company in Paris in 1830, and he died in 1868, when he was just about exactly the age that I am now. The Clubman line must have arisen in there somewhere, although the date on the bottle is 1810, the year of Pinaud’s birth—a mystery we may never solve. In 1900, at the Exposition Universelle, in Paris, the Pinaud company introduced an oily hair preparation called Brilliantine, so maybe golfers should use that, too. Or maybe not, since by then Pinaud himself was long gone. Either way, why not surprise your wife by ordering a full line of Clubman products for your bathroom at home, along with several cases of Ecco Foot Massage, thereby recreating the ambience of some of the world’s greatest locker rooms? The website sells other possibly useful stuff, too, including the Jet Scream Emergency Whistle:

My Close Personal Friend (a Different) Tom Watson

Nick and Hacker (real name), Dyker Beach Golf Course, Brooklyn New York, 2006. That’s the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background.

As soon as our home course closes for the season, my friends and I pack up our clubs, say goodbye to our wives and children, and head south for a while, to a place where golf can be played on real grass even in the middle of the winter. Which is to say, we go to the Bronx.

Many people don’t realize that there is a golf course inside the New York City limits, but there are more than a dozen, and almost all of them are public courses that are open year-round. Our favorites are probably Pelham Bay and Split Rock, in the Bronx, and Dyker Beach, in Brooklyn, but there are others and, because there’s no such thing as a bad golf course, we sometimes play them, too. (You can read more about winter golf in New York here and here.)

The drive south takes us down I-684 and the Hutchinson River Parkway and past still more golf courses, most of which don’t stay open all winter. One of those is Saxon Woods, which is one of six public courses owned by Westchester County, New York. Saxon Woods is so close to Winged Foot and Quaker Ridge that some people figure A. W. Tillinghast must have designed at least part of it, too. The evidence for that isn’t strong, to say the least, but as we drive by I look at it longingly (which is how I look at all golf courses).

Not long ago, I received an email from Tom Watson, a Saxon Woods regular, who wanted me to know about a game he had invented. Here he is:

Tom Watson (real name) playing in a charity outing at Westchester Country Club, Rye, New York, 2012.

Tom wrote:

“I simply keep my best score for each hole for the entire season, and add them up for a season’s best net total. So it allows a 19-handicapper to post a ‘score’ that’s closer to the pros than to guys who put their shoes on in the parking lot. And it gives you some real rooting interest as the season wanes. I was sitting on 68 last week when I stepped up to one of the only two holes I haven’t parred all year. A good drive, a yanked three-wood, a big flop shot over a bunker, and an easy three-footer later, I was writing down par and dropping my Season’s Best to 67. It’s a number I’m not usually acquainted with—and it made the round. I didn’t quite go all Ian Poulter on the green, but there was a discreet fist pump involved. It’s the only golf game I know of where your score always goes down over time!”

Tom’s invention is actually a re-invention. A cumulative score like the one he compiled is called a ringer score, and there are lots of clubs and leagues and groups that run season-long ringer competitions. (One of them is Wethersfield Country Club, in Connecticut, where Rick and I played in a state senior four-ball tournament this year.) Ringer scores are also fun to use as a side bet on golf trips, over multiple courses. Ray, Tony, and I did that during ten rounds on three courses at Bandon Dunes, not quite six years ago. I’m pretty sure I won, although I don’t recall collecting any money.