Watching The Masters this past week I was struck, not by the tournament itself but, by Ben Crenshaw’s interview. I
am not really sure what precisely it was about the interview, as he didn’t really say anything particularly memorable.
In fact, I can’t remember a single word he said. But you see, it wasn’t what he said; it was how he said it. His
demeanor was calm, collected, and decisive. He wasn’t demanding attention or even seeking it, rather he was
attracting attention because of his sage-like, relaxed, and confident mannerisms.
Oddly enough, my recent trip to Pinehurst was still fresh in my mind while watching the Masters. And during that
Pinehurst trip I watched Mr. Crenshaw and his partner, Bill Coore, discuss the renovations on closed-circuit television
again and again and again while staying at The Carolina Inn. He had that same demeanor and despite all the
knowledge and golf course architecture speak they were throwing about, his statement about the “honor” it was to be
chosen to renovate the historic #2 course stuck in my brain. “What an honor” was a phrase he said over and over.
After this Masters, I searched Ben Crenshaw’s name on the Internet and this quote came up that was attributed to
him, "If we are to preserve the integrity of golf as left to use by our forefathers, it is up to all of us to
carry on the true spirit of the game." Hmmm…again this spoke to me and seemed very much akin to his
statement about the “honor” involved in renovating #2 at Pinehurst.
Interestingly enough, during my search I also discovered that throughout the course of Mr. Crenshaw’s life he’s been
awarded the Bobby Jones award, which is the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in
recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf; the Old Tom Morris award, which is the Golf Course
Superintendents Association of America's most prestigious honor and it is presented each year to an individual who
"through a continuing lifetime commitment to the game of golf has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a
manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris."; and he has been given the Payne Stewart Award, which is an
award given by the PGA Tour in honor of a player who shows respect for the traditions of the game, commitment to
uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the
sport through his dress and conduct. To add further intrigue to this search, I placed each one of these award’s
namesakes as being in the Top 10 Class Acts in golf history. And here was Mr. Ben Crenshaw being honored with
an award named after each one of these golfing icons.
I suppose I highlight these things about Mr. Crenshaw for a few reasons. Most of you who are into golf already know
that he is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, a winner many times over on the PGA Tour, and was one of the
most highly acclaimed collegiate golfers of all time. And, furthermore, he is a Major golf champion with two Masters
Championships under his belt. But digging a little deeper some really fantastic things rear their head regarding Mr.
Crenshaw’s golfing career.
Remember that 2nd Masters title? It was 1995 and his mentor, Harvey Penick has just passed away a week before
the tournament. It seemed Ben’s game was on the fritz a little bit, as his previous three Masters resulted in a 46th
place finish, a missed cut, and a tie for 18th place. But yet, he won that magical Masters in 1995 after the death of
his mentor and dropped his hands to his knees and started crying right after holing that putt to win. After that, Ben
would never again finish higher than 45th in the Masters and would miss 13 of the next 16 cuts. Odd that he’d win
that particular one, isn’t it?
Then, remember the Ryder Cup Battle at Brookline in 1999? The U.S. Team was getting smoked by the Europeans
until the last day, when Justin Leonard hit that miracle putt to catapult the U.S. Team to an improbable victory. The
night before Ben Crenshaw, the team captain, said "I'm a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about tomorrow.
That's all I'm gonna say." Once again, I find that quote and those events to be worthy of note.
To take this whole thing up another notch, Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore revolutionized golf course architecture with
their breakthrough design at Sand Hills in Mullen, Nebraska. Not to mention, Friar’s Head or Old Sandwich; all
It seems there is more to this man than meets the eye and perhaps he is the modern day golf icon we should all be
keeping an eye on and emulating. I currently don’t have him listed in my Top 10 Class Acts in the Golfing World.
Based on what I have learned over the last few weeks, I am certain my list is faulty.