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November 10, 2008
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA
JACK PETER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Jack Peter, the chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and I'd like to thank our good friends in the media for being here today. This is a very special day, which is part of a very special weekend leading up to what we think is going to be an incredibly special evening.
I am fortunate today to be joined by three individuals who represent part of the class of 2008, Sir Bob Charles, Mr. Pete Dye, and Ms. Carol Semple Thompson.
Bob, as everyone knows, was selected for induction in the Veterans Category. He is our first New Zealander inducted into the Hall of Fame, and as I just learned about at lunch, he's actually right-handed, but he hits it back-handed.
Bob has amassed an incredible record, and I'm going to let him tell you about it, but 50 years of competitive golf around the world, and we're really very, very pleased to welcome him into the family.
In the Lifetime Achievement Category, Pete Dye is going to join us. You know that Pete is one of the most influential golf course architects of all time. More than 120 courses host his designs, and not to mention the Players Stadium Course right down the road here, so we're really pleased to have Pete Dye joining our family, as well.
Lastly, also in the Lifetime Achievement Category, Carol Semple Thompson, who is really the embodiment of a Hall of Fame golfer. Career amateur, has played more than 100 USGA tournaments, a record 12 USA Curtis Cup teams, and is just a great lady, and it's been a pleasure to get to know her, her mother and her family while they've been here this weekend. So congratulations to each of you for your accomplishments in the world of golf and today on your induction.
At this time I would like each of you to share with us some thoughts on what it means to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I think we will start on the end with Bob.
SIR BOB CHARLES: What does it mean? Well, it's certainly a very proud moment for me, particularly coming from New Zealand, and to be the first New Zealander to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As Jack has told you, I've had 50 years of traveling around the world playing competitive golf, and I'm in the twilight years of my career. I played 12 tournaments, three here in the United States and nine in Europe, this year. So I'm semi-retired for a number of years.
So this is the -- well, I've won a few awards in my career and in my lifetime, and this is something special. To join a lot of my contemporaries in this room, et cetera, et cetera, so it means a lot to me and also to my country.
JACK PETER: Pete, welcome to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
PETE DYE: Well, it's great to be here. When Mr. Finchem called, I thought surely something had gone wrong (laughter). I was scared to even call him back because they kept telling me he was looking for me, and I thought, either the pipes are blowing up or something is going wrong someplace.
But I finally got on the phone, and he said he had good news and told me I was coming into the World Golf Hall of Fame. I was just thrilled, and I said, Well, you went to the bottom of the barrel and caught me, I guess.
To see all the great people who were here and going in, and of course I knew Denny Shute and I used to watch him play exhibitions for war bonds during the war, and Herbert Warren Wind, I've known him forever, and when I was building down in the Dominican Republic he came down to do this article, and I was thrilled to death that he was going to do an article about me. And the first thing he said in his article is "Pete Dye is totally illiterate in two languages, one Spanish and the other English," but I'm still glad to be here and surprised.
JACK PETER: We're glad you're here, too, Pete. Thank you. Carol?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: I think surprise is probably the word I'd use for me. I never in a million years would have expected something like this for an amateur player. I know there are our amateur players in the World Golf Hall of Fame, but I never thought of myself as being in that category. But I'm certainly thrilled, couldn't be happier to be joining my class this year, Pete, Sir Bob.
I knew Herbert Warren Wind, not well, but I met him. Unfortunately I never met Mr. Wood or Mr. Shute. But I certainly have read about them. They're well-deserving gentlemen, and I wish I had known them. So I'm just thrilled to be here.
JACK PETER: We're going to open it up for questions in just a second, but I'm going to go off script here and ask Carol to relay a story that we just heard that has to do with a phone call. I believe she was in a kitchen somewhere in Baltimore.
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, it dovetails on what Pete was just talking about, that Tim Finchem was chasing Pete around the country looking for him. He thought nothing good was going to come of the phone call.
But I had found out that I was going in the Hall of Fame early in April, and Pete and Alice and I were staying at someone's house in Baltimore in May. I had been told that I was going in but I couldn't tell anyone. So I, of course, told my mother first thing, and she told most of the people that she knew, even though she was forbidden to tell anyone.
But when Pete got the call in this house in Baltimore, I was standing right there when he came out of the room, and he said, "Those crazy guys want me to go in the Hall of Fame." I said, "Oh, that's really nice, Pete." And I couldn't say anything. I didn't think I could say anything because I wasn't allowed to tell anyone before I got my official call from this man here.
So I didn't tell him, but I was sorely tempted. But I was there. I was right there, Pete.
JACK PETER: That's a great story.
At this time we'll open it up.
Q. I wonder if Bob and Carol, do you have a memorable or a favorite or maybe not-so-favorite story of a round of golf, whether it was competitive or not or casual on one of Pete's courses?
PETE DYE: He had two 2s the other day. Just think of those, will you?
SIR BOB CHARLES: Well, all right. My son and I played at TPC Sawgrass yesterday, and I won't bore you with a hole-by-hole description, but he was able to reach the 16th hole with a 5-iron, and I was in the trees so he birdied that and went one ahead.
And on 17, I holed a 20-footer for a 2, and I couldn't reach 18 in two. From the fairway I couldn't reach it in two, so he won that hole 1-up.
But we went back. We had our wives there, and I was playing with Bob Murphy and Jay Sigel and my son David, and we went back to show our wives the 17th hole, which is, I think -- people probably -- well, everybody recognizes the hole. I don't know which is more recognizable, that one or the 7th at Pebble Beach.
But I went back and played the hole again, made another 2. So I made two 2s in the same day on the 17th, so I was quite proud of that.
Q. How long was the putt the second time?
SIR BOB CHARLES: That was a 10-footer straight uphill.
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, I've played a lot of Pete's golf courses, but my favorite golf course is Teeth of the Dog in la Romana in Dominican Republic. Pete gave me an opportunity to go to work at Casa de Campo in the winter of '73, summer of '74 after I had won the Women's Amateur. I didn't know what to do with myself, so of course I called Pete and said, Do you think you could find a job for me somewhere? So he found me a job at Casa de Campo, spent the winter there, played Teeth of the Dog every day, just loved the golf course. It beat me up every time I played it, but it was wonderful.
Then when I got married a few years later, we went there for our honeymoon. It's a terrific spot.
Q. Mr. Charles, why were you a great putter? What made you a great putter and what makes other great putters great putters?
SIR BOB CHARLES: I've never really analyzed or thought too much about it. No, even from a young age I was -- I guess I had pretty good eye-hand coordination, and I had a simple stroke. I was one of the first to come along prior to -- well, certainly prior to the '60s, you might say. Everybody used a very wristy stroke and I was probably the first one to come along with just the arm and shoulder, eliminate the hands and the wrists and just use the arms and shoulders in the putting stroke.
It's a part of the game I never practiced. The only thing I did do was play with friends and that around a putting green. I liked to go around the putting green but was never -- I guess I was fortunate in having a natural instinct for putting.
Well, as far as that goes, I have a natural instinct for most ball games. I was a pretty good tennis player, cricketer, snooker player, ping-pong, any ball game. I'm kind of infatuated with ball games.
Q. How did you learn to do the arms and shoulders when everyone was doing the wrists?
SIR BOB CHARLES: It was a natural instinct for me to putt that way. That was the way I started putting. If it had something to do with the grip, I don't know.
Q. And the greatest putt you ever made?
SIR BOB CHARLES: Well, I suppose --
Q. Besides the 2 yesterday (laughter).
SIR BOB CHARLES: After Phil Rodgers had holed out on the 72nd hole at Lytham & St. Anne's in '63, I was left with at least four and a half feet, I suppose, and I made that after Henry Longhurst nearly fell out of his chair, wherever he was watching, when Phil Rodgers -- well, I had about a 40-footer. On the 72nd hole in two, I was 40 feet and he was 15 feet, I suppose. So I putted up four and a half, five feet from the hole, and Phil Rodgers had this putt to win. It was a pretty miserable attempt, and so from 15 feet he left himself a two-footer, which actually hit the edge of the hole and went around and went in. So he grabs his cap and throws it on top of the hole, which of course Henry Longhurst who was watching a little bit of the television commentary, he had quite a lot to say about that.
So I was nonplussed by his actions and made the four-and-a-half-footer. So yes, it was a long answer to your short question.
Q. Carol, you remained a lifelong amateur. Why did you not turn pro? In this day and age with all the wealth that can be made, do you have any regrets? Would you do it differently?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: I have no regrets. I thought about turning professional when I graduated from college in 1970, but I really hadn't played college golf particularly. I played in the summers through my college years, but I went to my father and told him I was going to turn pro, and I thought he was going to have a fit right there, and he said, Don't do it, don't do it yet. I'll support you for a year.
So I went to Florida, played golf all winter and just came out the next summer, and my golf was even worse than I thought it could be. So I decided not to turn pro.
It took me a couple more years to pull my game together, then I finally won the Women's Amateur. But it took a lot of hypnosis, a lot of positive thinking, took a lot of mental work for me to start believing in my game. So I'm glad I never turned pro then.
And once I won the Amateur, won the British Amateur, played on the Curtis Cup team, there was no turning back. I loved all that amateur stuff. I loved representing my country in the Curtis Cup and the world matches.
Q. Pete, I know you had a friendship with Donald Ross when you were in the military and all, back in the Fort Bragg days and all. How did you end up in this line of work exactly?
PETE DYE: Well, a lot of people wish it hadn't happened that way (laughter).
Q. And there wasn't a long list of guys doing what you were doing back then.
PETE DYE: No. When I met Mr. Ross, I was only interested in maintenance of the golf course at that time. It was 1945, and he told me how he built golf courses around the country, and I was at that time -- the war was just over, and I was assigned to be the greenskeeper at the old Fort Bragg golf course, and they had sand greens. That's what all y'all forget about; they used to have sand greens all over the Carolinas.
And then when Ross told me how they put common Bermudagrass on Pinehurst No. 2 and they constantly kept top-dressing it because people were already used to putting on sand greens, and the common Bermudagrass is very tough. That's how they became crowned. He kept saying he was going to cut those crowns off, and he never did. He died in '48, and Mr. (Richard) Tufts, who owned Pinehurst, kept telling everybody that Mr. Ross wanted to cut those crowns off, and he never did, either.
So they made models of them and reproduced the greens, and everybody said that's a Donald Ross. But that's the most unlikely 18 greens of Mr. Ross he has in any of his books around the world.
But I had no idea of going into golf course design or building them at that stage. I was just interested in grass. I've killed a lot of grass (laughter).
Q. We found out what sir Bob's and Carol's most memorable round of golf was on your golf courses. What's yours, because I know you've played them?
PETE DYE: Well, I can go back with Carol. Somebody asked about different golf courses that are memorable, and I always go back to the Dominican Republic because that's the Teeth of the Dog. I went down there and there wasn't a paved road within 35 miles. If I live long enough, I've got nine more holes to complete down there and I'll have 90 holes, and there's 50,000 people that have jobs. The way things are going right now, it looks like they're doing okay down there as far as employment.
Q. Carol, I wonder if you -- you said you have no regrets at this point, but did you make the decision relatively early and then stick with that, or was there ever a time when you got into your 20s or maybe even your 30s where you were still competitive that you almost pulled the trigger? Or once you made a decision, was that it?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: That was pretty much it. I just loved my amateur career through my 20s and 30s and 40s and 50s. I just loved progressing through the age tournaments into the mid-amateur and the senior. I just never really had any second thoughts. I've just always had a wonderful life.
Q. As a follow-up, Pete is married to a lady who was a very, very good amateur golfer and probably still is. How much golf have you played with Alice, and how much of a thrill has that been, or has she gotten you sometimes?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Oh, she's gotten me. I've played a lot of golf with Alice. We've been great friends. She's been like a -- she's not old enough to be a second mother to me, but she's been like a second mother to me. She's just been great, and both Pete and Alice have been great friends of my family and of mine.
But Alice was a wonderful player. She was a long hitter in her prime. She was longer than I was when I was in my early 20s. She was longer and had all that experience behind her. So I learned a lot from her.
PETE DYE: So did I (laughter).
Q. Pete, what's the nicest compliment that was ever paid to you in your work?
PETE DYE: Still coming. Hasn't gotten here yet.
Q. What's been the nastiest remark you've ever heard about your work?
PETE DYE: Oh, I've got a million of them. I'm the only person in the world to build a golf course and have all the PGA professionals, touring professionals, condemn the golf course. That's kind of a sad day when that happens to you. I had it happen twice. I hope it doesn't -- maybe I might be over the hump.
Q. What was the second time, Sawgrass and what?
PETE DYE: I built a golf course in the desert, Palm Springs, PGA West, and I'll admit -- they didn't play that golf course on the greatest day. It was kind of cool, but it wasn't that cold. The pros came out, Roger Maltbie, I remember -- he's a friend now, but they came out and they said, We're never coming back here again, and they never did go back.
But the main thing that happened out there, it was kind of surprising, the club professionals had their -- PGA had their Club Professional National Championship, and they voted to go back year after year after year to play it there, and finally the owner said, We've had enough of you guys, we're losing money, and they're the ones that stopped it. But the club professionals got along okay out there. But the touring pros, that was a bad day.
Q. They still go there for Q-school, though.
PETE DYE: Q-school, I haven't had any compliments about that lately (laughter). But they're out there playing.
I'll tell you, golf is an amazing game, and you'll understand how golf professionals think about the golf course, but the PGA Stadium course still gets the most play of any course in the desert out there. I don't know why, but they do. It's a hard course.
Q. Bob, it took 40 years for another left-hander to win a major out there. And now, of course, there's six or seven good left-handed players on the PGA TOUR. Has there been that much of a stigma about playing? You always hear about club pros turning guys around; Johnny Miller got turned around by his pro; Hogan was a natural left-hander. Why do you think there was that long period of time where pros seemed to want to turn a kid around who showed a tendency to want to swing from the left side?
SIR BOB CHARLES: Not an easy question to answer. Certainly initially the availability of equipment, I think, had a lot to do with it. Certainly the selection of golf clubs for right-handers was far greater than left-handed golfers. That enters into the equation.
And you just in a way touched on it, that natural left-handers were probably not encouraged to play that way that would govern a pro shop. Somebody starting out in the game would be looking for a set of clubs, go into a pro shop, not available, don't carry them, which was understandable because the percentage of left- to right-handers is so low. So it was uneconomical for a club pro to stock left-handed equipment.
So there was a lot of factors involved there. But it's good to see that now things have changed to the point where most of the manufacturers -- I certainly know Titleist, of course Wally Uihlein, he's a left-handed golfer, so he makes sure as soon as there's a new right-handed model, the left-handed model is there the next day, rather than 6, 12 months down the track.
So as a result of -- well, that, and there's more left-handers out there, and of course it's only a matter of time before -- well, you've got two more left-handers who have won majors, and there will be more coming along, I'm sure.
Q. Mr. Charles, as you were starting out in your golfing career, who had the greatest influence on your game?
SIR BOB CHARLES: Probably Ben Hogan.
Q. Why was that?
SIR BOB CHARLES: In my display next door is his book, "How I Golf," by Ben Hogan. I acquired that in 1953 or '4, and I don't think I've ever read it. But what I did do is look at the pictures (laughter). To me, even to this day, I still think he has the greatest golf swing I ever saw.
And of course not only that, but in my opinion, and Pete played a lot more golf with Ben than what I did and would probably concur, he was probably the best ball-striker of a golf ball that I ever saw.
So what I did with his book was I used to go into my parents' bedroom where they had a dresser with a great big mirror above the dresser, and I'd put the book down and I'd look at his swing, and I would try and duplicate the positions with the straight -- well, let's see. His left arm was straight and my right arm is straight going back. So yeah, I would say Ben Hogan did.
Q. Did you speak much to him?
SIR BOB CHARLES: I played with him on three occasions.
Q. What irons were you using? Were they Hogan irons?
SIR BOB CHARLES: No.
Q. Carol, seven USGA titles, and I'm sure you've been asked this before, but is there one that stands out more than the others? And another part of the question, was it easier to win the first or easier to win the second?
CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: Well, I think probably the one that would stand out was the first one, the U.S. Women's Amateur. My mother was quite ill all summer and was not able to come to watch that, but my father made it to the finals a little bit late during the day, so I was concerned about him. But when he got there, then I was able to concentrate. Then he was vice president of the USGA and was able to present the trophy to me because the president had stepped aside.
But the second championship was pretty hard to win because it was the Women's Mid-Amateur played at my home club in 1990. My father had died six months previously, so my golf has always been tied up with my family, with my parents. So that was very meaningful to win that when he wasn't there.
Q. Bob, maybe I missed this part, but did you explain how you ended up playing left-handed as a natural right-hander given that there were no clubs and all that? Did I miss that part?
SIR BOB CHARLES: If you've got the time, I've got the time (laughter).
When I pick something up with two hands, I go like this (indicating left hand lower than right), rifle, pool cue, axe, spade. I can't go this way. I've got to go this way. Are you with me?
SIR BOB CHARLES: Ice hockey, if I played ice hockey, left hand below the right, and I've noticed that a majority of ice hockey players shoot with the left hand below the right. I'm not a big fan, so I don't know for sure.
So cricket, baseball -- I've never played baseball, but I put the left hand below the right. So that's just a natural instinctive move on my part.
JACK PETER: I'd like to thank everybody for being here this afternoon. I do want to call your attention to the inductee exhibits which are on my left and right and spend a little time taking a look at the artifacts and memorabilia that have been donated or loaned to the museum. Thank you all for being here, and we look forward to seeing you tonight at 6:00. Thank you.
End of FastScripts