“Quiet Bob Greenwood Hones ‘Loud’ Game” (1961)

Transcription of the Article:


On the putting green in front of the clubhouse at the Augusta National golf course last April, Bobby Jones leaned toward a microphone used during presentation ceremonies at the conclusion of the Masters Tournament.

“Jack Nicklaus”, Jones began, “is the most promising young golfer in the country. He will win this tournament and many other major championships before he’s through”. Jones then presented Nicklaus his award as second low amateur in the Masters which was won by Gary Player after Arnold Palmer’s bladed sand shot at the 72nd hole.

In June, the husky Nicklaus was low amateur in the National Open, finishing three strokes back of the winner, professional Gene Little, with a total of 284 shots.

LAST WEEK IN the first round of the Memphis Colonial Invitation, Nicklaus rammed home a 40-foot putt for a birdie on the 17th hole. The 3 put him 1-up and sighs of “That’s it” whispered through the gallery. But the one man most involved, Sparta’s Bobby Greenwood, didn’t hear the whispers, or if he did, they made no impression.

Minutes after Nicklaus had made his birdie, Greenwood smashed a 245-yard three-wood shot four feet from the pin on the par 5 finishing hole. He made the down-hill, breaking putt for an eagle 3 and forced the match into sudden death. On the first extra hole, Greenwood made a birdie, and Nicklaus was sidelined in the first match of his bid to repeat as Colonial champion.

Less than 24 hours after scoring this upset, Greenwood left the Colonial course a 2 and 1 winner over Signal Mountain’s Ed Brantly. Ed has a string of area, regional and national golfing accomplishments including the honor of finishing as third low amateur in the 1961 National Open at Birmingham, Mich.

WHERE DOES ALL this leave Greenwood?

Well, yesterday it left him on the practice tee at the Sparta Country Club where he’s polishing his game for Tuesday’s National Amateur Trials at Belle Meade. It’ll be Bobby’s final tournament bid before returning to his studies at North Texas State College where he’ll be a junior this fall.

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Not Conceited, Just Misunderstood

A nerveless, 22-year-old blond, Greenwood is perhaps the most misunderstood golfer in these parts according to Hubert Smith, professional at the Sparta Country Club.

“Extremely quiet, Bobby’s aloofness has been interpreted as snobbishness by many,” Smith commented yesterday while discussing Greenwood’s golf game and personality. “Nothing could be further from the truth. He is unusually modest. He is devoted to improving his game and nobody works harder or is more determined to succeed.”

Many people misunderstand Bobby’s quietness. He gives you a lot of one word answers and some folks figure this conceit or that he has a chip on his shoulder. In reality, he’s strictly first-class. For instance, few people know he doesn’t smoke or drink or gamble on a golf course. Those certainly are admirable characteristics.

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Always Remains Calm and Cool

“From an absolute golfing standpoint, the No. 1 feature of his game is the fact the he seldom has the ball out of play. This year he’s lengthened his back-swing and is getting 15 or 20 more yards off the tee.

He has always been a fine putter. The additional length has been a big factor in his success on the various championship courses he’s played this summer.

“Psychologically, nothing seems to disturb Greenwood. I’ve seen him scramble for 12 or 15 holes, missing almost every shot, before finally settling down. But, there’s never any show of temper or emotion. The putt Nicklaus made to go one up on him would have finished me. It didn’t faze Bobby one bit.”

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Practice Makes Perfect

Greenwood has been playing golf for 10 years. He started in Cookeville and still plays and lives there although he registers from Sparta. Until this season, Bobby was perhaps the most tournament-active player in the area. Now, he’s elected to spend his time practicing during the week, concentrating on fewer, larger tournaments.

“I’ve practiced more this summer than ever before,” Greenwood said in discussing his new tactics. “I may have practiced too much, because I know a man has to play some, too, if he is to realize the full benefits of practice. There is a happy medium, however. In 1959 I played in 22 tournaments and last summer I played in 18. That’s too much playing. This year I’ve played in about a half-dozen.”

If Greenwood doesn’t smoke, what does he do to lighten the tension during a round?

“Well, I think about the next shot or maybe even say a little prayer before I hit the ball,” Greenwood said. “As a matter of fact, I guess I leave home with a little advantage. The last thing I hear going out of the house is my grandmother (Mrs. Viola Greenwood):

“I’ll say a little prayer for you, Bobby.”

(Sports Editor Raymond Johnson is on vacation.)

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Transcribed by Elma Greenwood, Cookeville, Tennessee, August 17, 2004.


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