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“He was so impressive,”

said Tatum, leaning closer so that his always decorous vocabulary and syntax carried even more authority. “When it was Hogan’s turn to play, it was on the basis that he had been accorded the privilege of playing that particular golf shot. And that privilege carried with it a responsibility. And that responsibility was to give that golf shot all of the thought and effort that he could, and to make it as effective as he could. It was a very distinct characteristic.”

With that Tatum took out a 3-wood, peered at the distant target and began his swing, which since the Great Depression has included a peculiar pause at the top that caused Hogan to once offer, “You know, Sandy, you could hit it a fair piece if you didn’t stop and visit on the way down.” He hit a solid burner that buzzed into the wind and bounced along the humpy lay of the land with clear purpose. As the ball rolled, Tatum’s gaze remained fixed in a way that evoked the same very distinct character-



Recently I had the great pleasure of sharing a round at Cypress Point Club with Sandy Tatum. Walking toward our drives on the par-4 13th hole, the conversation turned to the half dozen times he played with Ben Hogan.

istic he had just described. The only difference was that when his ball made the front of the green, Tatum smiled broadly and let out a very un- Hogan-like “OK!” The moment reflected the engagement and enjoyment with which Tatum has lived his entire long and happy life. His zest has been behind his many laurels, includ- ing 1942 NCAA individual champion as a member of the Stanford golf team, Rhodes Scholar, USGA President, published golf historian, and most recently and for him most gratifyingly, guardian of public golf in San Francisco and points beyond. Though a native of Los Angeles, it is as a Northern Californian of more than 60 years that Tatum has made his most indelible mark. Frank D. Tatum Jr. turned

90 on July 10. He retains a moderate practice with a prominent San Francisco law firm, and lives with his wife of 61 years, Barbara, in a re- tirement facility in Palo Alto. He still plays twice a week or so, mostly at San Fran- cisco Golf Club and Cypress Point, shooting his age as he routinely has since scoring 71 at Cypress when he was 72. Any wistfulness about the passing years is overpowered

Tatum at Stanford

by practical optimism. “It adds up to this,” he

says. “You no longer are able to do a lot of the things that made life so very satisfying through the years. So what you have to do is be able to accommodate those stages so that you don’t lose the es- sence of what you have left in your life.” To that end, more than

ever, golf has been his guide. “I find the challenge of

trying to play a decent round of golf totally compelling, even as it gets more difficult,” says Tatum. “My mantra going all through my life was ‘Go for it.’ But it’s changed. Now it’s ‘Keep swinging.’ And that is what I’m doing. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. I wake up in the morn- ing and think to myself, “Hot damn, I’ve got yet another.” To the surprise of no one,

Tatum has remained a dy- namo. This year he has been

SUMMER 2010 / NCGA.ORG / 45


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