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instrumental in resolving the substandard maintenance issues at Harding Park, a vital step in the course remaining a viable site for events operated by the PGA Tour. He was also a key figure behind the scenes in the ongoing and so far successful effort to save Sharp Park. He has lent his support to Youth On Course, an NCGA Foun- dation initiative in which donations buy tee times from courses that translate into $5 or less green fees for kids 18 and under, a program Tatum is lobbying to go national. He was also the prime mover in the establishment of The First Tee of San Francisco at Visitacion Valley Middle School, a particularly fond accomplishment. “Some of these kids come


from a world that can be legitimately characterized as awful,” Tatum says of the neighborhood where both the dropout and murder rate are tragically high. “But to see them light up and be transformed by the values and structure and enjoyment that our game offers has been the ultimate affirmation of what I’ve long believed. If I had one piece of advice for young people, it would be to make a careful evaluation of the circumstances in which they find themselves, and locate in that setting whatever they can possibly locate that gives them a positive attitude about the life they have to live.” Tatum fervently believes


that golf is at least as good as anything man has ever in- vented for providing a path to positivity. “Golf is anything but trivial,” he once said. “As the problems in the world become more terrible, this game is more important—on a sociological basis—than it has ever been. It’s a life enhancer and a life extender.


46 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2010


There’s no question about that. It has everything that you can add from a game to somebody’s life.” Such conviction is what made a man whose circum- stances fit the portrait of an elitist, perhaps the game’s most important egalitarian. Tatum played in the San Francisco City Champion- ship for more than 40 years, reveling in the clover-dotted fairways and mud-caked greens that made the tourna- ment the ultimate conver- gence of golf proletariat. It’s the basis for his dream that The City-venerated pub- lic golf “parks”—Harding, Lincoln and Sharp—return to the prominence they once held in the community. If there is anyone who


can actually give hope to such an improbability, it is Tatum. Advanced age has only enhanced the bearing that continues to make him a formidable presence when the powerful convene, and when Tatum unfurls the ver- bal chops appropriate to an extrovert of Welsh and Irish ancestry, the results remain dazzling. It was Tatum who first called Cypress Point “the Sistine Chapel of golf,” and Tatum who in 1974 handed anyone who has ever set up a major championship course since the ultimate walk away line: “Our objective is not to humiliate the best players in the game, but simply to identify who they are.” When in the late 1990s he decided to turn his attention to San Francisco public golf, he had to use all his gifts to convince perhaps the most politically fractious city in the nation that golf matters. “People responded to


Sandy,” said then San Fran- cisco deputy city attorney Michael Cohen during the battle over the fate of Harding in 2004. “At public hearings, which can be so


contentious, people would listen to Sandy’s presenta- tion and stand up and cheer. Because of the dignity with which he conducted himself, and because he had no vested interest in the project, they intuitively trusted him. It was an example of public service on the highest level. He is an uncommon man from an era you hope desperately is not gone forever.” For all his public accom- plishments, Tatum is most proud of his marriage to Barbara, and their six chil- dren and 11 grandchildren, saying, “they’ve all given me a marvelous fundamental base for living.” His greatest influence was


his father, Frank D. Tatum Sr., a successful Los Angeles real estate broker who, says his youngest son, “left me his legacy of a love affair with the game.” The elder Tatum was also determined not to have a namesake, and had evaded as much with his first three children. But when his last child was born, he found that his wife Terese had done some advance work on the birth certificate, christening the boy Frank D. Tatum Jr. But Senior got the out he needed when a family friend, Los Angeles Examiner golf writer Scotty Chisholm, sent a telegram to the hospital jokingly hailing the birth of “Sandy MacNib- lick Tatum.” It has been “Sandy” ever since. Outside the family,


Tatum’s most important role model was Bobby Jones. He fondly remembers packing his clubs as he bicycled to junior high school and stash- ing them in some bushes so that when school ended he would gather them and head to Wilshire CC. There in the Los Angeles gloaming Tatum would often play two balls, one designated to Jones and the other to Walter Hagen.


Somehow, Jones always man- aged to win. Of all golfers, Tatum has


been closest to Tom Wat- son, who he first met when Watson was a freshman at Stanford in 1968. “Tom’s qualities have made our friendship very special,” says Tatum, who for two decades was Watson’s regular partner at the AT&T. “Our time together has included the full spectrum of his years as a golfer. There were the glory days, when Tom in a con- centrated period in the late 70s and early 80s dominated the game as few have done, followed by the difficult times, when he did not win a tournament for nine years. I saw him in all those phases, and the way he handled it all was an inspiration. I felt I got to know Watson’s game so well that when he hit a shot, I could vicariously relate to it like I was there with him. Tom is aware that I feel that way, so after Turnberry last year, I wrote him a note that said, “I never realized that we might be able to win the British Open at age 60.” Tatum took particular


pleasure in Watson’s only U.S. Open victory in 1982 at Pebble Beach. Those and other memories danced in his head when he returned to the course for its fifth Open this year. Tatum was integral to the first time Pebble held the Open in 1972, when he was asked before that championship by the Del Monte Properties Company to update the course. Tatum first found one of Pebble’s original architects, Jack Neville, who was living in obscurity in Pacific Grove, and the two worked together on some major changes. “The course needed a lot


to challenge the best play- ers, and we did a lot,” said Tatum, who added length to the course along with more


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