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For me, golf has been a kind of passport to relaxation and happiness. Crosby started an annual golf get-together for pros and entertainer friends that came to be known as the Crosby Clambake. A television staple starting in , it would serve as the template for all the celebrity pro-ams that followed. His last words: "That was a great game of golf, fellas. Joe DiMaggio ' In , three years after playing his final season with the Yankees and a few months after beginning his day marriage to Marilyn Monroe, The Yankee Clipper told New York sportswriter Jimmy Cannon that from now on, golf was his game.
Amelia Earhart In , the fearless, famed aviator, first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, friend of the stars, feminist icon and golfer, moved with husband and frequent golf partner, the flamboyant publishing magnate George Putnam, into a house abutting Lakeside Golf Club. Two years later, in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe solo, she vanished without a trace, somewhere over the Pacific.
Clint Eastwood As a year-old serviceman at Fort Ord in Monterey, Calif. But to celebrate a friend's return from the Korean War, the pair played their first-ever round at Pebble Beach.
The five-time Academy Award-winner turns 80 this year and still plays often at Tehama, the course he owns in Carmel, Calif. The former five-star U. Army general was far and away the most avid of America's golfing presidents. During his two terms, from '61, Golf Digest reported that he had more than 1, days of golf or practice, including almost rounds. He didn't start playing seriously until he was in his 40s.
An old West Point football injury to his left knee inhibited his backswing. And he was an erratic putter. But Ike wasn't a bad golfer, and he managed plenty of decent scores. Eisenhower first visited Augusta in and became a member and a close friend of club co-founder and chairman Clifford Roberts. The Eisenhower Cabin, by the 10th fairway, became a home away from home. Ike had so many tussles with the tree to the left of the 17th hole that he unsuccessfully lobbied to have it cut down.
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A golfer to the end, Ike made his only hole-in-one at the age of 77, the year before he died. William Faulkner Before he became a literary genius, Faulkner had an aimless youth, much of which was spent playing golf. As a year-old, according to one biography, he was "known to drink heavily, write verse, and waste large amounts of time on the local golf courses.
Working in the local post office from '24, Faulkner would often take off for afternoons of golf; on weekends he would drive 45 miles to Charleston, where better courses awaited. Later, he got a job selling drinks from a stand on the course. His best-known work, The Sound and the Fury -- one of the finest American novels of the 20th century -- opens with a stream-of-consciousness passage that takes place beside a golf course.
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The opening line: "Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. Fields The misanthropic comedian, actor and writer lived next to Lakeside Golf Club, where he regularly broke 90 playing with his pal Oliver Hardy, drank heavily and provided entertainment for members by chasing ducks off his lawn in his pajamas. Golf featured in many of his movies.
In a Golf Digest article, Lester A. Weinrott recalled his "martini round with W. Fields" in "The first six holes are a phantasmagoria in my memory. I remember much laughter at what Mr. Fields said and did. I remember with what artistry he juggled two, three, then four golf balls. I recall that he did wonderful tricks with a golf club.
I remember that he won all the side bets. Mostly I remember many refills from one of the martini bottles.
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I had the remaining good sense to pour mine, or most of mine, onto the grass. Clark Gable ' The one-time King of Hollywood, best known for his portrayal of Rhett Butler in "Gone with the Wind," started playing golf as a struggling actor on the public courses around Los Angeles. After active service with the U. His regular caddie at Bel-Air was Robert Wagner, who one day confessed his desire to be in the movies; Gable introduced him to the head of talent at his studio, MGM. Later, Gable bought a home with fifth wife and golf partner, Kay Spreckels, in Palm Springs, beside Bermuda Dunes Country Club, where during one round he suffered one of a series of heart attacks that would kill him.
In the fall of , on his way to make his penultimate film, "It Started in Naples," with Sophia Loren, he spent three weeks at the famous Villa d'Este hotel near Italy's Lake Como -- and he played every day. Bill Gates The co-founder of Microsoft and richest man in the world, according to Forbes, has since belonged to Augusta National Golf Club, where he plays with close friend Warren Buffett, the second-richest man in the world.
Gates took up the game in the early s and was featured in ads for Callaway's Big Bertha driver in In , he told Golf Digest that he was improving rapidly. Gates broke 90 that day for maybe the fifth time. Billy Graham When he wasn't proselytizing -- and sometimes when he was -- the preacher man was on the golf course.
Graham started out playing cross-handed left hand below right , but once he switched to a conventional grip he became a decent player who often shot in the 70s. He has been a spiritual adviser and golf buddy to many leading lights and power brokers, including presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford. He played with John F. Kennedy at Seminole in January , right before JFK's inauguration, and he was playing golf in North Carolina when he heard the news that his friend had been shot.
Wayne Gretzky Nicknamed The Great One while becoming the greatest ever hockey player, the handicapper would never use the word great to describe his golf ability. Gretzky, who caddied in his youth, wishes that he'd learned to play golf the way he played hockey -- left-handed. Then I find out he does everything righty except play golf.
Oliver Hardy The man they called Babe first encountered the game in , introduced to it by fellow comic actor Larry Semon. Hardy, born just outside Augusta, Ga. Fields and with Bing Crosby -- they would sing duets as they strolled down the fairways. Hardy's comic sidekick, Stan Laurel, was a casual golfer; Hardy was avid, always eager to wrap things up at the studio so he could squeeze in at least nine. On the road, he always tried to find a game, playing at Gleneagles, for example, in plaid suspenders and tartan socks when touring with Laurel in Britain in Jean Harlow ' The original platinum blonde played regularly at the default Hollywood golf club of the era, Lakeside, often taking lessons from tour pro and back-to-back PGA winner Leo Diegel.
During the shooting of the movie "Riffraff," Harlow complained of back pain; the MGM studio doctor told her it was a muscle strain from too much golf. It was, however, symptomatic of the kidney failure that would soon kill the star, at Rita Hayworth ' Throughout her movie career, the screen goddess frequented the courses and driving ranges of Los Angeles.
She was a longtime member at Riviera and would often work on her short game at the par-3 Armand Hammer course. In , she took a monthlong golf trip to Scotland with fifth husband, golf pal and film producer James Hill, and, one foggy and rainy day, she birdied the 18th at Gleneagles, in front of a crowd of , for a round of 87 -- the first time she ever broke In retirement, Hayworth moved to Palm Springs and played a lot of golf, becoming a regular at the Nabisco Dinah Shore each spring.
Katharine Hepburn The four-time Oscar winner started playing golf at age 5 during summers spent at the family retreat at Fenwick in Old Saybrook, in her native Connecticut, where there was a nine-hole course it's still there.
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Hepburn would live in Fenwick on and off for the rest of her life. Home-schooled as a teenager, Hepburn would take daily golf lessons. And I was quite accurate with my irons. The only thing I just was lousy at was putting. Oh dear.