Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


Email Patrick.

A caddie's choice in 1965: Tony Lema over Jack

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: August 3, 2014 - 12:48 PM

There was a column last Thursday on Mark Kinderwater and his experience as a novice caddie for Jack Nicklaus in the 1965 St. Paul Open. There was a player draft for potential young caddies based on their selling of tournament tickets.

Kinderwater had the third choice and wound up with Nicklaus after Arnold Palmer went first and Tony Lema went second. This brought up a question: Who took Lema over Nicklaus, who already had four majors at 25?

I received an e-mail from Cal Simmons, an acquaintance and a good local player, confessing that he was the ticket-selling caddie who went for Lema. That wasn’t really a surprise, since Tony had earned the nickname “Champagne Tony’’ and was considered to be the game’s reigning character.

Lema was a British Open champion, having won at St. Andrews in 1964. He died in a plane crash along with his wife and two others after flying from the PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club in 1966.

I asked Cal a few questions about his experiences caddying as a teenager for Lema and other touring pros in those days and here was his response:

“I was 16 as a caddie for Lema. I caddied in four St Paul Opens and one Minnesota Golf Classic, which was the follow to the St Paul Open.

“I was a caddie at the Wayzata Country Club.  Keller was a long trip in the early ‘60s, with no 394, 94 or improved Hwy. 36.  There were few caddies that wanted to make the long drive (or find someone to drive them), over to St Paul. For me, it was the thrill of my summer to caddie for tour players.

“At the time Arnold Palmer was the only person to be traveling with a caddie, Creme Caroline.  Creme was a character.  The St Paul Jaycees did not allow him to caddie, which he took in stride.

“There was a lot of media attention to the big names coming to St Paul that year.  When I learned that I was the No. 2 season-ticket seller, which was on Monday of the tournament, I had a tough decision: Tony Lema or Jack Nicklaus?

“I decided on Lema because he was the British Open champion and because he had a much bigger personality than the young Jack Nicklaus.  Certainly if I had won the selling contest I would have taken Arnold.


“Lema played OK but not great.  I distinctly remember shagging balls for him.  In those days every player had a shag bag of golf balls.  At Keller, the practice area was on the east side of the first hole.  Caddies would stand out in the range and pick up the balls as the player hit them. It was like being on a shooting range with guys with bad aim.

“With Tony Lema, there was no running to get the balls he hit, just stand next to the shag bag and pick them up as they rolled to the bag.  I remember he would hit 4-woods and drivers and I would take a step left or right, catch the ball on the bounce and drop it back into the bag.

“One day I was in the locker room when Nicklaus was there and had received some new Foot Joy shoes.  He took each shoe, bent each one backwards and sat on them to loosen them up – an oddity that a kid remembers when around the big guys.

“Champagne Tony was also popular at the time for the ‘Lema Rain Hat,’ which was no more than a common bucket hat that we know today.  I remember one of the first things I did after meeting him was digging around in his bag to find that rain hat.  It was kind of gray in color and all wrinkled up.  He used it later that week during a brief rain.

“I also remember his wife, who also died in the plane crash less that a year later.  To a kid of 16, she was a bombshell.  Red hair, beautiful.

“I was always one of the top sellers.  As a result I had great players to carry for.  British Open champion, Kel Nagel, Doug Sanders at his peak, and Billy Casper, who sadly withdrew from the tournament where was going to be his caddie.

“A great way to spend a week in the summer … caddying at the St. Paul Open.’’

--CAL

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:07 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
New York 6:30 PM
Toronto
San Antonio 7:00 PM
Houston
Miami 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Chicago
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Utah
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Colorado
Carolina 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Houston 7:00 PM
Chicago
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT