4 Walter Hagen
‘Sir’ Walter Hagen is the subject of so many apocryphal tales that it is no surprise to find he is credited with inventing many of the most basic gamesmanship techniques.
The first is the dubious practice of giving match play opponents generous gimmies early in the round then making them putt everything late in the game. The idea is to starve them of practice, but dangerously assumes there is a ‘late in the game’ to worry about.
Another ‘Hagen’ classic is to let your opponent see you taking practice swings with the wrong club. An example occurred in the 1925 PGA against Al Waltrous. Tied coming down the last, a long par-five with water fronting the green, Waltrous looks over to see ‘The Haig’ practice swinging with a wood. Waltrous decides he has to go for it but splashes down some way short. Needless to say, Hagen then takes the iron layup he always intended and wins with a routine par.
The Hagen story that rings most true is his reported antics when supposedly in trouble in the trees. He was known to wander around looking agitated and checking right-angle routes back to the fairway. He would then produce a “miracle” shot knocking it stone dead on the green, destroying his opponent’s morale. Afterwards he would smile and confess there was a gap wide enough to drive “two Mack trucks through.”
Click here to see the published article.