Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Crenshaw swallowed hard as It’s a treasured memory

Ten years after Wind’s death, the players in this year’s field know the holes that form Amen Corner, but few can identify the man behind the moniker. Crenshaw is one. Another is Phil Mickelson, who learned four years after winning the first of his three Masters titles in 2004 that Amen Corner was not Arnold Palmer’s invention. An informal poll of two dozen players resulted in 23 blank looks and one confident answer of Hogan.
Hogan was not a bad guess. The bridge used by the players to cross Rae’s Creek to the par-3 12th green is named after Hogan, who won two Masters.
Palmer was another good assumption. His final-round eagle on No. 13 in 1958 helped him secure the first of his four Masters titles and inspired Wind to conjure a special name for the critical juncture in that year’s tournament in an article in Sports Illustrated.
The widely held belief is that Amen Corner has sacred roots. It made sense to the Australian Jason Day, who said, “You pray to get around it without running into disaster.” Day’s countryman Adam Scott, the 2013 champion, chipped in, “Otherwise it can be the Blasphemous Corner.”
Wind’s inspiration, though, came from a 1930s jazz recording, “Shouting in the Amen Corner.” In an article for Golf Digest in 1984, he said that he was aiming for “some colorful tag like those that Grantland Rice and his contemporaries loved to devise: the Four Horsemen, the Manassa Mauler, the House That Ruth Built and the Georgia Peach.”
“The only phrase with the word corner I could think of (outside of football’s ‘coffin corner’ and baseball’s ‘hot corner’) was the title of a song on an old Bluebird record,” Wind wrote.
He used “Amen Corner” all of six times in the next 31 years, according to an online search of The New Yorker’s archives. Wind’s nephew, Bill Scheft, a staff writer on “Late Show With David Letterman,” was not surprised.
“Herb was like a comic who comes up with a bit and delivers it to an audience once,” Scheft said. “It was nothing he was going to repeat because he was always striving for better bits.”
Wind was once approached by two young writers asking about the origins of Amen Corner.
“I found it exceedingly awkward to tell them that I thought that I had given that famous stretch of course its appellation,” he wrote in Golf Digest.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Beautiful Smile may Hide an Engaging Secret, Great Joy, or a Good Deal of Pain

I was born, to a Hispanic mother and Anglo father in Albuquerque New Mexico. I grew up in Albuquerque when it was a smaller, more magical place. The easy mix of the Spanish, Mexican, Pueblo and Anglo cultures and peoples, made for a rich world to experience. Legends, stories and myths abounded with madmen, ghosts, shamans and spirits; all wrapped in a pervasive Catholicism. It was, and is, wonderful.

I enjoyed the freedom afforded young adventurous boys in the relative safety of the time and place. That childhood reinforced the confident optimism and high level of energy that have been with me all my life.

I attended schools in Albuquerque. Public school for first and second grade and then catholic schools all the way through high school. In high school I won the New Mexico State Science Fair competition in Mathematics, which allowed me to attend New Mexico State University with a tuition scholarship.

After a very rough first semester at State, I figured college out and became a very enthusiastic math student. I graduated, completing the University Honors program as a requirement of my scholarship. This program was central to my continuing growth and learning as it introduced me to so much I would not have elected. I was exposed to art, literature, history, philosophy and the beginnings of my interest in ancient classics. Most importantly, I became a reader.

After a brief time in Graduate School (Mathematics) I went to work for New Mexico State Government, Albuquerque City Government, became an IT consultant, and worked for a series of technology companies building software and systems for utility, computing and telecommunications companies. I enjoyed some success and in the late 90’s became a technology entrepreneur. My technology career has taken me to many places. Currently, I am involved in three technology companies based in Mexico.

I travel frequently to Colorado spending time with my four children and two grandchildren, who have been and remain the foundation and driving purpose for my life. I have another, far off group of children who are important to my life. They are now young adults who I met as very young orphans in Vietnam, about thirty of them. I helped to take care of them for a time, and have tried to stay in touch as they have grown and moved on. They are always in my thoughts.

I do most of my writing at sidewalk cafes on the streets of Mexico City, on balconies in Old Havana Cuba, on shaded terrace in San Miguel de Allende Mexico, and while visiting NYC. I get back to New Mexico whenever I can. I miss the people there and the food. I miss the cool nights and the crisp mornings. I miss hiking up the 10,500 feet of the Sandia Crest on the east edge of Albuquerque, then sitting at the top to watch one of the world’s greatest sunsets.