Book Review: Buried Lies: True Tales and Tall Stories from the PGA Tour

by Roy M. Barineau, Ph. D. on July 26, 2011

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Book Review: Buried Lies: True Tales and Tall Stories from the PGA Tour

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Peter Jacobsen with Jack Sheehan, Buried Lies: True Tales and Tall Stories from the PGA Tour, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993.

Readers can hear the voice of Peter Jacobsen as they turn the pages. Jacobsen tells stories about his very adept, golfing family. At one point, the combined handicap of the six-member family in which Jacobsen grew up was twenty-seven. Jacobsen relates his experiences at Saint Andrews, he shares about times he spent with Arnold Palmer, and he informs readers about how he became an impressionist of various golfers. Jacobsen recounts his adventures with celebrities (including Bill Murray and Michael Jordan), he relates stories with his caddy, Mike Cowan, and he writes about experiences with the PGA Tour Policy Board. Jacobsen tells readers about his experiences in broadcasting, he relates stories about various golfers he has known, and he shares the sad story of his brother, Paul, who died from AIDS.

Perhaps the funniest story stems from Jacobsen’s experience with Jack Lemmon during the Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur (the Crosby Clambake, known today as the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Amateur). Jack Lemmon, also referred to as the Human Hinge, and Jacobsen were playing with Greg Norman and Clint Eastwood at Cypress Point, one of the courses in the tournament’s rotation. Jack Nicklaus, Dee Keaton, Hale Irwin, and President Ford were playing in the foursome in front of them, and on the eleventh tee, there was a long delay in play. Lemmon strolled off in the direction of a Porta Potty. Jacobsen writes, “Greg and Clint and I all looked at one another, and I made a throwing motion. My companions enthusiastically nodded.” With a crowd looking on, the three of them “crept up to the crapper, which was constructed from hard plastic,” wound up with their “best Nolon Ryan” imitations, and threw their golf balls at the “can” as hard as they could.” “Bang! Bang! Bang! It sounded like three pistol shots.” Jacobsen writes that he would not have been surprised to see President Ford’s Secret Service agents draw their weapons. Instead, though, Jacobsen writes, “there was dead silence, and the next thing we saw was a sweet little lady, who’d peeked her head out the door and asked, ‘Is it safe to come out now?’ She looked like she’d seen a ghost.” At that point, “Lemmon walked around from the behind the can where he’d been standing [and] talking to a friend, and said, ‘What the hell are you guys doing?’”

When the group reached the 215-yard, par-three sixteenth, the wind was so strongly into the foursome’s face that no one went for the green. The Human Hinge, Lemmon, hit a terrible shot that nearly went over the edge of the cliff on the left. Somehow the ball got hung up in the ice plant. “It was a mere sixty-foot drop-off to the rocks and crashing surf below.” Eastwood egged the Hinge on to hit the shot. As he crept toward the ball, Jacobsen relates, Eastwood “instinctively grabbed Jack [Lemmon] by the belt and back of his pants. Jacobsen grabbed Eastwood’s arm, Norman grabbed Jacobsen’s arm, and Norman’s caddy grabbed Norman’s arm. Instantly, they “had formed a human chain of safety.” Though the group broke “about six rules of golf,” the Hinge was safe, and he managed to chop the ball out into the fairway. The human chain, with each link laughing hysterically, crawled back up the hill to safer terrain. “The crowd,” Jacobsen reports, “gave Jack a huge ovation.” Lemmon pumped his fist in the air, and the group give him “high-fives like he’d just won an Olympic gold medal.” The Hinge prepared to hit his next shot. “He took a couple of waggles, drew the wedge back slowly . . . . and shanked it into the ocean.”

Due to the Tallahassee connection, I also took interest in the story of Jake Trout and the Flounders, a musical group consisting of Jacobsen, Payne Stewart, Mark Lye, and Larry Rinker. Mark Lye formerly lived in Tallahassee, and the group recorded at Pegasus Studios in Tallahassee. Jacobsen recounts how he and Payne Stewart followed a blues tradition of getting “shit faced” for the recording. They “made a run to the liquor store in Tallahassee, bought a couple of sixers of Michelob Light, and Payne bought a tin of Red Man.”

My favorite song from the group will not surprise those who know me: a golfer’s rendition of Ottis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.” The piece is entitled “Hittin’ on the Back of the Range.”

“Hittin’ on the Back of the Range”

Hittin’ in the morning sun,
I’ll be hittin’ when the evening comes.
Watching all my shots in flight,
Knowing I ain’t doing it right.
I’m just hitting on the back of the range.
Making a swing that feels so strange.
Hitting on the back of the range,
Not making a dime.

I shanked a shot on seven,
Chunked a wedge at number nine.
Three-putted number eleven,
I think I’m gonna lose my mind.
I’m just hitting on the back of the range.
Trying to be like Curtis Strange.
Hitting on the back of the range,
Not feeling so fine.

I have always enjoyed Peter Jacobsen, and I would like to grant Buried Lies: True Tales and Tall Stories from the PGA Tour my highest award. Unfortunately, I can only award it two balls. Simply put, I was not sufficiently entertained.

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

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