>There are fantastic shots of beautiful holes and courses around the world, there are snapshots of supremely talented golfers executing impossible shots, and there are snapshots that capture moments in time that are as exciting as any in all of sports. How could you possibly pick one to be your favorite? How do you compare the waves crashing against the shore at Pebble with Jack sinking a birdie putt on 17 at Augusta in 1986? Do you prefer a full metal Tiger fist pump or an aerial view of Cape Kidnappers?
For me, strangely, the picture that I keep coming back to is neither of the above, but a casual picture of Lloyd Mangrum lighting up a cigarette after a round at Augusta.
(Photo courtesy of Ron Watts Private Collection/Edwin Watts Golf)
More than any other picture, this captures the coolness and the style of the game of golf.
Lloyd Mangrum is in many ways a forgotten figure when you talk about golf in the 40s and 50s. Coming out of Texas, as it seemed half the tour did at this time, he won 35 tournaments, including the 1946 US Open.
Mangrum was highly respected by his fellow professionals. Byron Nelson called him “The Forgotten Star”, and Bing Crosby said he possessed a combination of “Rhythm, balance, and style.”
Mangrum won two Purple Hearts during WW2, and declined a pro job at an Army golf club which would have allowed him to avoid combat. His best golf was after the war, when he rattled off ten straight Masters Top 10 finishes, and five straight US Open Top 10s.
Maybe it’s the mysteriousness of the picture that makes it so alluring. Like Howard Hughes, he gives the impression that he might be anywhere in the world 24 hours from now. Nobody has covered this period in golf better than Dan Jenkins, and for all the amazing stories he tells about life on tour at this time, you’d have to think the stories that are still untold are even better.