Taking it to the house at Winged Foot
I’ve been a member At Winged Foot since 1961, when I was sponsored by my friend and employer at the time Wellington Mara, who owned the New York Giants. I still can’t get over the beauty of the place. My favorite hole is the tenth on the West Course, a 190-yard par three called Pulpit. It’s a gorgeous hole, and tough as hell, even for the pros. There are deep bunkers on either side of the oblong green and a bunker in front, and if you hit it long you’re likely to be out of bounds. Every time I play it, I stop to soak in the peacefulness of the scene: the huge trees behind and left of the green, the big elm looming over the back tee.
I must admit, though, that I also have a particular fondness for the par-three third on the East—the only hole I’ve ever aced. I was playing with Don Meredith in the early seventies, when we’d just started doing Monday Night Football. It was early morning, and we were staring into the sun. I didn’t see the shot. “Where’d it go?” I asked him. “I think you went over, Shake,” he said. When we reached the green, I walked straight to the back to look for my ball. Suddenly I heard Don say, “Son of a bitch!” and then he pulled my ball out of the cup. So I’d missed seeing my only hole in one. Only one so far, anyway. You never know. I might have another one in me yet. That’s why I love golf: It’s the only game where you initiate everything. In football, you’re reacting to everything. In golf, you can’t blame anyone but yourself.
As told to Peter Richmond. Frank Gifford’s new book, The Glory Game (HarperCollins, $20), is available nationwide.