Remembering Sandy Tatum

Sandy Tatum (1920-2017)

At the 1978 USGA Annual Meeting Sandy introduced me to the audience and without any forewarning, asked me to make a presentation about equipment standards, which I was in charge of developing.

I instinctively decided to tell a true story about one of my super consultants who didn’t play golf – he was a mountaineer having recently returned from a successful ascent of the Matterhorn. Soon after I hired him, this consultant questioned me, and said he didn’t understand the need for our restrictive equipment-performance-standards, which would, as he saw it, defeat the purpose of golf by making it more difficult for golfers to achieve their goal.

I asked him if during his many climbs, had he not been presented with artificial aids, allowing him to achieve his goal more effectively, and when presented with these aids, what had he done?

He responded, “I climb right next to these aids without using them at all. After all they would reduce the challenge, wouldn’t they?”

“I rest my case,” was my reply to which the consultant responded, “I am sorry. Now I understand.”

On my return from the podium having told my story, Sandy looked me straight in the eye, shook my hand and thanked me. A bond between kindred spirits had been sealed.

Subsequently Sandy and I had many stimulating conversations sometimes viewing things from different perspectives while trying to persuade the other about how to respond to a perceived problem based in the main on only anecdotal information.

Sandy was one of the best – if not the best — presidents the USGA has ever had. His insights and love for the game and unrelenting effort to protect the challenge and preserve the integrity of the game, as well as his ability to persuade others that there was no other way, was unsurpassed.

Sandy, I am proud to have known you.

Rest in peace my friend.



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