Off the Fringe
Seeing John Cook's name atop the leaderboard at the end of Friday's round sent me scrambling for the telephone to call my old boss and friend Dean Juipe.
Waialae is a reminder
of good, old days
As I figured,the veteran Las Vegas Sun columnist was at home watching the Sony Open with his wife, marveling at how flat the old Waialae Country Club course appeared on TV.
During the 1980s, Dean and I covered a lot of golf tournaments in Las Vegas, and we came to know Jim Cook, who was not only the Las Vegas Invitational tournament director, but John's father as well. A nicer family you will never meet.
Iwasn't really sure then how to cover a major PGA Tour event, but Kathy Cook -- John's sister, and not a bad golfer in her own right -- offered a set of questions that would be intelligent enough to get a proper response for a story.
When you have Greg Norman standing in front of you, it's best to know the difference between a driver and a 3-wood. I still carry her advice with me and my tape recorder wherever I go.
"Had to call when John took the lead, brought back too many memories," I said to Dean. "Next time you see Jim Fossum, ask him about that trip we took from the Bob Hope Desert Classic to the Palm Springs Airport down I-10 after Sunday's final round.
"He swears I was going 120, but I never went more than 115. Tops. We left the rental in the parking lot with the keys under the seat. They let us board the plane just before they got on the runway. Even the flight attendants stared us down. But we got our interview with John Cook, by God. All I remember was his wrist hurt."
Dean didn't even recall that, but he did have some news to tell me that no one with Vegas ties will soon forget.
"You know what Rachel and I were just saying before you called?" Dean said of a conversation with his wife. "The Waialae reminds us so much of a course here."
He never got the chance to finish his next sentence.
"The Desert Inn," I said.
"Yeah!" he yelled 3,000 miles through the line. "How did you know?"
"BECAUSE IT DOES," my wife said later when I relayed our conversation.
It does. Much like Waialae, the Desert Inn has that '50s feel to it, when golf courses of another era were first born.
"They're tearing down the Desert Inn," I said to my wife. "Dean told me. Just like the Dunes and the Tropicana. I still remember how excited we were the first time we played all three of those courses. The history, the feel of knowing you're walking the same fairways as Palmer and Nicklaus."
"And the gangsters," my wife said as she started to laugh and cry.
"The Desert Inn?"
It was all she could say. Like golf clubs from back in the day, today's pros outgrew the old Desert Inn. Gone the way of the Castaways and the Silver Slipper, the drive-in and the old driving range.
"There has been some talk of moving this event to a more suitable setting for today's young guns," I said to Dean.
"Tell them not to do it," he said before hanging up. "It wouldn't be the same."
"No, it wouldn't," my wife agreed. "We need them, so they can remind us of the good, old days."
Star-Bulletin Sports Editor Paul Arnett has covered all the major golf tournaments in Hawaii. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org