By BILL BROTHERTON
“Is John Daly playing at Salem?” That’s the first question most people ask when they find out I edit North Shore Golf magazine. Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples have made the most money. Billy Andrade, Jerry Kelly and Gene Sauers have the devoted New England following. Tom Watson and Davis Love III are the most recognizable. Nearly every competitor has the skills.
But when the world’s finest golfers age 50 and older tee it up at the U.S. Senior Open Championship at historic Salem Country Club June 26 to July 2, it’s 51-year-old John Patrick Daly the galleries will clamor to see.
It’s easy to see why the average golf fan rallies around Daly. He’s real. You can see yourself sitting next to him at the bar, hoisting a beer (or three). He still hits the ball a ton. He smokes like a chimney. He’s brutally honest about his weaknesses and life choices. His slacks are louder than an AC/DC concert in a small room. And his ample belly hasn’t shrunk much, due in no small part to an allegiance to a whiskey and popcorn diet, a food pyramid nightmare to be sure.
“When I had a good buzz going, I felt I could make everything and play some really good golf,” is one of his more colorful quotes.
Statements like that generate headlines. But Daly has also quietly donated lots of money to numerous charities.
Daly is expected to be in the Senior Open field at Salem. Until his victory at the Insperity Invitational in Texas last month, that was questionable. He was 42nd on the Champions Tour money list; the top 20 get in but others have to earn their way in via sectional qualifying.
But by winning, he earned an automatic exemption. The fact he wore American flag pants on the course in Texas only endeared him more to his fandom. (His girlfriend sported matching short-shorts as she ran across the 18th green to wrap her arms around his meaty tummy.) Even President Trump tweeted his congratulations.
The Senior Open is understandably the focus of our Summer issue. Planning for the biggest sporting event in New England this year started back in 2013, and we chat with the principal players who helped make it happen, including Salem CC member Bill Sheehan, the general chairman, and his predecessor Ollie Cook.
SCC’s Kip Tyler (golf course superintendent), Kevin Wood (head golf professional), Greg Cincotta (general manager) and Fred Yanosick (executive chef) discuss their roles and what players and spectators can expect during the championship.
We introduce you to three North Shore power players behind Bruno Event Team, which is managing and marketing the whole shebang. There’s plenty of non-Senior Open goodies here too, including news from North Shore courses. Bob Green, longtime head golf professional at Tedesco CC, examines the rules changes proposed by the USGA. Webb Heintzelman, Director of Instruction at The Golf Club at Turner Hill in Ipswich, offers tips on how to chip and pitch like a pro. Beth Bresnahan checks out the new 19th hole at Nahant Golf Club. We visit with “The Back Niners” of Marblehead and some local golfers’ quest to play the top-100 public courses.
We hope you like this Summer edition of North Shore Golf magazine. At 60 pages, it’s the fattest issue we’ve ever produced. A rude man would say that’s appropriate given the above focus on the larger than life Mr. Daly, but my mom raised me right so I won’t stoop to that level.
See you on the course!
Bill Brotherton is editor of North Shore Golf magazine. He grew up in Beverly, caddied and worked in the pro shop at Essex CC, is a Ouimet Scholar who graduated from Suffolk University, has written about golf for the Beverly Times and Daily Item of Lynn. He recently retired from the Boston Herald, where he wrote about music and edited the Features section. Tell him what you think at: firstname.lastname@example.org.