Class of 2012
THE LAST GREAT GOLF JOURNALIST, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1880-1954)
Grantland Rice was born on November 1, 1880 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, eighty miles from Nashville. He was christened Henry Grantland Rice, named after Major Henry Grantland, who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
Mr. Rice’s autobiography “The Tumult and the Shouting”, his best written work, was released July 1, 1954.
Mr. Rice, in the opinion of many, stood aside the sports world and the world of the written word for his entire adult life. He accomplished that pinnacle with two technological instruments, the typewriter and the telephone. He had graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1901 with majors in Greek and Latin, with Phi Beta Kappa status.
The great intellect was reflected by that status and those majors. Ultimately, his estimate of his writing from 1901 through July 1, 1954 was some 97,000,000 words, including some 22,000 columns, 7,000 sets of verse, and over 1,000 magazine articles. He also worked for 32 seasons as a World Series radio announcer. At the very moment of his death he was working at his typewriter in his home in East Hampton, Long Island on his six-day-a-week column for 80 newspaper outlets.
One of Mr. Rice’s seemingly endless endeavors concerned “American Golfer”, a highly popular magazine began by the great golfer and architect, Walter J. Travis, who started the magazine sometime shortly before the end of the first World War.
Mr. Rice became the editor around 1921 and customarily wrote an introductory column commenting on the happenings in the world of golf. Sometime in 1922, in one of those columns, he strongly backed the creation of a New York State golf association which could hold state-wide championships. The popular magazine and Mr. Rice’s column caught the attention of many upstate golf enthusiasts, who exchanged ideas and correspondence, which led to the organization of the NYSGA. The formal meeting was held at the Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford, NY in August of 1923 under the leadership of Sherrill Sherman, of Utica. Thus was the NYSGA born – through written comments encouraging such actions by the incomparable Grantland Rice.
The following column written by Mr. Rice needs no introduction. It is modestly edited.
A Golf Story by Charles Price, Atheneum, New York, 1986, pages 85-86
The sports’ world at large was Grantland Rice’s oyster. He was by 1930 one of the highest paid writers in the world and more famous than most of the athletes of whom he wrote. Some of his closest friends were connected with golf and Bobby Jones was among them. When the Augusta National Golf Club was formed, Mr. Rice was one of the eighty charter members.
He was also a close friend of Clifford Roberts, a New York City based financier, who was deeply involved in Bobby Jones’ post retirement activities including the purchase of land upon which the golf course was completed in 1932 as well as the capitalization of the club.
At a first celebratory gathering of the charter members and their guests in Augusta held in 1933, the members gathered after dinner and Bobby Jones stood up, papers in hand, to discuss points of business with the charter members.
“The unusually quiet Grantland Rice suddenly rose from his chair, interrupted Jones’s opening remarks and demanded to be heard. Jones, who considered Rice a candidate for sainthood, could do nothing but yield. Rice went on to explain to the group that he had joined a number of promising clubs in the past some of which went broke because they had become too entangled in meetings, resulting in a clash of egos among business leaders such meetings engender. He did not want that to be the fate of Augusta National.
Nobody would argue with Grantland Rice about a golf club; he belonged to too many of them. Without waiting for a reply, Rice then proposed that Augusta National be run by Jones and Roberts in any way they saw fit. All in favor were asked to stand and vote. Everybody in the room rose as one. There was a chorus of ‘ayes’.
At that moment, it may be said, in retrospect, Augusta National truly came into its own”.
Throughout his life Grantland Rice’s writings had a recurring theme. That theme was courage and belief in oneself, that courage is the major virtue, and that all things work together for good to him who is unafraid.
It is an honor to place Grantland Rice in the New York State Golf Association Inaugural Hall of Fame. He is our creator, in one sense, and his vision, his creativity, his superior use of the English Language and his beloved status among all who ever knew him demonstrates that he pass his own Great Scorer’s test.
Not only did he plant the written seed that became the New York State Golf Association, Grantland Rice also insured that our greatest national golf treasure, the Masters Tournament, would forever, in its own subtle way, be the tournament which reflects in all its aspects the amateur spirit of golf as shaped by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts for the remainder of their respective lives. Amateur golf owes Rice, Jones and Roberts a debt of gratitude.