Bob Hope and the Chrysler Classic
by Ed DeBell
The Bob Hope Desert Golf Classic is one of the few P.G.A. events which is played upon five courses in five days. . . or at least it was at one time. It sure would be a thrill to play five different golf courses one right after the other. But can you imagine what a thrill it would be to play five different courses one right after the other the same day! Let me tell you about it.

During the period of time when I was performing military service for my “Great Uncle” I was stationed at an installation just outside Biloxi, Mississippi. This was in the popular resort area known as the Gulf Coast, and there were quite a few golf courses around - fortunately for me and those who loved to play the game. I tried to play golf as frequently as I could on Sundays, and at that time I had little difficulty getting out on the course as a single at almost any hour of the day. On one particular occasion, however, it was necessary for me to wait a little while for a group which was just teeing off. It consisted of a young man with flaming red hair, his Black caddie, and a much older beefy faced fat man who was carrying a slim “Sunday” bag with just few clubs in it. They seemed to be in somewhat of a hurry, and so I let them go ahead as a twosome. After just a few holes, I noticed they had already “gone through” the group ahead of them, and it seemed no time at all before they were completely out of sight.

I paid little attention to it, but after I had finished my round and was in the snack bar, I overheard they were on some sort of marathon outing and the red headed young man was trying to establish some sort of a record for courses played on one day. It was not until later that I found out he was Lash LaRue from the same facility as mine and he was playing his third round of eighteen holes with his commanding officer and a local caddy. I had seen him on the base and in the mess hall several times and I remembered he was in Special Services and he was from Louisiana. I wasn’t sure whether or not he was a Cajun, but I knew he was quite popular on the base and he had a lot of bravado. It turned out he had made a bet with some sergeants that he could play more golf holes on more different courses in one day than all of them put together; and he was on the third leg of his Odyssey, hoping to get in at least two more. He had already played the Pascagoula Golf Links, the Edgewater Beach Hotel and Golf Course, and now the great Southern Country Club. He would then go to Bay St. Louis and play there, then to Covington in Louisiana, and that would be it. It was slightly past noon when I was playing behind him, so he had that round to finish and probably enough daylight for two more. He had started at the crackle of dawn; he would be one tired rascal by dusk. . . not to mention the driving in between. The “rest of the story” goes that he did indeed play those five courses and he won his bet with the four sergeants who could make only one round each. And what a thrill that must have been for the young “Lasher”!

I tell you all of this because I once played more than just one eighteen hole course in one day and what a thrill that was. I have thought about doing it again, but with golf being so popular now I would get bogged down along the way.

But it’s time we heard about golf from Bob Hope himself, as only he can tell it.

“Hello! This is Bob “with a driver under my arm” Hope here to tell you a little bit about the love of my life - golf, that is. Golf is an international game. I’ve played all over the world, which means there probably isn’t a country with a course in which I haven’t three putted. One of the trips I remember most fondly was my lone appearance in the British Amateur. It was 1951 at the Royal Porthcawl course in Wales. I got beat in the first round by a man smoking a pipe, which of course delighted (Bing) Crosby. It was cold and rainy the day I played Porthcawl, but that was nothing compared to the conditions I’ve encountered elsewhere around the world. In Australia the winds nearly blew us off the golf course. In Korea there was a foot of snow on the ground, but the engineers cleared a fairway and green for me. One course in Alaska was hacked out of the wilderness. My caddy was a moose. Every time I reached for a club he thought I was trying to steal his antlers. In Casablanca they had a beautiful course, seven thousand yards of sand. Every once in a while there was a little patch of grass. That was a trap. Golf’s really fun in Japan because of the women caddies. They’re gorgeous. We had a few Japanese women caddies at the Desert Classic one year. The pros were told they were to be returned at the end of the tournament - no taking home souvenirs.

The Scottish caddies are great. One old fellow at St. Andrews told me, “I had a golfer who was so lousy he threw his clubs into the water. Then he dived in himself. I thought he was going to drown, but I remembered he couldn’t keep his head down long enough.”

And there you have just an inkling of some of the memorable moments of more than fifty years of golfing. (“After all, golf is my real profession. Entertainment is just a sidelight. I tell jokes to pay my green fees.”)

So I think I’ll leave it up to Bob and his pals to play their five rounds of variegated golf. In his book “Confessions of a Hooker” his subtitle is “My lifelong love affair with golf.” You would really have to love this game to tee it up over and over again about ninety times.

I am sure that Bob wishes he could do it forever.


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