“The Big Three and Me” by Billy Casper, with James Parkinson and Lee Benson, foreword by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player
c.2012, Genesis Press
$27.00 U.S. and Canada
Every day, you try to get a little exercise.
Specifically, you try to take a good walk of five-to-seven miles, weather permitting. It kinda makes you feel like a kid again: you get some fresh air, maybe take in a few rays, chase a ball and sometimes, you play in the sand, darn it.
Still, as they say, a bad day of golf is better than a good day at work. But what if golf was your work? In “The Big Three and Me” by Billy Casper (with James Parkinson and Lee Benson), you’ll read about the second man in history to make a million bucks by playing in the grass.
The first golf club Billy Casper ever used was a 5-iron. He remembers because it was the club his father used. Billy was four years old then, and they were playing on a homemade course in a pasture near Silver City, New Mexico.
Casper’s earliest life was idyllic: an only child, he spent countless hours with the animals on his grandfather’s farm. When he was six, his parents began a somewhat nomadic life and they divorced when he was barely a teen. He eventually ended up living with his mother in Chula Vista, California.
There, he found “family” and a calling.
Casper hung out at the San Diego Country Club and golfed as much as possible. He played in the dark, to see how well he’d shoot (a trick he learned from Ben Hogan), and was a caddy when a club member paid for golf lessons. Casper began entering tournaments.
After a half-semester at Notre Dame, marriage, and a stint in the Navy (where he was assigned to a golf course for most of his enlistment), Casper decided to “leave [his] days as an amateur golfer behind forever.” He was a father by then, and needed to feed his family, so he and his wife Shirley found financial backing, bought a car and a trailer, packed up the dog and the baby, and went on the PGA tour.
“We didn’t wear seat belts. We didn’t have seat belts,” Casper says. “We’d pull in [to a truck stop] and park right next to the truckers. Such was the glamorous life of a touring golf pro in 1955.”
Looking for something that’s up to par with your reading tastes? If you live for the links, then “The Big Three and Me” is what you want.
While golfers will revel in the stats and familiar names that author Billy Casper shares, the real fun of this book is in the stories he chips at his readers.
Casper remembers a time when PGA players arranged their own transportation, when $25 was a good-enough purse, and caddies were sometimes forbidden. Those tales are perfect for old duffers, and will put a lot into perspective for new fans.
If you’re someone who likes to putter around on a big lawn or chase little white balls, then grab “The Big Three and Me”… because missing it will just make you tee’d off.