Remembering Sandy Tatum
A Life Devoted to Golf: Remembering Sandy Tatum
(San Francizco attorney Frank Tatum joined the USGA Executive Committee in 1972 and served two one-year terms as president from 1978-79.)
Frank “Sandy” Tatum, a former USGA president who won the 1942 NCAA individual championship while at Stanford University and later shepherded the restoration of the beloved Harding Park public golf course in his hometown of San Francisco, died on June 22 at the age of 96.
“All of us at the USGA are deeply saddened by the passing of one of the great individuals ever involved with golf,” said Mike Davis, executive director and CEO of the USGA. “Sandy Tatum certainly impacted the USGA in immeasurable ways, but more important were his countless and significant contributions to the game. He will long be remembered as one of the greats in golf.”
Tatum served as USGA president in 1978 and 1979 and was a member of the USGA Executive Committee from 1972-80. He said in a 2014 interview while attending the U.S. Amateur Championship in Atlanta that he continued to keep tabs on all aspects of golf. “I like to stick an oar in the water from time to time,” Tatum said. “I never tire of it.”
Tatum was completely immersed in controversy in 1974, two years after he was invited to join the USGA Executive Committee. As chairman of the Championship Committee, he was involved in the course setup for the U.S. Open Championship that year at Winged Foot Golf Club. The difficulty of the course led Dick Schaap to author a book entitled “The Massacre at Winged Foot.”
(Sandy tatum (rught) forges a lifelong friendship with fellow Stanford alum Tom Watson, often pairing with him in the AT&T National Pro-Am.)
“The pros – almost to a man – thought what we were trying to do was completely humiliate them,” Tatum said of that 1974 Open in a 2011 interview. “And it got very, very controversial, to put it mildly.
“The atmosphere was so pyrotechnic. … It was when I was so seriously challenged by the media and the players that I spontaneously said, ‘Look, we’re not trying to humiliate the best players in the world, we’re simply trying to identify who they are.’”
Read full article written by the USGA
Reflection by Executive Director, Ed Gowan:
“I had the chance to know him. Once he arranged for four of us to play Cypress Point about 40 years ago, noting he could put twenty people a day on the course with the requests he had, but chose to allow four young, unconnected, Rules people working in the game to enjoy the course and a lunch overlooking the 16th green. Arriving coat and tie, somehow Sandy arranged for the Club Manager to meet us at the locker room door, welcoming each of us by name, and insisting we join him for lunch. How many people would find the time, or take the time, to entertain four nobodies?
Over the years since, he never failed to call me by name and say hello no matter where or how many other people were around.
He once spoke at Tucson Country Club to honor his friend, Dr. Ed Updegraff. His remarks were so well constructed, it may have been one of the best speeches ever given around the world of golf. He was a gentleman ‘beyond the pale’ as the Irish might say. Some call Bob Jones the greatest of amateur golfers. When you consider winning majors, yes, he was. If it were only about love of the game, honor, competitiveness, intellect and spirit, then he may very well be in second place to Sandy Tatum, a perfect example of the person we should all aspire to become.”