ORLANDO, FL – Dan Jenkins only wanted to be a sports writer, even if it meant denying the best player he'd ever seen.
Jenkins told the story in 2012 when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He was only the third author listed, and the first "to be taken for a vertical human being". He never took an opportunity too seriously and readers laughed so much the truth was true.
Years ago, Jenkins was playing with his hero, Ben Hogan, at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, when he suggested he train her three days a week for four months. Hogan thought it would be enough for Jenkins to qualify for the American amateur tournament.
"And I said:" Ben, I'm flattered and I appreciate it. I am embarrassed to have to refuse the offer of free golf lessons from the greatest player in the world, but I just want to be a sports writer. . That's all I've always wanted to be, "Jenkins said that night.
Jenkins remembered the cold look, the long pause, and finally Hogan's smile that said, "Well, keep working."
Jenkins did the same thing until his death on Thursday night at the age of 89.
He saw his first major in the US Open from 1941 to the age of 11. He covered the first of the 231 major championships of the 1951 Masters while he was still at the TCU, working for the Fort Worth Press under the late great Blackie Sherrod. He has written 23 books, including bestsellers such as "Semi-Tough" and "Dead Solid Perfect".
He started on a standard typewriter. He ended up on Twitter.
Along the way, he remodeled American sports writing with words formulated from harsh observations.
He wrote what others thought only.
"He has defined not only a generation of golf writers, but also the sport," said Jerry Tarde, editor of Golf Digest Friday night. "He taught us to write golf, to talk about golf, to smoke golf, to drink golf. He has just created the modern language of golf. He amused himself.
Jenkins worked for Fort Worth Press and Dallas Times-Herald, and became famous at Sports Illustrated with his two passions, golf and college football.
He lived briefly at Ponte Vedra Beach, where he discovered Florida football. It was before Steve Spurrier became head coach, before the mighty Gators won as much as a title at the SEC. "They have the attitude of Alabama and the achievements of Wake Forest," Jenkins said.
In golf, nobody was safe, especially if he did not have the pedigree of Hogan, nor Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus. Jenkins has never had the opportunity to know Tiger Woods in the same way. The idea of a dinner, official or unofficial, was greeted by "we have nothing to gain" from Woods' agent.
Jack Nicklaus was out of the country on Friday and still weighs on a writer who, he says, could make him laugh "even when he was not trying."
"The golf lost a great friend to Dan Jenkins," Nicklaus said. "Like other great friends – those who know how to make you smile, laugh and be entertained – Dan was able to do it through his writings. … One thing you always knew, was that you could trust Dan. He never sacrificed precision for good laughs.
There was a lot of laughter, at least for the readers.
Ernie Els says that Jenkins "was not very nice to me", not to mention what was written. It does not matter. The Big Easy has a great perspective. He says that he often reads Jenkins and calls him an "absolute legend".
"In your world, he had to be a Jack Nicklaus," Els told a group of reporters in Bay Hill. "What sense of humor. What a gift to write. It's like in the last two years, it was a little on us. His favorite generation was the Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer period. I can not blame him. I am also a fan of this generation. But what a guy. What a loss for journalism. We have missed our generation.
Without Tarde, another generation might have missed too.
Jenkins was inaugurated at Sports Illustrated in 1984 when Tarde hired him towards the end of the year, with some skepticism. Jenkins was 54 years old. Some thought his best days were behind him. More than 30 years later, Jenkins was still in great shape.
Tarde said June, Jenkins' wife, felt that the magazine "put a lifejacket on us".
"In fact, he threw us one," said Tarde. "He attracted talent. I do not know if I was smart enough to know that at the time, but I quickly learned that when Dan Jenkins was on your team, a lot of people wanted to be part of this team. Dave Marr, Alister Cooke, Tom Brokaw, many of the greats of our lives – not just in golf or sports – wanted to hang on to it. And we have all become smarter. "
He began writing for Golf Digest in 1985 and, in his second year with the magazine, watched Nicklaus charge at age 65 to win the Masters for the sixth time at age 46. Later, Jenkins reminded several writers to be frozen for such a big story. Tarde remembers a smile on Jenkins' face as he began to write what he thought about it, apparently with little effort.
His line of opening:
"If you want to put the golf at the front and you do not have a Bobby Jones or a Francis Ouimet handy, here's what you do: you send an aging Jack Nicklaus in the last round of Masters and the let kill more aliens than a general named Eisenhower. "
Jenkins was honored at the 2009 PGA Championship in Hazeltine for the publication of "Jenkins to Majors: 60 Years of Best Sports Writing in the World, from Hogan to Tiger". He was still ten years old. His first major was Hogan defeating Skee Riegel. His last major was Patrick Reed, beating Rickie Fowler.
It is a record unlikely to be touched.
"I never wanted to do anything else," Jenkins told the 2009 PGA. "So, I was not going anywhere."