Political baggage is left behind as Quayle fills Cup with character

JOHN STEADMAN

June 07, 1993|By JOHN STEADMAN

On the program for the Chesapeake Cup, played at the Caves Valley Golf Club, the name Dan Quayle was followed by his home address, Carmel, Ind., and a mere reference to the fact he was once the DePauw University team captain.

This was as it should be. He came for recreation, not to be identified as a voice of government or involved in political pursuits.

There was no need for embellishing his accomplishments, be it as senator or vice president of the United States. If you, the reader, have an in-bred prejudice against Quayle or for other reasons don't like him, then look for another column of type.

Quayle spent the weekend playing his favorite sport and, in a quiet, unobtrusive way, was the perfect gentleman -- both to his hosts and spectators following him.

He offered some sound, insightful perspectives on golf and impressed one and all with his knowledge of the game, its history and what it means to him personally.

How does golf mirror life itself, he was asked?

"Every hole is different," he answered, "just like every day represents another kind of challenge. You take the good luck with the bad. It's between you, the ball and the course you are playing -- which can be your best friend or your worst enemy."

All the profound philosophers of golf, going back to the origin of the game centuries ago, have never described it with more perception or understanding. He was then questioned about the game's immense popularity and the role the late president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, may have played in giving it an appeal it had never before attained in this country.

"No doubt, the president had an impressive impact, but the interest explosion in the game came in the 1970s and hasn't stopped," he said. "It's something you can play until you die and men, women, and children can enjoy it for a lifetime."

Quayle, boyish in appearance and possessing an effortless stroke, said his present handicap was "5," but regretted he didn't play up to it yesterday in the team competition at Caves Valley, where he spent the weekend with a former college teammate, Randy Reifers of Dublin, Ohio. They finished 18th among the 20 twosomes vying for the amateur prize -- to have their names inscribed on the Chesapeake Cup.

How did Quayle get involved in golf?

"I was 10 years old and attended some instructional clinics at the Paradise Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.," he replied. "Other than that I'm self-taught."

And what is the lowest score he ever posted?

"It was a 67 at LaFontaine Golf Club in Huntington, Ind.," and he expressed it with a voice that suggested a depth of pride, realizing it was an accomplishment that can never be taken away. Par was 72.

If you want a capsule lesson from Quayle, he believes the key component of any good swing, and a resulting effective shot, is timing: "You have to be smooth."

As for personal impressions of Caves Valley, which stands as the area's most magnificent new golf creation, he commented: "It's wonderful. I didn't play well. But the course is hard and, if I had been playing better, maybe I could have shot 74. It's a beautiful piece of property, a thrill to walk it and play it. But it's a difficult test."

Yes, and the land was once a holding of Charles Carroll oCarrolton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

"I didn't know that," Quayle said. "Gee, that's interesting. I didn'realize the history that's here."

Could Caves Valley, in his opinion, hold a major tournament"Absolutely," Quayle said. "Certainly a Walker Cup and, yes, even a U.S. Open in time. The architect, Tom Fazio, did well in the plans. No two holes are alike."

Quayle's caddy, Michael Meehan, carried his medium-sizeleather bag, which had a vice presidential seal on the side. "He's a real nice guy and plenty serious about his golf," said Meehan.

A Caves Valley member, Jack Wurfl, followed Quayle every steof the 6,942-yard course. He talked with him freely and found no pretense. "He's approachable, personable and exceedingly gracious," was how Wurfl described him. "Also a solid golfer who hits some great shots."

Quayle says he would like to cross party lines to offer aendorsement for golf and the adventure it is. "This is such a wonderful experience," he said. "It allows you to meet great people and form friendships. I can only hope all Democrats, Republicans and Independents get to play it."

Not a bad wish from the best golfer, the record shows, who eveplayed out of the White House.

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