May 20, 2021

Charles Coody - Part 1, The Masters 1971

Charles Coody - Part 1, The Masters 1971

50 years on from his Masters triumph, Charles Coody recounts his early life, committing to golf as his livelihood after being inspired while seeing Hogan and Snead at Colonial CC as a 14-year old. Hear about life on the road as a traveling caravan from tour stop to tour stop, families on the road together. He relives his close call at the Masters in 1969 and his one regretful club-pull at the 16th. Breaking through with his win in 1971 over Nicklaus and Johnny Miller he makes it clear who he needed to beat and we talk about one of the most underrated golf shots in the tournament. We finish Part 1 with a funny story of his Master’s caddie, “Cricket” trying to go incognito on national television at the Masters. Charles Coody relives former glory, “FORE the Good of the Game.”

Transcript
Music playing:

Intro music.

Mike Gonzalez:

Charles Coody is our guest today and Charles, I'm gonna put you on the spot right out of the box. You have a choice. You can either go to your 50th Masters champions dinner next year or you can go to Seminole and watch your grandson Pierceson play the Walker Cup. Which one would it be?

Charles Coody:

I tell you what, Mike, as much as I enjoy the Masters dinner every year, I've been 49 times. So I'll take the Seminole trip.

Bruce Devlin:

Mike and I talked about that. And we said, there's no doubt of which one Charlie would take he would go see his grandson.

Charles Coody:

I there's no doubt about that, Bruce. I'm looking so forward to that. It's just unreal.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, we're gonna come back to that. But we expected that answer. We're visiting with Charles Coody. Of course, celebrating the 50th year of his win at the Masters in 1971. And I know you were down there this year, it must have been a great week for you, you've probably retold the story and recapped those last few holes a zillion times, but it's got to be fun for you.

Charles Coody:

I've talked with several reporters calling me up wanting me to talk about in the fiftieth year, I didn't realize all that would really happen. And it's surprisingly, I've been able to remember an awful lot about it. In fact, one of them asked me, how much do you remember of the last round? I say well do you have four hours?

Mike Gonzalez:

Take you through shot by shot right?

Charles Coody:

That's right. If you don't know how long each putt was, I'll be happy to tell you.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, what's your first recollection of Bruce Devlin? and Bruce, I'll ask you the same question when Charles has a chance to answer.

Charles Coody:

My first recollection of Bruce really was he played at Colonial when I was still in the Air Force in Fort Worth at Carswell Air Force Base. Bruce, what year did you start the tour?

Bruce Devlin:

I actually played the first time I played Colonial was 1963.

Charles Coody:

That was probably the first time that I knew of Bruce Devlin. And then in 1964, my first year on the tour I remember we played 36 holes at the Oklahoma City Open there at Quail Creek, Ernie ____ old, golf course. And it rained and rained and rained and I just remember how muddy it was the whole week that we were there. In that red Oklahoma clay.

Bruce Devlin:

That's the first time I remember Charles Coody as well, Mike. He was a look. His record speaks for itself. You know, he's, he's been a great player, as you mentioned, won the Masters in 1971. Terrific record, one of the steadiest players that that I saw on the Tour during my years playing on the Tour. Mr. Consistency was Charles Coody.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, Charles, there's quite a bit we want to talk about, including your professional career. But let's just go back to the early days, born in Stamford, Texas, and tell us a little bit about just some of your early memories growing up there even before you got into the game of golf.

Charles Coody:

Well, actually, I was born in the hospital in Stanford, Texas,but my father was actually a high school teacher and a football coach at a little town, north and Stanford called ____. And I lived in Rhode Island, I lived in New York, I lived in Mississippi, I lived in New Orleans, a bunch of different places. And then, and then my mom and I came back to Stanmford. When dad went to sea in the Navy, there in about 1943, or something like that. Anyway, and I first started school in a little small town outside of Stamford called ______. And my mother says to teach the teaching there, and everything and then my dad came home in 1945 from the war. And he coached one year at this little small school where my mother was teaching and then he went to work for ____Oil when ___ was a was a new company back in the mid 40s, early 40s. And I lived the rest of my life growing up in Stamford, graduating in high school there in 1955, and going to TCU I entered it in September of 1955. So that was my life at Stamford.

Mike Gonzalez:

And you were quite an athlete. You excelled in football, you had a great football team and in your high school days, a good basketball team. But at some point, some of those activities had to be curtailed because you had a mild case of poliovirus back in 1950, which sort of limited you to maybe getting you on to a little bit more golf.

Charles Coody:

Well, actually, it was the thing that instigated me toward playing a lot more golf. I loved football, I loved basketball. But after I had the light case of polio, because it was such a spinal involvement in as far as the disease is concerned, the doctors told my parents that I couldn't play any football or basketball for at least a year, no contact sport of any kind. And my dad looked at the doctor and said, Well, I guess he needs exercise. And the doctor said he sure does. And he said, Well, he started playing golf about a year ago. Is that good enough exercise, and the doctor said, Yes, it is. And dad looked at me and said, Son, I'll get you a set of golf clubs if you want to start playing golf full-time. And I said, Yes, sir. Let's go. And that's that's how I got started playing golf on a steady basis.

Mike Gonzalez:

Yes, you caddied for your dad as a as a young boy, is that right?

Charles Coody:

Yeah, well, he when he came, dad started playing golf. When he was in the Navy. Actually, we were he was stationed in Schenectady, New York for a short time going to some type of Officers Candidate School at Union College. And he would go out and play with some of his buddies whenever they had the time and stuff. And he had let me go out and walk around with him. But he never would let me hit a ball or anything like that, and didn't want to hold up play. And anyway, but when he came home,from the war, 1945, October 45. I hadn't seen much of him for about three and a half years. And of course, I wouldn't let him out of my sight and I was lucky. Where, wherever my dad when he let me go. Yeah. And I remember he used to hunt coyotes. And he let me to go hunt coyotes. And I wanted to go with him when the dogs were running the coyotes, but he wouldn't let me get out in the brush and stuff like that didn't didn't want to lose me out there in the bushes somewhere.

Mike Gonzalez:

You must have some pretty vivid memories then of sort of the War years and the aftermath of the War years back in the 40s though.

Charles Coody:

Well, I remember being in San Francisco when they announced the the fact that Germany had surrendered. And at that point, they knew pretty much that the war was was going to be over. And of course, they had Truman hadn't released the atom bomb to be dropped on Japan just yet. But he did shortly after that. And of course, when they dropped that, and then when they dropped the next one, then you knew the war was over. And everybody was coming home. And of course, that was that was a happy day, when my dad came home.

Mike Gonzalez:

I'm sure it was and you know, it's not surprising to hear you say that having him been gone all that time. You just really didn't want to let him out of your sight. You just want to hang with as much as you could.

Charles Coody:

Well, I'm sure there were a lot of young young boys and young girls that were in the same boat that I was, you know, their, their dad goes off to war and, and quite honestly, you know, at that particular age, you may not really fully know what war is. But you still knew that they were in danger, and whenever they would come home on leave, it was a seemed like they no more than get home and they would be leaving again. And when they left you didn't know if you'd ever see him again.

Bruce Devlin:

Not a very nice feeling.

Charles Coody:

I remember one time when my dad came home on leave it was in the wintertime. And then he when he left my mom and I went back to Stamford he had caught the train over here in Abilene back to going back to where his ship was. And we went home and and we got inbed and mom let me get in bed with her and I cried myself to sleep and she was holding me and I thought many times after that here her son was crying and she was holding himbut had I just had no idea how her heart was breaking too.

Mike Gonzalez:

Yeah, that had to be tough for a lot of mothers and a lot of wives.

Charles Coody:

Oh had to be had to be yeah.

Mike Gonzalez:

I recall you also telling the story and this, this maybe goes back to when you were just first deciding to take up golf seriously in lieu of your other your other sports that you had an uncle that took you to see a couple of well known players Ben Hogan and Sam Snead play up a Colonial and that seemed to make an impact on you.

Charles Coody:

That's right. My uncle took me as a graduation present from graduating from eighth grade, to be eligible to go into high school. And his wife and my mother actually were first cousins but they were like sisters because her family had raised my mother from the time that she lost her parents. And so he knew he knew I was getting into golf and how much I loved it and he had a friend that was a member at Colonial there in Fort Worth. And he got us tickets to go and watch on Thursday and Friday. And I was so excited about going in and watching Mr. Hogan play. And of course this was in the first year that he started playing again after he had his wreck in 49 and I remember walking down with him and going over Bruce, you know, with the 14 green he walked all the way over to the 14th green and dropped hishag bag right there on the edge of the rough off the green and hit balls back up the 14th fairway. And I had never seen anybody hit a golf ball that way. Of course I had caddied for some pretty what we're pretty decent, West Texas amateurs there at home. But the way he hit the golf ball, it was just unbelievable. And and then after he finished practicing we walked back to the clubhouse and then it wasn't long after that we heard that he hdd withdrawn that his legs he said his legs were gonna let him play. And that was the year that Snead won the tournament. And I remember I remember watching a lot of different players Jerry Barber hit the greatest recovery shot I ever saw out of a tire rut behind the second green. Turned around with his back to the hole and hit the hit turnedthe wedge upside down and hit it out of the tire rut and it ran up to the hole up the side of the hill about a foot from the hole. And I just saw so many things that week. I'm not gonna bore you with all the different shots that sell people hit.

Mike Gonzalez:

I'll tell you, Jerry Barber's son, Tom, who I've just communicated with indirectly via social media in the last couple of days, will be pleased to hear that story because Jerry Barber was from my hometown area of Jacksonville, Illinois. So, I certainly know that name. And I know Bruce remembers him as well.

Charles Coody:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. You know, Jerry was it that little dinky slice out there and everything but boy, he could chip and putt. Good. Gosh, I think you could get it up and in from a cellar.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, you had a pretty good amateur career. So your game must have really taken off in your high school years. You were the 1954 Texas High School Class A medalist and I assume that was your senior year?

Charles Coody:

No, that was my junior year junior year. Okay. Yeah, my senior year I finished third.

Mike Gonzalez:

Gotcha, gotcha. And then you went on to play college golf. Did you start at TCU

Charles Coody:

I started at TCU. There's some bio out that said that I started Abilene Christian, which is here in Abilene where I live now. And I never gave a second thought about going to Abilene Christian.I started out at TCU.

Mike Gonzalez:

But you had a teammate that Bruce would know.

Charles Coody:

Oh, yeah. Don Massengale really a good player. In fact, if, if Don had if the equipment that they have today had been on the Tour when Don first started Bruce, as you remember he had trouble with a little bit of a hook.

Bruce Devlin:

Right, I do remember.

Charles Coody:

And if he if Don had been able to, of course that's where you learn to play in West Texas you'd hook the ball because the ball would hit on the hard ground and just run and run and run and might have one or two irons shorter into the green. But anyway Don had a little bit of trouble with the hook and had he had the steel heads and the fiberglass shafts we have today that people play with everything that makes the ball go a lot straighter. He probably would have done a lot more in his career than what he did. He was a wonderful player. Wonderful player. And he had a brother that played as well. Right. Yeah, Rick Massengale. Yeah, that was his brother. Yeah. In fact I played with Rick when he won the Bob Hope Desert Classic in Palm Springs played with him the last round. Rick was a good player, but he had a he had a bad back and it cut his career short.

Mike Gonzalez:

And you won theTexas State amateur in 1959. That must have been right before you graduated then. Right?

Charles Coody:

Well, that was that was that. Actually, you don't have this on the bio that you sent Mike I crammed a four year course into five in college. That's probably that's probably why I'm not any better at this technology stuff that I am. But I won the Texas State Amateur in 1959 at Oak Hills in San Antonio. Bruce will remember that golf course?

Bruce Devlin:

I certainly do.

Charles Coody:

The old Tillinghast golf course, a wonderful little old traditional style golf course, small greens. And if you walk off one green and you're probably on about 20 or 30 yards at the most to the next tee.

Mike Gonzalez:

So let me ask you this, your decision to enlist in the Air Force after college did that relate in any way to your father's service?

Charles Coody:

Not really, not really at the at the time that I mean, I was glad to serve. And I'm glad that I did. I learned a lot I learned how to live on very little money. And, but at the time that I was in school, when you finish school, if you if you weren't what they called 4-F you had something that would declare you ineligible for the draft you were probably going to be drafted. And and I'd gone through the what we call ROTC program in school. And, and I was actually that's a that's another storyin itself. Because when I went through if you if you went through the whole program, at the end of graduation, you were expected to go into flight school. And I knew I wans't gonna try to fly Iwasn't going to make a career out of the Air Force. And so I was really worried about that between my junior and senior year. And at that particular time, it was a three year commitment. And then between my junior and senior year, they changed it to a five year commitment. And then they said, Well, if you don't want to fly, we'll still take you as an officer for three years. And they couldn't put the paper in front of me quick enough to sign for that because I knew I wasn't gonna make a career out of the military. I knew what I wanted to do. I'd wanted to do that since I'd gone to Colonial when I was a 13 year old boy.

Mike Gonzalez:

Yeah, so take us through that decision. Because at some point you know, something clicked. I know, it was an impressionable time at Colonial when you were young. But at some point, you got to make a decision. What am I going to do with my life? Finishing up college? And so this this, this thought of playing golf, professionally for a living? Is there a moment that you can specifically remember where you say, Okay, I've got the game, I'm going to go do this?

Charles Coody:

Well, when I when I came home from watching the Colonial tournament there that couple of days with my uncle, the first thing my mom asked me was, did you have a good time? I said, Yes, ma'am. I sure did. And and she said, Well, what do you what do you think about golf? And I said, Mom, I'm going to make a career out of golf. I'm going to be a professional golfer. This scared the you know what out of her? And she looked at me said, well, promise me one thing you will finish school. I said, Yes, ma'am. I promise you I will finish school. And that's why that's the reason why I spent five years in college was to finish. I didn't have a good counselor when I was in school, and I wound up graduating with probably about 20 or 25 more hours than I needed in my particular curriculum. And everything because I took some classes I shouldn't have taken in everything, but it didn't apply to the degree of what I was getting. and stuff. So that's that's one way and then too, I kid my wife, I tell her, we went to high school together. We grew up together. We went to high school together. And I beat her out of high school two years. And I beat her out of college three months. It took me five years to graduate from college and took her 3 years.

Mike Gonzalez:

You were just working with her to get the schedules all syncedup there huh?

Charles Coody:

Oh yeah. And I told her I said the reason it took me five years waiting around you for you to graduate. I didn't want somebody else to scarf you up.

Bruce Devlin:

And it just tells tells me Charlie, how smart you are really, because you got to marry Lynette.

Charles Coody:

Well, everybody, right? Hey, Bruce, everybody tells me that I married well above myself. And then I look at 'em and say, Well, do you think I'm stupid?

Bruce Devlin:

You're not stupid. That's for sure.

Charles Coody:

No, I tell you what she is a wonderful woman. She's, she's been a great partner for for over 60 years now. We celebrated our 60th last September. And what I what I tell some other people is we dated off at all for six years prior to that, so I get credit for those six years. Yeah, I take credit for 'em.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well let's talk about you turning professional in 1963. I'll just run through a couple of quick stats. 15 professional wins, including three PGA Tour victories, 2 European Tour wins and five wins on the Senior PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour itself, 629 starts, 205 Top 25's and 84 top 10's. that's pretty good with one major to your credit. And that's the 1971 Masters that we'll talk about. What are some of your favorite memories, just from your early early years on the Tour coming out?

Charles Coody:

Well, a lot of these friends that we've made and were able to associate with it was it was the Tour at that particular time, Mike was more like just a large caravan. You know, of course, you know, I got to know Bruce and Gloria, and but we didn't really socialize that much together. I regret that because we liked Bruce, and Gloria very much. But yeah, I made the main friends. The people I made friends with were people that came on the Tour about same time I did like Dale Douglass and his wife, Joyce and Lou and Patsy Graham and Tommy and Jenny Aaron, and George and Donna Archer. And you know everybody traveled by car at that particular time and you couldn't you couldn't afford airplanes, not on the amount of money that we were able to make. And, and we would literally to some degree, we would travel in a caravan down the highway. If you missed the cut, on Saturday morning, you would get together and you'd start out down the road. And that way, if anybody had car trouble, they always had somebody that can help them. And if you made the cut, which exempted you for the next tournament then you you did that on Monday morning. And because if you missed the cut, then you had to qualify the next week. And so you had you had to leave on Saturday morning to get there to hopefully play a practice round on Sunday before you would qualify try qualify on Monday.

Bruce Devlin:

It was easy back then there wasn't it Charlie

Charles Coody:

I tell you I tell Bruce. Bruce. I tell people that back then it was it was hard to stay for the simple reason that you know, they just did a competition, while there there wasn't the number of players that there are today, the competition was very, very stiff for a very few spots. And and in that. And I don't minimize today, the guys out there today. And they've all got their issues that they have to deal with. But the amount of money that the revenue that someone can produce now through playing professional golf is is mind boggling to some extent.

Mike Gonzalez:

I just always figured you two guys flew around in your private Learjet.

Charles Coody:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, the ones that could afford that were, were quite a few echelons above us. Yeah,

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, let's talk a little bit about about major championships. 72 starts in majors for Charles Coody 37 cuts made 14 straight cuts made from 1966 to 1971. That's pretty impressive. In terms of the Masters 38 starts 16 cuts made. And three top fives, five top 25's. Some people know this but you had a good chance to win in 1969 didn't you,

Charles Coody:

I did. I had a chance. And that's all I've ever said Mike is I had a chance I have never told people that I should have won the tournament. I'm a firm believer that you know the last hole of the tournament is just as important as the first hole and you know some people bogey the last hole and then somebody else wins the tournament. Well, the fact is the guy that shot the lowest score is the guy that wins the tournament. And George Archer played very well that week he, he hit the probably the greatest chip shot I ever, ever seen under pressure on 15 when he knocked it in the water, and he walked down to the very edge of the lake where he took his drop, most people would go to the drop circle, or they would go back further so make a hopefully put a little spin on the ball to stop it near the hole. But he walked down to the very edge of the water and dropped it and hit a pitching wedge and bumped it into the hill, Bruce in front of the green and bounced up on the green and went about eight feet behind the hole and he made it for a par. That kept George in the tournament. And so it was that that's a that's probably the biggest memory to me about that tournament. And of course, I made a very tactical mistake. When I hit I tried to hit a five iron instead of a six iron, which that's exactly what the distance was.

Mike Gonzalez:

And you're talking about on the 16th hole.

Charles Coody:

On the 16th hole, yeah, George Knutson had hit before me and I very seldom, I didn't care what other people hit. And you know, I don't care if a guy hits a four iron if I've got if I've got to hit a three, I'll hit to three. I felt good about long irons and George hit a, I was playing with George and George hit a four iron and as Bruce knows George, sometimes rather than playing golf he liked he liked to play shots. And he kind of took, he kind of took this little swing that and threw the ball up in the air and it landed about 30 or 40 feet short of the hole and back down the hill. And now he's gonna have that big breaking putt that Nicklaus sunk in 72. And I didn't want that putt. I didn't mind the putt from the left side of the green going up the hill. And instead of hitting the six, which I wanted to hit it just I inadvertently saw that he had hit a four iron and I thought, well, maybe a six is not quite enough. And so I changed my mind went to a five iron and never was committed, hit a poor poor shot into the left bunker didn't get it up and downansd it just it just turned me around it. Excuse me, like I came out of revolving door and bogied the last two holes also. So I finished very, very poorly. But it was all instigated by a bad decision on the 16th tee.

Mike Gonzalez:

I'll read you a quote from the article that Dan Jenkins wrote a famous golf writer about that particular Masters. And this is a quote from you. It says I just remember holding a five iron in my hand on the 16th tee and wishing I could make myself hit a six. You can't hit a good five iron if you're thinking about a six iron on your backswing.

Charles Coody:

I might have said something like that to Dan, but I don't know if I phrased it exactly that way. You know, Jenkins. Jenkins would make a story sound good. If it was good, it was good writing for him and everything. But I probably told him something. The fact that I hit a five iron and that I wanted to get a six iron and just didn't didn't believe in it enough and I couldn't commit to it.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, you know, we're asking all of our guests that played in your era. If you had one Mulligan in your career, what shot would you want a second chance at. Would that be the one?

Charles Coody:

At that particular moment, yes. Because when I went back in 71 ironically when I got up on the 16th tee, I promise you it was deja vu 1,000% if it's is possible for 1,000%. The shadows were the same the pin was in the back roght of the green right up against the bunker where it was in 69. The yardage was the same even the shadows of the people that would be sitting in the little small grandstand area to the left of the tee.were the same. I mean it was it was like Bill Murray and Groundhog Day.

Mike Gonzalez:

So we want you to we want you to take our listeners through that day. You won it in 71 wire to wire by two over Nicklaus. Nicklaus had won the PGA earlier that year. It was played early that year for some reason and so this this would have kept his grand slam alive. Johnny Miller was an up and comer he also finished two shots back I think it was Johnny's first Masters. You opened up with a 66, three clear of the field.

Charles Coody:

Oh, I opened up with a 66. The next dayd I shot 73 I played with Gary, Gary Player and, and I played pretty well except for one little stretch from the sixth hole through the 12th hole. I think I played those, whatever that is five or six holes. I think I played them about four over par. And then I turned turned the ship around enough to get back into the clubhouse with a 73 in the second round, so I'm actually one shot behind. I forgot who was leading after 36.

Mike Gonzalez:

Don January was leading after 36 and Bruce Devlin was T-9.

Charles Coody:

And Bruce was T-9, okay, Bruce, I apologize guy I didn't know you were there. I don't I don't mean that in a derogatory sense. You know, after after I was leading the first day, and everything from the first day on, and I knew that I had one person to beat if I beat that one person that I would win the tournament. And that was Jack Nicklaus. Rich Lerner from the Golf Channel about six or seven years ago, they wanted to come in and interview me as a former Masters champion and what I was doing, you know, in basically in retirement, and all Rich wanted to do was talk about Johnny Miller and the Masters. And I don't know that I never really saw the interview. So I don't know. I don't know if this was in there or not but I said Rich, I said let me tell you something. I said Johnny Miller became a great player. But Johnny Miller wasn't Johnny Miller in 1971 that he was in 1973, 4, 5 and 6 and I said I was not concerned at all about Johnny Miller. This is not to be condescending to him in any way. But I knew if I beat the blonde headed guy Jack Nicklaus, if I beat him then I would win the tournament. And that's the way I felt you know, the whole tournament after I got the got that lead on on Thursday.

Mike Gonzalez:

Yeah, so you started Sunday tied for the lead with Jack Nicklaus after 54 holes at seven under. Bruce Devlin was lurking tied for seventh after the third round. What your memories of that Bruce?

Bruce Devlin:

All I know is those guys ran too fast for me. I couldn't catch 'em.

Charles Coody:

Where did Where did you? Where did you finish in the tournament? Bruce? I'm sorry, but I just don't remember.

Bruce Devlin:

I think I finished about seventh in the tournament.

Charles Coody:

Did you? Yeah. Okay, well, it was a it was a good field. You know, I think Arnold shot something like 69 the first round so he was there for a couple of rounds. And I mean, I don't I don't know what Billy was Billy Casper was doing at the time I just, you know, I was so concerned about just making sure that I could try to beat that little at that time that little chubby Ohio kid.

Mike Gonzalez:

So speaking of Nicklaus I remember watching recently the interview on the couch and you know after play and we'll come back to the the round but after a play. And I don't know what sort of recollection you had of the green jacket ceremony but but you're on the couch with Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller sitting next to you who had finished second and then also Steve Melnyk was the low amateur. Did you remember up until recently did you remember who the guys were at that ceremony with you?

Charles Coody:

Oh, yes, yes, I remember that. Yeah, I've ever course. Johnny and Jack being runner up they both would be there and then Steve being the low amateur in the tournament, he would be there. That's that's the traditional way that they do the presentation in the cabin.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, Nicklaus didn't have the kind of round he had hoped for. I think he had four three putts that day he had two penalty strokes and so he just wasn't able to make it happen that day, but I've got to say you closed this thing down pretty well because you finished birdie birdie par par while I think Miller bogied two of the last three holes. Why don't you take us through the last little bit you you hit the shot? you committed to your shot on 16 and so you made birdie there right?

Charles Coody:

17 the way I've tried to play 17 I tried to you know I wasn't really a high-ball hitter but I tried to hit the I tried to tee the ball up where I would catch it high in the clubface and then try to fly it over Ike's tree. And of course I was predominantly a right to left player but in that particular time. I I was trying to the way I would playing 17, I would try to hit it up over Ike's tree with a little fade. And I hit a pretty solid drive, I thought. There were some people from home here in Abilene that were there with us that week. And one of them told me when the ball hit the ground, and I hadn't hit it. Over the right side of the tree, I hit it basically over the left center of the tree and he said when it hit the ground, it was like it hit in a divot or hit something and just went 90 degrees left and went into that front bunker, on the seventh green on the right side.

Mike Gonzalez:

So Bruce, you can picture that right, you've been there.

Bruce Devlin:

You know, that's that is if you can get into jail on the 17th hole at the Masters, that is jail, there is no where to go from there except to try and get it back in play. And I'm sure that's what Charlie had to do

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, and for our listeners, I want you right now, if you're listening to this podcast on a phone or computer, whatever, I want you to pause it, I want you to go and get a Google map, or an Apple map or some sort of satellite map, pull up Augusta National, get the golf course on your screen. And you look at that front right bunker on seven. And look at what kind of shot he had. And Charles, you can take us through it. But that may be one of the most underestimated golf shots in all of major championship history.

Charles Coody:

I've told people that it you know, as far as Charles Coody individually its probably the greatest golf shot Iever hit in my life. And, and when I walked over there to where the ball was, I was like, first of all, I couldn't believe it was there, I couldn't see it. Because the ball was not hooking. And there was no way it should have been in that bunker other than that immediate bounce to the left that my friend told me about. And but I was fortunate on one sense when it rolled into the bunker it didn't roll all the way to the bottom of the bunker, I was on just just a little bit of an upslope. And when I walked down into the bunker to try to look at what I had, you know, I've got two choices I can I can try to advance it up the fairway as much as I can. Or I can just take a sand wedge and blast it back out into the fairway and then try to try to save par you know from what would be where your normal tee shot would be. And but that little bit of an uphill lie kinda encouraged me to try the shot that I did. Now I got in there and I when I was looking at the at the green, I could see the pin. I could see the pin, it was on the right front of the green I could see the pin just underneath the overhanging limb from the pine tree that was in front of me there. And so I had to go around that limb. And I decided to you know, I had to make par But I figured it's you know the chances of Jack birdieing one of the last two holes were always pretty good. And and so I took a seven iron and somehow I hooked the ball out of that lie and wound up about 10 to 15 yards off the right edge of the green there, a simple little bump and run shot at that time. I bumped it up there about three feet from the hole and made the putt for a par.

Mike Gonzalez:

It seemed as though the fellas on the telecast because people have to remember back then. There weren't too many cameras. They are all stationary. There were no there were no roving reporters or roving cameras. And so the view you got from that stationary screen behind 17 green. But that stationary camera looking back toward where Charles Coody was you didn't know and the announcers didn't know that you were in a bunker but if you watch it you'll could you can distinctly see sand fly and that even after the shot these guys I don't think picked up on the fact that you were actually in the bunker on the front right of seven green.

Charles Coody:

I think I think it took them a while to find me Mike. I don't think I don't think anybody had ever been. I think I'm the first person ever that hit it in that bunker off the 17th tee.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well, it was a great shot.

Charles Coody:

It was probably the greatest shot I ever hit my life. Just just to get it out to get it up around the green and where I might have a chance to save par.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well it made for a nice walk up 18 didn't it?

Charles Coody:

It did. It did and I the way I played 18. The year that I finished poorly in 69. In the first round, I'd hit it in that first bunker and caught the lip coming out and the ball came right back to me. And I had the same shot again, I wound up making six. And the last place I was going to put the ball was in that in that bunker. And like I said, I turned the ball right to left. And I didn't want to try to take a driver and try to fade it out into the neck of the fairway and I hit my three wood, and just knowing that I would probably turn it right to left and aimed at the bunker and the ball went left of the bunker out there, where, again, I had about 170, 75 yards to theand I hit a six iron on and two putted for par.

Mike Gonzalez:

So what are your other memories of that week I mean a great, great championship win. But did you make the trip with friends that week?

Charles Coody:

Yeah, there were there were three couples that had gone down there with us. We rented a house on a in fact, I wish I had bought that house. It was a real is a real old house but it's in it's in a neighborhood that's very, very close to the tournament, Augusta National and I wish I had bought it and furnished it and then with then leased it out with the agreement that the two weeks of the first two weeks in April I could have the house at no charge.

Mike Gonzalez:

That must have been a fun week. Your caddy that week, Walter "Cricket" Prichard. Is that right?

Charles Coody:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, that's a good story. I guess you've heard that.

Mike Gonzalez:

Well I don't know, why don't you tell us.

Charles Coody:

Okay, well, Walter had uh.... Bruce will remember him. He'd caddied on the Tour for a few years. He caddied for, I don't know who he caddied for I htink he had the most success with Doug Sanders if I remember right, Bruce?

Bruce Devlin:

Yeah, I think you're right too.

Charles Coody:

Anyway. And when I went over and 69 he had he had left the Tour, and married a gal that was from Atlanta. I believe and when he left the Tour he started driving a bus for Marta in Atlanta but he would come over, I think on the weekends and caddy at Augusta National. And then and with that, they let him caddie in the 69 tournament, and he was assigned to me. And we almost won. Anyway, so I go back in 71, they're still assigning caddies. And, and they gave me this caddie, he gets my bag and we're walking to the practice tee to hit a few balls before we play. This is on a Sunday. And I looked at him, I forgot what his name is. But I called him by name. And I said, Where's your towel? And he said, What do I need a towel for? And I said, Well, I said, when the clubs get dirty, and a golf ball is dirty. What are you going to clean 'em with? He said, Oh, I'll get one. Okay, I'll get one after the round. I said, No, you go get one right now. And anyway, so I knew I knew this was not going to be a lasting relationship. And we played 18 holes. And so we're walking back to the clubhouse. And I'm getting ready to go in and talk to Dave Spencer, Bob Kletke, who were the Co-pros there that they were kind of involved in the assigning of the caddies and along with the caddiemaster. Anyway, and now I'm walking through the parking lot and their stands Cricket and I said, What are you doing? And he said, I came over here to caddie for you. And I said, I don't care what happens if a bomb goes off, you stay right there. You do not move I'll be back. And, and I went in it. Believe it or not, it took at least an hour to an hour and a half for them, for me to convince then that Cricket should be able to caddie for me and they relented. And he was good, Cricket was a good caddy. He knew the rules of show up, keep up and shut up. And so anyway, we're walking down the seventh fairway after hitting the tee shot on Saturday. And he said Charles, I need to ask you a question. I said sure. Cricket, what is it? He said what holes do they start the TV on? I said Cricket I got no idea. Probably probably earliest, probably 10 maybe 11 or 12 or something. Anyway, with that we're at the we were at the we're gonna play the second shot and I hit my shot on the green he gives me the putter and when I go to the green, and when I putt out he gives me the driver.and I go back to eight and he goes up the fairway and then I catch up to him in the fairway after driving off the tee. And I said Crcket, let me ask you, why do you want to know what holes they start the TV on, and he said, Well, you know, he said, I'm driving a bus for Marta over in Atlanta. And I said, I know that Cricket. He said, Well, I told my supervisor that my grandmother in Houston was sick and I needed to have the week off. And he said, I'm going to have to go into my disguise. And I laughed so anyway, as Bruce knows whenever you finished the 10th green well the caddy would give you the driver and you'd go back to 11 and if he would shortcut up to the 11th fairway and did that and then I'm walking up that hill on 11 and Cricket comes walking out of the gallery on the right side there and got he's got this dadgum Masters towel draped over his head underneath his cap. And, got to laughing I said Cricket it's not gonna do any good because he had he had a very, very prominent nose that you could identify ou tin front of that towel. And I said well with that nose you have I said there's no way in the world they're not going to recognize you in Atlanta and he goes back to work on th Monday morning and he goes by that supervisors desk and the supervisor looked at him and said Cricket you had a nice week didn't you? So it was a it was a little levity that really worked out good at the time because you know, in different times as Bruce will attest at different times in a turnament especially if you're there with a chance to win a chance or a chance to play well. There's there's times you can get a little tight and you know you kind of get get a little ahead of yourself and stuff and that worked good that kind of broke the ice a little bit, which I think that could have been instrumental in not being able to play well.

Mike Gonzalez:

Thank you for listening to another episode of "Fore the Good of the Game." And please, wherever you listen to your podcast on Apple and Spotify, if you like what you hear, please subscribe, spread the word and tell your friends. Until we tee it up again, FORE the Good of the Game", so long everybody.

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Charles Coody

Billy Charles Coody (born July 13, 1937) is an American professional golfer, best known for winning the 1971 Masters Tournament. Coody was born in Stamford, Texas and raised in Abilene, Texas. He graduated in 1960 with a bachelor's degree in Business from Texas Christian University; he made his pro debut in 1963.

Coody won two regular PGA Tour events early in his career and was known as one of the best iron players of his era. At the 1971 Masters Tournament, Coody opened with a first round 66 for a 3 shot lead. He remained in the lead entering the final round but was expected to lose to co-leader Jack Nicklaus who had won the 1971 PGA Championship two months earlier. The event turned into a 3-way battle between Coody, Nicklaus, and a young Johnny Miller who was playing his first Masters as a professional. Coody made a birdie on the 15th and a clutch 15-foot putt on the 16th for another birdie. He made pars on the last two and won by two strokes.

Coody had his share of success after his Masters victory. He represented the United States for the only time in the 1971 Ryder Cup. He finished 5th at the 1971 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. He would win two events on the fledgling European Tour in 1973. He also had chances to win additional majors at the 1976 PGA Championship and 1977 PGA Championship. In 1976 he held a two stroke lead entering the final round before finishing with a 77. The following year, at Pebble Beach, he finished two strokes out of a playoff, shooting a 73 in the final round.

However, his Masters triumph did not serve as a catalyst for Coody to become one of the greats in the game. In fact, while he posted nine top-3 finishes through the 1970s and early 1980s, he never won on the PGA Tour again. Coody would play full-time on the PGA Tour until he reached his late 40s.

When he turned 50, Coody played on the Senior PGA Tour with a good amount of success, winning five times. Like most Masters winners, Coody played the Masters Tournament through his old age. He retired from active competition at the 2006 event having played 38 of the last 39 Masters.

Coody was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. A college golf tournament, the Charles Coody West Texas Intercollegiate, is named for him. He also lends his name to a charity event, the Charles Coody Classic.