First Editions: Stories from an original subscriber

Tuesday August 4th, 2009
Something old, something new...
Courtesy of Molly Wilkerson

It was April, 1959. I was 14 years old and standing at the magazine rack in a drugstore in Charleston, W. Va., trying to decide between Road & Track and Sports Car Graphic. That's when I saw him: sweet-swinging Samuel Jackson Snead, with his trademark straw hat, on the cover of a brandnew magazine simply titled GOLF. I'd get the other magazines later. I had to have this one! I still have that copy.

Lordy! Fifty years is old in the magazine business. I eventually convinced my dad to front me the money for a subscription, since it would obviously be an investment in my game. I've learned over the years that it helps to call it an "investment" when you want to slide something like a new Callaway FT-9 driver by your wife. But be careful, because it could backfire with her "investments" at the mall.

I come from a family of rabid golfers, and I still subscribe, though I did closet the sticks for a while. Why? I found it's difficult to transfer your weight to your front side when your ex-wife's lawyer has you by the cojones.

No, I'm not bitter. [Laughs]

I enjoy comparing that first issue to today's issues, to see what's changed in 50 years. In '59, Sam Snead's driver is in full view on the cover — it's so old, the head cover has worn the finish off the heel. Contrast that to Camilo Villegas telling us that the oldest stick in his bag, his putter, is a year-and-a-half old.

What's my handicap? Honesty. Okay, okay, you can put me down for 11. I once shot a 73. Then, on the backside...

Golf Magazine still manages to teach me things. Last year, Stewart Cink said for more power, widen your stance. It worked! Well, actually, I'm not sure I got longer, but I did start hitting it straighter. So that's something. The bottom line is, you have a marvelous magazine, and I've enjoyed all 50 years of it. With each passing year, my swing evokes more moans and groans, but I keep swinging. My great aunt Susan B. Everett was still playing at 90. If I make it that far, it will be your 75th. You'll be here. I hope I am, too.

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