In Impromptus today, I say a little about golf — Obama’s golf, Quayle’s golf, a movie or two. (Golf movies, I mean.) I also mention Marty Russo, the onetime congressman from Chicago, a Democrat. (Pardon the redundancy.) It used to be said that he was the best golfer in Washington — nearly scratch.
A reader sent the below letter, which I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did:
Good morning, Jay:
Your column brought me back to my part-time job during law school. I caddied at Burning Tree Club in Bethesda, Md. (the male-only redoubt for Washington’s high and mighty). It was a great way to make some cash, get some exercise on a beautiful golf course, play that course on Monday mornings, and, of course, meet fascinating characters: members, their guests, and the other caddies.
I did not know Marty Russo, but I can say that I caddied for Sen. Sam Nunn in the rain and watched him shoot 69. His golf game was like his legislating, thoughtful and precise. And he putted with one of those Basakwerd putters.
My other favorite congressional golfer was Sen. Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming. He was an accomplished player, who I am told won state amateur tournaments, and fierce Cold Warrior. My favorite recollection is that one day, after I had caddied for him, as I was leaving the course, I realized that I had locked my keys in the car. Senator Wallop was leaving at the same time and saw my problem. He offered me a ride home. This was about 1987, and as we passed the Soviet compound in Glover Park, he looked over and just said, “You know, I hate those bastards, I really do.”
Fairways and greens . . .
Sam Nunn, who knew? My respect is greatly increased (though I’m not sure those putters were legal). And Malcolm Wallop! I always loved to see him on television — MacNeil-Lehrer and so on. He was an aristo who somehow represented Wyoming. As I recall, he had a relationship with the British royal family. Wonderful Cold Warrior, SDI-er. Yes, he hated the Sovs, mightily — had their number. I often wished he could have a high-level cabinet position.
Sam Nunn — an ace golfer? I’m still reeling. Very cool. Like Hale Irwin, he gives hope to golfers with glasses . . .