It was the most impressive Masters streak of all.
That’s the number of Masters tournaments that Dan Jenkins covered.
He’s gone and there’s a huge hole in the writing universe. Dan dominated golf with his words and wit. There was no one quite like him and there will never be another.
His Ownself is gone but his spirit remains in all of us who knew him.
Bill Fields recently wrote a great piece to capture the mystic of Jenkins and his long run at The Masters, it starts like this:
When Dan Jenkins covered his first Masters Tournament, Harry Truman was president of the United States, a loaf of bread cost 16 cents, Perry Como topped the charts and Jack Nicklaus was 11 years old.
It was 1951. Jenkins was a 22-year-old Texas Christian University student and golf-team member moonlighting as a sportswriter for his hometown newspaper, The Fort Worth Press. His beat essentially was Ben Hogan, a native son, who made Jenkins’ maiden journey to Georgia a memorable one with a two-stroke victory.
“The press tent was indeed a tent and open at two sides to catch the breezes,” Jenkins said in 2018 of the first time he reported from Augusta National. “Table-model typewriters were provided, but you brought along your own portable in case the one at your assigned seat wasn’t worth the struggle. Light bulbs dangled from the ceiling above. A crowded row of Western Union operators was on hand to send your stories, often turning them into puzzles in their haste. You kept a carbon copy to use when calling the office to clean things up. Almost everybody smoked every waking moment.”
I remember the old Quonset hut press building. It was still in use in the 70s. The merchandise was sold out of a very large tent.
Things seemed so much simpler then.
Everything now is 22nd Century chic. The Masters has become so big that its virtually impossible to maneuver on the weekends. Even back in the day, they watched it on television in the press building.
But one of the experiences I’d always look forward to was seeing Dan Jenkins.
And it was at an Augusta watering hole in 1978 that my moment happened. Jenkins was there with Pat Summerall, former Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and a bunch of other celebs from the day. I was close by with a few guys from Tampa. Jenkins stepped forward from his group, looked at me, waved and said — “Hey Tom, how are you?”
At that moment, the guys from Tampa went nuts and told me that I had made it to the bigtime.
I didn’t think so at all.
But what I did know is that somehow, some way — Dan Jenkins actually remembered my name!
He is and will be missed this week.
He was a writer unto his ownself — I loved his writing, envied his wit and talent.
And always will.