We were on the 7th hole. I had chipped up to about 3 feet from the hole. Jackie, that would be my friend, Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan, the “Wall Street Journal” heiress, was a little farther out.
I said “a three-foot putt is a tragedy. Only one good thing out of four possibilities can happen. You can come up short, go long, drift off or make it.” My short game was never stellar, and I was speaking to myself as much as to Jackie.
“There’s nothing to it” Jackie said. “You peer at the middle of the hole and put it there. The ball doesn’t have time to do anything else. It’s only three feet.”
That seemed a simple solution, and indeed, it always seemed to work for Jackie. She was great around the green. But for me, the short game was a struggle no matter how much I practiced. Perhaps, it was psychological. Perhaps, I thought about it too much.
Not Jackie, for her, in life or in golf, everything was reduced from a complicated state to its most simplistic form. Things just didn’t have to be that complicated, not even a three-foot putt. It’s quite nice playing golf with someone with such an attitude. Jackie and I played such fantastic mountain courses as Alto Lakes Golf and Country Club, Rainmaker Golf Course located at the Kokopelli Country Club, and the public course at Ruidoso, New Mexico, The Links at Sierra Blanca. There, in the thin, clean, crisp mountain air it’s a thrill to watch the ball carry, but in the end, it still gets down to how good is your short game.
At her invitation and over several years, we played in totally different landscapes and altitude at clubs in Indian Wells and Palm Springs, California. Each course presented us with different challenges and constant surprises. Through them all, I do not recall Jackie ever getting ruffled or out-of-sorts. Regardless of altitude, course length, or course skill requirements, her game was always the same, controlled and designed for efficiency. Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan (“Jackie”) was a good golfer, and she loved the game.
I write of Jackie’s life and her golf game, among more trying life issues that she faced in my book: “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”