Yale Golf Team Coach 1954-70
Interview on February 19, 2006 with his son, Al Wilson
Interview (22 mins)
Al Wilson was a tool and dye maker by trade, but he served as the freshman soccer coach at Yale from 1950 to 1960. In 1954, when Joe Sullivan, the golf team coach, left to become the professional to Racebrook Country Club, all the coaches were asked if who would be willing to take over the golf coach. Wilson was the only volunteer. He became certified as a PGA Professional by apprenticing to Sam Snead (by telephone!) over a 2-year period. The one time Snead visited Yale, he cut his round short after being reprimanded by Harry Meusel for taking a wedge shot on the 9th green and after playing the 10th poorly.
Wilson’s teams compiled a 90+% winning record (W-136, L-14). In 1963, he was elected president of the NCAA Golf Coaches Association. Among the well-known people who played the course during his time were Ed Sullivan, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, George Bayer, Porky Oliver, and Ken Venturi. Al had his son caddy for all these players. Porly Oliver for one didn’t like the course, telling Al’s son that “the guy must have been drunk who designed this.” Some of the players that son Al ran into weren’t so well known. There was, for instance, a foursome of bookies who came up from New York City every year with their own caddies, who carried a bag and a cooler of beer for each player. When the caddies returned the bags to the trunk of the car Al saw a Thompson sub-machine gun there. In 1964 Ken Venturi won the US Open at Congressional and Al Wilson won the bidding on the courtesy car [T-Bird convertible] that he had used. Both his son and grandson work in golf course maintenance.