Lincoln Roden III

Lincoln Roden III
1952 team captain

“Linc” Roden (Class of 1952) took up golf at age thirteen in 1944 at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. In 1948 he was the Regional Medalist in the usga Junior Championship and Philadelphia Amateur Champion in 1949 and 1950. At Yale he was a member of the 1951 Eastern Intercollegiate Champion team, as well as the Individual Eastern Intercollegiate Champion. In the summer of 1950 he had the good fortune to attend the US Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania and stand next to Hy Peskin, when Peskin took the classic black and white photograph know as the “Hogan One Iron.” That story is best told in Roden’s own words, from his book Golf’s Golden Age 1945–1954, published in 1995.

In the history of golf, a few US Opens stand out as even more momentous than the others. One was the victory of Ouimet over the legendary and invincible Vardon and Ray in 1913. The 1930 victory by Bob Jones was part of his incredible Grand Slam. The 1960 Open at Cherry Hills, which saw the changing of the guard, was won by Arnold Palmer with his last round 65. The 1980 Open at Baltusrol, the brilliant and emotional victory of Jack Nicklaus in a record 272, is a legend. But, the 1950 Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore,Pennsylvania, may be the greatest of all. I’m going to tell you about this Open as I saw it and as we thought about it ….

As the back nine of the last round began we picked up Hogan. He had been even par 36 going out, and he was among the leaders, but he was obviously exhausted and as the back nine wore on, strokes were slipping away …. Hogan played a long iron to the front edge of 17, short of the steep rise. Three shots later his cushion was gone, and we knew he had to par 18 to get into a playoff. On 18, Hogan’s drive split the middle. Bob and I rushed to a point right behind his ball. Hogan faced a shot of a little over 200 yards. He had a downhill lie with a slight right to left factor. There was a deep fairway swale short of the green, and the green was crowned. The pin was on the right side almost behind the left edge of the right greenside bunker. Hogan took out a long iron and hit a perfect shot for the center of the green. It landed in the swale and bounded up on the front third of the green. Immediately pandemonium broke loose as everyone raced toward the green. Two putts later Hogan had tied for the Open at 287, seven over par, with Mangrum and George Fazio! … Subsequently we heard that Hogan had been fighting leg cramps the whole last nine.

Hogan’s long iron to the 18th green, his 36th of the day, must stand as one of the greatest shots of all time …. We thought it was a 2-iron. We then heard it was a 1-iron, but we didn’t believe it. We didn’t think it was possible to get a one iron up that well off the downhill lie …. After Hogan hit his great shot there was a mad gallery rush down the fairway. Someone stole Hogan’s 1-iron. Years later it resurfaced and now resides in theUSGAMuseum in Golf House …. Hogan won the 18 hole playoff with a 69 to Mangrum’s 73 and Fazio’ 75.

After Linc Roden captained the 1952 golf team and was runner-up in the Eastern Intercollegiate Individual Championship, he served in the Korean War. In 1954, after returning from Korea, he was the Regional Medalist and reached the fourth round of the US Amateur, won by Arnold Palmer. Since then, his avocation has been golf as a player, writer, and advocate for the classic game. He has been responsible for the restoration of the abandoned (for more than fifty years) third nine at his club, Huntingdon Valley Country Club, where he recently shot 69. In a 2001 interview, he talked about his support for classical course maintenance and playing conditions.

The ultimate standards and the ultimate enjoyment of golf occur when the fairways and greens are really hard, and when only shots struck with the proper shape and maximum spin will stay in the fairways or stick on the greens!

But, even with proper conditions there is the problem of the modern ball flying so far. In the interview he addressed that problem.
How can we restore the standards the great architects intended without adding too much extra yardage to the great old courses?

It is tragic that the powers that be have allowed the great distance increases which make so many of our great courses obsolete and which so reduce the ‘standard of play’ the architects intended. The only practical approach, it seems to me, is to develop a golf ball which travels about as far as Hogan’s ’48 distances when hit by the very best players with today’s ­equipment.

This can best be done under the auspices of the USGA, but many have suggested this idea and the USGA has not moved. Perhaps one of the golf ball manufacturers will take the ­initiative.

Our ‘Classic’ ball would have to have reduced distance and perhaps some limit on spin rates or dimple patterns. Perhaps the ball should have the old widely used dimple pattern.

Max Behr and Donald Ross proposed the same thing in the early twentieth century, and the issue remains a lightening rod for debate. In 2007, the first question put to the new chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, Billy Payne, was how he would preserve the integrity and competitiveness of Augusta when equipment rendered it defenseless. His answer was that a Masters-only ball was being considered.

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