The world of golf lost a legend this past week with the passing of John Bentley Wright.
Who may be asking? Better known as Ben Wright, the man lived one hell of a life:
- Newspaperman, golf correspondent and a very good golfer (a 2-handicap)
- Novelist, golf course designer and storyteller supreme right to the end
- Worked on CBS golf telecasts for 23 year, ending controversially in 1996
- Always entertaining television commentator (nd on-air muse for Gary McCord)
- Played himself, as an announcer, on Tin Cup in 1996
- Eventually replaced at CBS by David Feherty (famously at Augusta’s 15th hole)
In a career full of highlights best known for his work on CBS telecasts, here are a handful of Wright’s life nuggets that we enjoy regaling (there is a treasure trove online):
- He actually coined the first “Yes, Sir!” at the Masters in 1986, however, it has been obscured by Uncle Vern Lundquist’s iconic call of Jack’s snaking birdie on the 17th that day
- His thoughts on Johnny Miller - “"He's terribly self-centered."
- Speaking of slow play, on a telecast in 1983 during a particularly slow round, the CBS cameras panned to some ducks in a pond - without missing a beat, he noted “When this round began, those were eggs.”
Wright also had some interesting links to some golf history:
- He was at Carnoustie in '53 (stationed nearby on military service) and watched Hogan win The Open
- he was summoned to Bobby Jones' deathbed so the legend could question him about a column he wrote about the slowness of play in the sport
It isn’t all rainbows and lollipops, though, as his tenure with CBS ended in 1996 after comments he made about female golfers during an LPGA tournament in Wilmington, Delware.
While his thoughts on LPGA players, their physical attributes impeding their swings and other unseemly stuff ultimately cost him his job, he didn’t hold a grudge and clearly went on enjoying his life to the very end.
Much like his countryman, Peter Aliss, there will never be another like him, and golf is worse off for it. RIP Bentley.