Golf in the Kingdom at The Mare

Snuck out for a late afternoon round today. It was beautiful with a nice wind coming off the bay… played nicely hitting the first 7 greens and a couple birdies. After giving a couple back on 8 and 11, I played solid coming in just hitting greens and making pars putting me square with old man par teeing off on 18. I like beating the old man.

Out of seemingly nowhere, two older gents pull up in cart… apparently they were skipping a few holes to get in before sunset.

The first gent shouts to his buddy… hey look at this guy… he’s using persimmon! The tall guy starts walking over and says… is that a Tommy Armour? I said no… its a Tony Penna. Assuming they are just two amateurs, I show them the difference between the lie angles of mine and their frying pans. About 15 degree difference. I give them a brief lecture on the virtues of flatter lie angles for both power and control.

The tall guy says "I haven’t seen anyone hit persimmon in a while. Half kidding, I promised them I would out drive them both by 40 yards… Making such a claim, I felt the need to hit one really solid,which I did, absolutely piped down the middle. They both hit, and I was just that. 40 yards by them.

The tall guy then tells me he has over 3000 vintage golf clubs in his garage. I raise an eyebrow of course! He decides to walk down the fairway with me… and we chat some more. By the time I get to my ball we have talked about M85’s VFQ’s, LFF’s, ceramic faces, Propel #1 shafts that I was playing today… R 20 and R 90’s and what kind of grain we like on our persimmons. I hit a 5 iron right at the stick, but it’s a slight blind shot up the hill…

The tall guy then starts to tell me how he used to play on the PGA Tour in the 1960’s and 70’s, and won the US National Long Drive Championship in 1973 beating Jim Dent and Mike Austin. He was also the pro at Pasa Tiempo in the 1960’s and is a member and golf teacher with the Shivas Irons Society and the Esalen Institute that was founded by Micheal Murphy who most would know as the author of Golf in the Kingdom. He and Micheal are close friends. I was telling him how much I liked George Knudson’s golf swing, and as we crested the knoll I could see my ball right next to the hole about a foot away. He then told me about how he finished 8th in the Canadian Open one year, it was his best finish on tour. And he had played with George.

I tapped in my birdie to beat old man par for the day :wink: , and Johnny Allen suggested I come and have a visit of his vintage club library. It sounds a lot deeper than mine. He even said he might have a few extra propels I might need to finish out a set of Mac 945 Custom grind split soles I have.

It was the best two shots I had ever put together on the tough 18th at Mare. It’s not a hole you see birdies on often… yet alone kick ins. It was almost as if some kind of Shivas guide showed up out of nowhere as the sun was setting to play the 18th with me today. On another strange note, he lives just a few blocks from me, and has a canyon in his backyard that he uses as a driving range. Turns out, it’s the next canyon over, and we laughed, because we both wait for the goats to come and mow the grass, them we pick up our balls twice a year. The direction I aim my drives off the deck basically aims right at his house. Something was in the air tonight.

1 Like

What a wonderful story Lag! I didn’t know it was possible to hit 2 better shots into the 18th at the Mare (no pushover I can assure everyone!) than you did when we played on my visit last December, but happy to hear that you managed it nonetheless :smiley: I wonder whether Johnny is actually the guy that you had heard a rumour about locally…you know the one who had a few thousand vintage clubs but only opened up his house / store (?) very ocassionally by appointment? Anyway if you do get a viewing and he has any deep faced beauties like a Mac LFF or a Penna JS that he is happy to part with let me know. I would love to have you flatten one of those for me one day :sunglasses:

Cheers, Arnie

I’m going to ring him tomorrow… and hopefully have a look around. He didn’t sound all that opposed to parting with stuff.
The guy with the shop in Vallejo… well, he knew all about him… and said that he might be the only guy who has more stuff than he does. We both laughed, because his store is never open… but the sign is up. I guess it’s by appointment only. I have been in there before and bought a couple things off him.

Anyway… the last time such a mystical round happened was probably the 66 shot with you and Macs at Lincoln in the cold rain, wind…with that “in the dark” chip in on the 18th… and the holed wedge shot for the eagle on #2.

Maybe it’s the rarity of such events that make them seem so 4th dimensional.

Great story.

Talk about Magic Moments. That story literally gave me goose bumps. And can there be a better place for his old clubs to to go than to you ?

I am wondering what Johnny Allen must have thought from his side of the experience, it had to have been just as magical, possibly more so.

I love this photo. You can just feel the leg strength and ground pressures just looking at it.
We had a fun time talking gear again yesterday, and it might be a good interview to do at some point.

He told me a hilarious story about a dog running onto the green in the Bermuda Open while playing with Chi Chi,
and the dog scooped up his ball in it’s mouth and started running away with it… and Johnny was a rookie, and Chi Chi tells Johnny, “you better catch that dog before he runs out of bounds” so Johnny goes running after the dog all over the course in circles, and the guys are having a laugh, because it’s not really a penalty… if the dog runs out of bounds.

The way he told it was just hysterical. Better than Caddy Shack or Happy Gilmore I’m sure.

Now that could have backfired on you, being as he was the 1973 Long drive champion. :astonished:

Great story.

Certainly could have!

Fortunately it all worked out and I am glad to be the one who bought some of his most prized persimmons as John was apparently going to liquidate all his extra gear in the next couple of weeks. They have fallen into safe caring hands!

He is going to keep one really really pure set of blades and persimmons, and we are going to set up a game soon, and we’ll get Barkow out there also for a really good time!

1 Like

That was a terrific story, lagpressure.

Golf poetry.

Great picture of Mr. Allen. What a stud. Cool hair too.

Thats a great story Lag. Amazing you would hook up with guys like that. Destiny for sure.

I was just back over Johnny Allen’s the other day, and we had a great chat and were checking out his new putting green in his yard and discussing putting concepts. Such a deep well of knowledge there… nothing but inspiration.

He’ll be great to have on the ABS Radio Show at some point. Just some fantastic stories playing golf through the golden age.

A friend of mine gave me a copy of ‘Golf in The Kingdom’ a few days ago, and I just finished it. I was impressed with it a lot more than I expected. I’m wary of those sort of golf mysticism books by so-so golfers, but I found it to be a much further reaching read than just golf. In fact, it didn’t really effect me as a book about golf for the most part. I was almost going to pack it in during the golf round scene at the start because it was kind of annoying, and seemed to be fulfilling my fear of what it was going to be like, but I’m really glad I didn’t. There’s lots of wisdom in it, as well as suggestions for further reading on the different subjects he talks about. It struck a few chords with me I’d say.
Does anyone who’s read it know if there’s any truth to the characters in it, or are they complete fiction?

It’s a work of fiction… although Murphy had been over to Scotland to play golf which inspired the work. They apparently just released a movie version of it a few months ago. I was invited to the premier but couldn’t work it into my schedule at the time. I have yet to see it. It’s probably touring the indie film circuit.

I think some of it was shot at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. … ovie.shtml

For those that don’t know… Murphy also founded the Esalen Institute in Big Sur California

Esalen is a pretty amazing place, the properly hangs off the epic cliffs of Big Sur, which is about an hour south of the Monterey Peninsula. He’s a pretty serious guy about this kinda stuff. I’ve been on the property, it’s pretty amazing for those who can afford it. You have to pay big $$$$$ for spirituality right? For those who can afford it… highly recommended.


Maybe I’ll give it another go then. I started listening to one of them (either that or Shiva Irons), but it didn’t grab me. Incidentally, I’m sure you’ll have seen ‘Peaceful Warrior’ but if not, try to grab it (or the novel). One of those movies I think about years later.

i read about a dozen pages & put it down too - think i’ll give it another whirl as well then

Murphy does his best writing when he’s contemplating existence and it’s meanings, I really liked his flow and also the ideas he pondered. And he’s very convincing as Shivas’ voice(I don’t mean accent) and character, which is what made me wonder whether it was all fiction or not. The other characters too, in fact. He’s a good writer, I may have to check out his other stuff. Like I was saying, I took myself out of the simple perspective of it being about golf, which I suppose is the gist of the whole book. He also pays tribute to James Joyce(among many others)which pretty much ensures you’re a good egg in my world, and that you’ve probably thought a few things through. Joyce’s idea of the universal existing in the particular, which is the basic essence of Ulysses, is very much running through this book. I’m going to read it again actually. It’s nice to get more out of a book than you expected. I must thank 1teebox for the heads up and recommendation. Has anyone read The Kingdom of Shivas Irons? Worth a read?
The other thing I was going to say is that I don’t do well with audio books for some reason- I reckon they impose too much onto the material, especially with a book like that where a lot of it is written in an accent. It becomes a sort of play that you’re listening to instead of a book that you’re reading, if you know what I mean.
That Peaceful Warrior is a Dan Millman book, right? I really liked his Body Mind Mastery(I did bit about it in another thread) I must check it out…

Cheers, Lag… you could tell it was fiction but he was quite convincing with a few of the tales… I wonder how the movie will be…