August 19, 2009

After Winning His Seventh Tournament In Greensboro, Sam Snead Was Invited to Not Come Back

In 1960, after golfing legend Sam Snead had won the Greater Greensboro Open (now the Wyndham Championship) for the seventh time, he was handed a check for $2,800 and a microphone to address the fans who stayed to watch the awards ceremony. What happened next is a part of golfing lore.

Snead, who always had a reputation for being blunt and direct when something was on his mind, started by telling Starmount president Edward Benjamin that he needed to do something about his "lousy" golf course. Snead was hardly done after he hurled that one brickbat, as for several minutes, the Slammer explained in great detail his complaints about Starmount, concluding that "big name golfers" would avoid the GGO in the future if "something wasn't done."

Benjamin, clearly insulted to the core, replied to reporters afterward that "I regard as sheer affrontery the statements made by Snead about the Starmount Forest Country Club golf course and the thing the statements reveal that the man has been in the limelight too much."

Benjamin then went further, disinviting Snead from playing at any further events at Starmount. "Although the Greater Greensboro Open is conducted by the Junior Chamber of Commerce and not by the Starmount Forest Country Club in any sense, I for one would be happy if Snead did his golfing elsewhere."

Today, the official site of the Wyndham Championship states that Starmount was in poor condition that year due to a harsh winter. While that may strictly be true, Snead's comments included this: "they have not done a thing to this course since I started coming here [in the 1930's]." It was clear that Sam Snead was not talking about a course ravaged by cold weather, instead, his ire was clearly pointed towards the ongoing upkeep and evolution of Starmount generally.

The next year, 1961, the GGO was played at Sedgefield Country Club, a Donald Ross course in another part of Greensboro.

And Starmount? It is still open, and is located at One Sam Snead Drive, in the Gate City.


  1. I wonder if anybody asked Snead later that if he despised the course so much - since the 30's - why would he keep coming back ? And if the course was so bad - how did he manage to win 7 times on such a dog track - was he just lucky ?

    Great story !!

  2. Court, the answer is probably similar to Yogi Berra's classic: "Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore, it's always too crowded..."

    I don't think they had 36 events each year back then and if there was a tournament somewhere or ANYWHERE, the caravan of pros found it and played in it, regardless of the 'aesthetics'. It is strange Snead would knock a course he had so much success on.

  3. Charles,

    Do you have an email address I can use to send you something? Mine is


  4. Very true, Vince. But doesn't that, then, beg the questions "why bite the hand that feeds you ?"


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