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Thursday, January 28, 2010
John Wooden: golfer, stadium-builder

By Diamond Leung

At age 99, John Wooden has a century's worth of stories to tell, and two of them recently surfaced about the legendary man who coached UCLA to 10 national championships.

Have you heard about Wooden the golfer? The Los Angeles Times reports that he was only four golfers in history to make a hole in one and a double eagle in the same round:
"I used a 4-iron for the hole in one," Wooden said from his home in Encino. "It was about 185 yards. Then I made the two on the par five on the back. Used a brassie."

A brassie was the rough equivalent of a 2-wood.

Wooden said he kept the card and has it stored somewhere. He said he remembers the local paper running a little story the next day. He also retains his typical self-effacing humor about this feat.

"I shot a 77 that day," he said. "You go five under on two holes and a 77 doesn't look all that good."

How about Wooden the stadium builder? Wooden is old enough to have been recruited by Phog Allen, who put him to work, according to the Lawrence Journal-World:
While recruiting Wooden, an Indiana native, to play at KU, Phog extended an open invitation for John to come to Kansas during the summer if he ever needed a job, like working in the wheat harvests. Kids did that then. Wooden said that during the summer of 1927 between his junior and senior years in high school, he came here with friends figuring they’d be harvesters.

They got here too early, before the crops matured, and figured they’d have to go home empty-handed. Talent-conscious Phog took the crew over to Memorial Stadium, where, beginning that year, work had begun adding the north end zone (which detractors called “Phog’s Folly”). Wooden and his buddies were put to work pouring concrete into the foundation for the new addition. Wooden proudly told Mark Allen, “You see, I helped build that football stadium of yours.”