Hale Irwin & The 58th PGA Championship by Bill Bernard



Hale Irwin and the Chiquita Banana sponsors

By: Bill Bernard

The summer prior to the 58th PGA Championship, played at Congressional Country Club.   In 1976, the club members were able to watch many professionals play practice rounds on the championship course (Blue Course).   Many of these opportunities were not announced and word would spread fast when a golf celebrity was sighted. I was ten years old at the time and my parents were avid golfers and members. On a rainy Monday afternoon, my guess in late May or early June, my mother and I watched Hale Irwin tackle many of the holes on the back nine of Congressional. It was a wet day, with wind, and bit cool …I remember Hale was wearing a blue rain suit.

The Chiquita Banana Duffers

The funniest memory from our soggy outing (we stayed back a few yards to give him some privacy) were his sponsors that were tagging along.  They were the Chiquita Banana people who flat-out COULD NOT PLAY GOLF.  I remember telling my mom that I scored better on number 10 than the four Chiquita players. Later that summer, Hale played his way into contention on the second or third day of the tournament, and my mom and I still giggle whether he could have performed better had the banana people been able to swing a golf club. Perhaps by playing with the Chiquita Banana representatives in turn, Irwin got worse and eventually blew up in the actual event the next summer.  Irwin was on the leaderboard early in 58th PGA Championship but fizzled down the leaderboard as he finished T-34th.

The 58th PGA Championship was eventually won by Dave Stockton.  Stockton won with a score of +1 and a aggregate of 281.

Do you have a memory to share of your own? Golf is such a long and storied sport than needs to be shared… You can easily contribute here.

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