At its annual meeting in Las Vegas the Professional Golfers' Association announced that its pro golf tour had hit a $3,500,000 jackpot. This is the sum, a whopping 27% more than was offered in 1964, that tournament sponsors, thanks in part to a 13-tournament television contract the PGA has just signed with Sports Network Inc., will put up in prize money during 1965. Long an outdoor adjunct of show business, the pro tour is now beginning to pay like show business. As with vaudeville, however, some of the old acts are being forced out. The first one to go, not surprisingly, is the Poor Boy Open, the event staged by Oil Millionaire Waco Turner at his lodge in Burneyville, Okla. (SI, May 11) while the rich boys were playing at the Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas. Piqued by talk that his tournament might be given "unofficial" status and by golfers who, in the midst of their new prosperity, imagined they were doing him a favor to show up, Waco abruptly yanked his event off the calendar.
"Golf is too fine a game to be subjected to some of the commercialism it now suffers." said the crusty, rustic Waco. "It is unfortunate, but money has become more important in golf than the game itself. Perhaps some of professional golf's leaders will reexamine the entire picture and bring it back into focus."
Perhaps they will. But then again, perhaps all the leaders are caught in a stampede to the bank.
BOOM ON THE BOOT
Since television abandoned boxing in the United States there has been some improvement, but nothing too exciting, in live gate attendance at the few arenas which present fight cards. In Italy, on the other hand, the sport is booming. Every other Friday night 18,000 fans fill Rome's magnificent Palazzo dello Sport, paying up to $16 (and more to scalpers) per seat. At last week's junior middleweight title fight between the world champion, Sandro Mazzinghi, and Fortunato Manca, 4,000 of the crowd had journeyed from Sardinia to make sure that Manca, a fellow Sardinian, was treated justly. He lost a close decision, but it seemed fair, and there was no riot.
It was, as usual, a capacity house. Mazzinghi's purse was $8,400 plus a percentage of the $72,000 gate, which brought his total take to more than $11,000. Manca was paid $2,600. By way of comparison the four junior middleweight world title fights put on in the U.S. in 1962-63 attracted between 2,500 and 5,000 spectators each and no gate got as high as $30,000.
Few of us, if any, cross the continent by canoe these days. The jets are so much faster. But in case anyone is thinking of it he can count on Canada's Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources for help. All across the 3,000-mile canoe route once traversed by fur traders and explorers the department is putting up signs to point the way for the modern voyageur. They show a black "north canoe" and bear the words, "Historic Trans- Canada Canoe Route." You can't miss it.
The high-ended north canoe was manned by five or six paddlers, whereas the Montreal canoe, or canot de ma�tre, which carried up to three tons of cargo, required 10 or more husky men. Some 150 years ago, in the heyday of the Montreal fur trade, brigades of Montreal canoes would set out early each May from Lachine, Que., to rendezvous eight weeks later at the head of Lake Superior with men who had paddled from Lake Athabaska and other inland points in the lighter north canoes. There the Montrealers received furs in exchange for other goods before turning back east. The north canoes would return to the interior and west, some of them crossing the Continental Divide.
In those days it was the fastest way to cross Canada. Then, in 1885, everything was spoiled. The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed.