Travels with Cram

By: Bob Spiwak

Bob Cram, TV personality emeritus and cartoonist extraordinaire, may not be a familiar name to anyone who cannot name the Marx Brothers. But for those who can and are familiar with the lanky storyteller, I'd like to share a bit of not-so-ancient history. Cram always has an anecdote to tell, with himself usually the butt of the humor.

In the late '90s as a writer for Golfweek, I was invited to partake of an inaugural golf cruise to island in Hawaii aboard the SS Independence. I could bring a guest for the first-class outing where a primo course on each of several islands would be played. I chose Bob as my guest.

We met on the dock in Honolulu and immediately discovered there were several other Bobs in the contingent. Once underway, we established a system of identification, with each Bob having a distinctive first name. Thus, I was Bob-Bob, Cram was Tall-Bob, Barbara was Barb-Bob (she did not want to be excluded), and I forget the others.

Also aboard were two professional golfers for lessons and, among others, a self-described psychologist who knew as much about golf as Josef Stalin. But he gave lectures on positive thinking. Among his key points to the attendees, mainly weekend hackers, was always be positive and when you hit a good shot, raise your arms and shout YES!! He was unaware that this is not what one does on a golf course and, even when so informed, did not depart from his proselytizing.

We named him "Doctor Yes," and as we plied around Kapalua shouts of "YES!" were heard continually.

I was finding the trip boring and, if I mentioned this, someone would tell me just wait for the Molokai Straits, renowned for its extremely rough water.

Meanwhile, to ease the boredom, Cram and I would from time to time go to our companionway and have a putting contest, a dime a shot. Now Bob insists that I got him into golf. I deny this because at times he can be terrible. But as a putter he was superb and took a lot of dimes from me, gauging the list of the ship with the break of the putt.

To his everlasting credit we were putting when we went through the Molokai Straits and, despite a bit more rocking of the vessel, he continued his winning ways. On the courses, however, his named changed from Tall Bob to Bunker Bob because of a proclivity to find sand traps.

It was at Princeville on Kauai where we had a brief rain delay. In a shelter were four carts and eight people gathered before we teed off. After I had an okay drive, Cram got up, performed a bit for the crowd and then became serious and hit his shot. It was a banana ball that disappeared out-of-bounds and into the jungle. After a few shouts of "YES!" he teed up another ball and the same thing happened. En masse, the crowd shouted even louder "YES!!"

Well, he was steamed now and too quickly hit his third ball off the tee - and topped it. Away it went, bippety-bippety-bop along the ground and over the ravine before us. The crowd went wild, with multiple "YES!" cries.

Before the cheers subsided, Cram took a baseball stance and, whooosh-whoosh-whoosh like a helicopter rotor, his golf club followed the ball. The cries of "YES!" grew deafening.

Bunker Bob recovered his composure before we reached the green, laughed, and voiced another vow to never play this &*#%$ing game again.

This is only one of the many hilarious (mis)adventures with Mr. Cram, whom I love to this day.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultra-private Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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