NCGA Golf

Summer 2019

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28 SUMMER 2019 | NCGA.ORG So, essentially, McMullin connected the generations – from Bateman in the 1950s to Trainer in the 21st century. Don Baucom also was one of Bate's Boys. Baucom, a longtime teaching pro in the Sacramento area (and PGA Champi- ons Tour pro Kevin Sutherland's instructor the past 30 years), grew up in Oakland and has known McMullin since they were teenagers. McMullin embraced golf fairly late, as Baucom recalled, at about 16. His swing was long and erratic. McMullin used a driver with a nail in the shaft, taped together to hold on the club head because he didn't have enough money to buy a new driver, according to Baucom. Baucom told Bateman, "If you can make a golfer out of him, you're something else." And then with his Yoda-like ways, Bateman did exactly that: He shortened McMullin's swing and helped turn him into a premier ball striker. "This guy hit it so straight, it was crazy," Baucom said. "I don't remember seeing John play out of the rough. … The club made a different sound when he hit the ball." McMullin enjoyed abundant success as an amateur, including victories in the 1953 NCGA Junior Championship and the '55 Western Intercollegiate. As a pro, he won the 1958 Hesperia Open Invita- tional in the high desert of San Bernardino County, finished second at the Tijuana Open Invitational in '59 and posted several other top-10s on the PGA Tour. McMullin missed the cut in his one Masters and two U.S. Open starts. His best finish in a major came at the 1959 PGA Championship (won by San Francisco native Bob Rosburg), when he tied for 35th. All these years later, there's no mystery about why McMullin couldn't sustain his early success. He developed the yips—yep, he still uses that forbidden four-letter word today—referring to the involuntary loss of control that affects a player's nerves on short putts. He tried all sorts of putting styles, from the claw grip to sidesaddle to placing the handle on his forearm, but he never regained his touch on the greens. "I went from being one of the best putters to one of the worst putters," McMullin said. Before long, he returned to the Bay Area and launched his second career as a club pro. He lived in the East Bay and com- muted to Palo Alto for about 40 years, until diminishing eyesight made the drive too difficult. Trainer took lessons from McMullin

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