FORT WORTH, Texas — Dan Jenkins, the sports writing great and best-selling author whose career covered Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods, began with Western Union and ended with Twitter, died Thursday at 89.
“The message on my tombstone will be, ‘I knew this would happen,’” Jenkins always said, exemplifying the trenchant humor he brought to the 232 major championships he attended, starting with the 1941 U.S. Open at Colonial as a 12-year-old in his hometown.
Jenkins began his career at the Fort Worth Press and rose to stardom at Sports Illustrated with his two loves, college football and golf. He also wrote for Playboy and joined Golf Digest in 1985. Jenkins continued to write books, including a memoir called, “His Ownself.” His best-sellers included “Semi-Tough,” “Baja Oklahoma” and “Dead Solid Perfect.”
Jenkins covered his first major at the 1951 Masters, won by his beloved Hogan. Starting with the 1969 PGA Championship, he covered 179 consecutive majors. The streak ended when his health kept him from going to Royal Liverpool for the British Open in 2014. His last major was the Masters last year.
Jenkins became only the third golf writer to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, following Bernard Darwin and Herbert Warren Wind.
When former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem listed all of Jenkins’ achievements for the World Golf Hall of Fame, including his numerous writing awards, Jenkins replied: “You left out my cure for polio.”
Jenkins looked at all the people who had been enshrined and concluded that “I have known 95 of these people when they were living. I’ve written stories about 73 of them. I’ve had cocktails and drinks with 47 of them. And I played golf with 24 of them.”
He was most famously linked with Hogan, who he maintains was the best shot maker he ever saw. He often played golf with Hogan, and Jenkins used to tell of the time Hogan offered to work with him on his game if he wanted to try to compete in the U.S. Amateur. Jenkins said he was flattered but turned him down because all he wanted to be was a sportswriter.
He always thought Hogan’s win at Oakland Hills in the 1951 U.S. Open was as good as he has seen anyone play. Hogan shot 67 in the final round and later said that he brought “the monster” to its knees.
“Oakland Hills looked more like a penitentiary than a golf course,” Jenkins said.
He listed that among his top three moments in golf, along with Jack Nicklaus winning his sixth Masters at age 46 and the 1960 U.S. Open, regarded by many as being one of the greatest days in the history of the championship. Arnold Palmer shot 65 in the final round to beat Hogan, the aging star, and Nicklaus, the emerging star who was still an amateur that day at Cherry Hills.
“I’d never experienced — even as an old, cynical writer — as much excitement as all of us felt that afternoon following that action,” Jenkins said. “… And I’m so happy that I chose the profession I did.”
Jenkins is survived by by his wife June, sons Danny and Marty, and daughter Sally Jenkins, a Washington Post columnist.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Noted-football-golf-writer-Dan-Jenkins-dies-13674836.php.