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Golf Writer Wind Dies at 88

He gave Augusta its most famous nickname when he coined 'Amen Corner' in 1958.

June 02, 2005|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Herbert Warren Wind, a longtime writer for the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated who coined the term "Amen Corner" for the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at Augusta National at the Masters tournament, has died at 88, but he leaves behind some of sportswriting's most elegant prose about golf.

Wind's lasting legacy may be his choice of names for the three holes at the south end of Augusta National, where Rae's Creek flows at the back of the 11th green and in front of the 12th and 13th greens.

Warren described the three holes as Amen Corner in the April 21, 1958 edition of Sports Illustrated, borrowing the name of an old Bluebird label jazz recording "Shouting at Amen Corner" by a band under the direction of Milton "Mezz" Mezzrow, a Chicago clarinetist.

Wind explained how he came to use the term Amen Corner in a 1984 interview with Golf Digest.

"There was nothing unusual about the song, but apparently the title was catchy enough to stick in my mind. The more I thought about it, the more suitable I thought the Amen Corner was for that bend of the course."

Nevertheless, when Wind's article was published, the headline was "The Fateful Corner."

The opening sentence went like this: "On the afternoon before the start of the recent Masters golf tournament, a wonderfully evocative ceremony took place at the farthest reach of the Augusta National course -- down in the Amen Corner where Rae's Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front edge of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green ... "

Said Wind: "I have no idea how the name caught on. To be candid, I am delighted that it did. To be connected even in the flimsiest way with a course like Augusta National and a tournament like the Masters is good for the soul."

Wind died of pneumonia Monday at a nursing facility in Bedford, Mass., according to his nephew, Bill Scheft, a writer at Sports Illustrated.

Wind served two stints at the New Yorker, in 1948-53 and 1969-90, and in 1954 was one of the first writers hired at Sports Illustrated.

His lengthy career writing about golf spanned the exploits of some of the game's greatest players, and he counted among his friends such icons as Francis Ouimet, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.

He wrote 14 books, two of them projects with Hogan, and also with Jack Nicklaus. Wind's 1957 collaboration with Hogan produced "Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf," considered one of the finest instruction books printed.

The second of six children born to a leather tanner in Brockton, Mass., Wind also worked two years as an associate producer of "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf." An accomplished golfer, Wind competed in the 1950 British Amateur.

Wind, who never married, spent his time writing, painting and traveling.

"He was very much the intellectual," Nicklaus said. "Herb was a great guy. I liked him a lot. It's a great loss."

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