This month the golf world lost two long-time friends who will be forever remembered for both their contributions to the game and the legacies they will leave behind for future generations: Sportswriter Furman Bisher and former USGA Assistant Executive Director John P. English. Furman Bisher, who passed away on March 18th at the age of 93, was much more than your regular golf sportswriter. In fact, Bisher's career spanned numerous sporting events during a career that spanned for over 50 years, including coverage of the Masters, the Kentucky Derby, and numerous Georgia - Georgia Tech college football games. He is also well-known for his 1949 interview with "Shoeless" Joe Jackson for the first time since the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
According to Jim Minter, former editor of The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution, Bisher's work was exemplory.
"He never wrote a bad column", Minter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He put more quality words on newsprint than any other writer in the last half of the 20th century."
At the time of his retirement in 2009 - a full 59 years after he started reporting - Bisher authored his final article on the same typewriter he wrote his first work with back in 1950.
John P. English grew up in Massachusetts where he would learn the game of golf from eventual Hall of Famer and two-time major winner Henry Picard. From a playing perspective, English had the unique opportunity to play a celebrity golf match against Babe Ruth, became good friends with Francis Ouimet and frequent playing partner with the legendary Bobby Jones.
During his lifetime English would eventually become a golf writer for the Boston Herald; an opportunity that allowed English to witness many historic golf moments. According to the USGA website, English was at the Masters in 1935 when Gene Sarazen made his "shot heard 'round the world," a double eagle on the 15th hole. English also walked alongside Sam Snead at Philadelphia Country Club when Snead, needing only a par 5 on the final hole to win the 1939 U.S. Open, made an 8.
English also served as assistant executive director of the USGA from 1949 to 1959 while it was headquartered in New York City. During that time he would help with rolling out and served as editor for the Golf Journal, the official USGA golf publication.
English passed away on March 6th at the age of 101.