Great Minds Think Alike

16 Jul

I had the single greatest round of golf in my life last week. As a sub-par (meaning poor, mostly WAY, WAY over par) golfer, I have only broken 90 twice, both at the Penn State golf courses, an 88 and an 89. Last Friday, I played with my father at a course in New Hampshire I hadn’t seen before, Laconia Country Club. Fortunately, my best-ball partner for the day, a buddy of my dad’s friend who had set us up with the tee-time, was a member of the club and knew the course well from playing multi-weekly rounds. With his detailed knowledge of the course, its hills, bunkers and doglegs. I had myself something similar to a professional caddy.

Normally I have to make observations, suggestions and corrections myself, in my head; Ok, its uphill so take an extra club, maybe the 7 instead of the 8 iron. Its breezy, make sure to ‘swing easy’. Usually, that doesn’t work. But last Friday, everything Craig told me to do, I did. That seems easy but in golf, a game as simple swinging at a stationary ball and trying to hit it forward into very large, nicely mowed lawn, nothing is harder. But each time Craig said “use your 7 iron here, swing nice and easy, you’ll want to be about 160 yds, the left side of the green is the safer shot, AND its where you’ll have the easiest putt”, or something similar, that was what I did. His knowledge of the course, my willingness to take his advice, and somehow, my clubs’ willingness to send the ball where I wanted it (for once!) combined to give me my lowest score ever, an 84.

Now I’ve told everyone I can about my incredible round. Its now out on the blogosphere as well. Unfortunately, before I could brag to a work associate of my dad’s, who is a scratch golfer (a ZERO handicap- meaning he’s like to get even par on an average day), he told me that he struggled yesterday, putted horribly, and shot a 76. So instead of boasting about the round of my life which was 8 strokes worse than his disappointing 4-over-par, we began to discuss the Clipboard+.

Mike turned the conversation right back to golf when he asked me if I knew who had invented the original clipboard. I had no idea, it seemed like clipboards just came to be. It solves a basic need for people working on their feet- a way to connect and organize papers, with a built in writing surface. A portable desk.

(Now, various sites online may have differing information on the inventor of the clipboard, some saying it was a man named “Clip”, or the inventor of the soap dispenser: George Henry Hohnsbeen, but as my dad’s friend Mike is a southern gentleman, the father of a Marine, the president of his company and recently carried my dad to a Member-Guest Club Championship with two consecutive scores of 3-under-par 69 this weekend, I’m inclined to trust his tale.)

A.W. TillinghastThe man who I was told invented the clipboard was A.W. Tillinghast, “Tilly” to his friends, though his golf-related accomplishments greatly overshadow almost all mention of this invention. Tillinghast was a one-time professional golfer who became one of the most prolific golf course architects of the early 20th century. His courses have been the sites of numerous professional and amateur championships, and his design style “The Course Beautiful” was applied to “produce something which will provide a true test of the game, and then consider every conceivable way to make it as beautiful as possible.”

As they say: necessity is the mother of invention.

Apparently, surveying countless lands, designing and redesigning over 250 golf courses, writing short stories of fictional golfers and hundreds of golfing articles and course design handbooks over a 30 year career, the guy needed to keep his papers in order. And thus (allegedly) the clipboard was born.

Kevin MerliniSimilar necessity brought Clipboard+ founder and all-around good guy Kevin Merlini to design the Clipboard+. With modern mobile technology increasingly useful for our work, using a clipboard and a mobile device became the problem Tilly had with his papers (unless you want to clamp down on your iPad, scratch the glass and have it fall out, I suppose).

But these aren’t the only similarities between the two clipboard innovators.

Tilly was born in Philadelphia in 1874. Kevin was born and raised just outside of that very same City of Brotherly Love. Tillinghast designed famous courses like Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Bethpage and Shawnee (as well as consulting or surveying over 700). Kevin caddied at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, an old hangout of Tilly’s youth, and a course he redesigned in 1922. Kevin also learned how to play the sport at Tillinghast’s Cedarbrook Hill Golf Course in Wyncote,PA, and has played at a number of the courses in the Philadelphia areas Tillinghast was involved in designing.

Tillinghast Plays

In 1904, Tillinghast lost his US Amateur match to fellow future course architect, Chandler Egan, when Egan’s ball took a lucky bounce of a tree at Baltusrol. When Tillinghast designed the new courses at Baltusrol in 1918, one of his first acts was to remove that same tree that had cost him his match. In golf, it always pays to be patient; to wait for the wind to die down, take a second practice swing before a big putt, for a wife to not be upset when her husband played an extra nine, etc. Now, maybe I’ll have to become a course architect, that way I could go back everywhere I’ve played and chop down all those goddamn trees that have gotten in my balls’ way.

(If you have any additional information- especially if it contradicts what I’ve written- on the clipboard’s true origins, please comment below.

Like most people, I love to be corrected)

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3 Responses to “Great Minds Think Alike”

  1. Mike B July 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Well done Andy. Love the way you multiple stories togther. Ps Your father and I made a great team this weekend. We could not have won without each other. Best

    • andyclipboardplus July 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

      Thanks for reading, Mike. It was good to see you again, and I’m glad that you were able to make the trip and go home a winner. Congratulations- I agree my dad is a good partner. “Mr. Par” they call him.
      Thank you for being a key source for this article as well.

  2. Roger A. Kahan, CPA August 10, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    I like your great entry. It proves that you did some “good stuff” while at college; you learned something. You have put that learning to good use. However, I am sure you also picked up a “little” while at home. Best of luck. Roger

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