Who possibly could be a better goodwill ambassador for the Bob Hope Classic than Yogi Berra? He was on a conference call yesterday, speaking about his new role with the tournament. It involves greeting all the amateurs, smiling, and basically just being Yogi Berra. It wouldn't be surprising if he told a story or two.

          Yesterday, he acknowledged one golf tale, prompted by his granddaughter Lindsay, a reporter for ESPN The Magazine. Yogi, a 10 handicapper, was once totally flummoxed by the game (who hasn't been? although he didn't use that exact word). He kept on saying negative stuff about his swing. Finally, someone insisted, "Yogi, say something positive!" So he did: "I'm positive I can't make that shot."

          Interesting also is the fact he no longer is a lefthanded golfer, although he started that way. It was only natural, since his lefty baseball swing got him into the Hall of Fame. But two years into his golf career, which began at the same time as his pro baseball career, he began swinging righty.

          "I slice the ball lefthanded too much. Righthanded, I hit it pretty straight. Not far, but pretty straight," he said.

           He went on to speak of the epiphany (he didn't use that exact word either) of the switch:

        "I was behind a tree at my golf course and I couldn't hit it left?handed, so I borrowed a club from the guy I was playing with and hit it right?handed, and I hit it good. I said, I'm going to start playing right?handed."

        And so he has, ever since. He still putts lefty though because that just feels better.

         He has played with many notable people--including Hope, as well as numerous baseball players. Yogi finds that for some reason pitchers tend to be better golfers. He has played some of the finest courses, including Pine Valley, perhaps the most exclusive course going.

         The secret of how to play the course most of us will never play is no secret at all: "You got to hit it straight and keep it out of the traps," Yogi said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday