Dick Yost: Am Golfer Extraordinaire

Golf Writer Andy Reistetter is back at Pebble Beach Golf Links for his fifth consecutive AT&T National Pro-Am. While excited to think about the possibility of Phil Mickelson defending his title and winning for the second consecutive week on tour, his thoughts returned to last year's event when Tiger Woods competed. He met Suzanne Yost McCourt, a lady artist, outside the Golf Links to the Past shop near the practice putting green at Pebble Beach. She told him stories of her father, Dick Yost, a great Northwest American amateur champion golfer and her artistic journey to golf. Today their stories seem to capture the spirit of the Pro-Am at Pebble Beach where the story is as much about the amateurs as it is about the professional golfers.
Two women, I later came to know as artist Suzanne Yost McCourt and her agent Rohana Loschivo, were carrying a large piece of artwork prominently displaying Tiger Woods. I, of course was intrigued by the movement and the scene. There is probably a name for this type of art, maybe neo-realism sport-art, but it was the context and texture that immediately brought me in. Tiger completing his swing, a confident champion beside his golf bag and amidst a collage of introspective beauty. The Pacific Ocean and the 18th green in the background. A scoreboard of champions with Dustin Johnson the last listed for his win in 2009. This piece of art with all its displayed history was to be the first ever cover to be created by a woman for the program of the best pro-am in the world.
Here was a woman that put Tiger on the cover. Only the cover was never published for Tiger did not make it to Pebble Beach in 2010 after the Thanksgiving incident involving a fire hydrant at Isleworth. The conversation and the story quickly shifted to her father and her journey to golf art.
Dick Yost originated in Portland, Oregon and made an impact in golf like no other golfer. His talent and competitive abilities are unquestionably great. The fact that he passed on at a relatively young age, when Suzanne was only 16 years old, may have shortened his list of accomplishments but recently has acted as a catalyst to broaden, deepen and share his spirit to a new generation of golfers. Suzanne has gone back and captured the essence of her golfing father and developed a new sense of golfing art that furthers the spirit of the game. A spirit present at Pebble Beach especially in February with the playing of the Pro-Am.
While actor, comedian and golfer Bill Murray winning in 2011 with D.A. Points is the ultimate "Cinderella Story," Dick Yost has quite a story of his own. In 1957 he beat a 17 year-old kid named Jack Nicklaus 3&2 is the U.S. Amateur. Nicklaus was out in 32 but was 1-down against the hot Yost. Two years later Nicklaus got his revenge beating Yost 2&1 in the same national amateur championship. By then everyone knew who Jack was including Yost who admitted to being distracted by his notoriety in press clippings even though he was 1-Up after 10 holes.
Yost had a bit of notoriety himself as he was invited several times by Bing Crosby to come play in what was then simply known as the Crosby. In fact one year Bing went out of his way to visit Yost's superiors in the Army where he was stationed at the Presidio to insure he would get leave and be able to play at Pebble Beach. He also played on the victorious 1955 Walker Cup team and in the 1957 Masters. A Portland lad that became friends with the likes of Crosby and Bob Hope and walked the fairways of Augusta National Golf Club was the humble Dick Yost. A Western Union telegram from Bing sending his regrets for missing a dinner honoring Dick Yost has the true ring of Sam Wainwright's confidence and admiration to George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life.
Suzanne's dad was not only creative in his golf game but as a writer as well. He wrote daily chronicles of the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club for the San Francisco Examiner. His tremendous knowledge of and love for the game are evident in his writings including the extra playoff edition where he gives Jack Fleck his due credit for upstaging Ben Hogan on the national stage of golf.
An artist is always looking for passion, for something personal to create upon. Daughter Suzanne found it in old boxes of letters and pictures and created a new sense of insightful golfing art. By coincidence she found herself in an art class many years ago with Hank Ketcham, the creator of Dennis the Menace. They became friends and creative pals and exchanged notes of sketches and kind words of encouragement at a time when she created her jazz musician phase of artistry.
While it is an oddity of golfing lore that her original artwork never made it to the cover of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am it is not an oddity that she has found golf and that golf has embraced her art. The spirit of the Pro-Am and the spirit of her father are alive in the artwork of Suzanne Yost McCourt. Let's celebrate golf, Pebble Beach and another wonderful year of the Pro-Am and like always let's accept the Crosby weather whatever it is.
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Spotter, Research and Broadcast Assistant for The Golf Channel, NBC and CBS Sports. A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.
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