PONTE VEDRA, Fla. – A memorable moment more than three decades ago still draws gasps from viewers: the splash heard around the golf world in 1982.
The first winner of TPC Sawgrass, Jerry Pate says he chose to throw then commissioner, Deane Beman and course designer, Pete Dye into the lake as a result of all the negative things players had to say about the rigorous course. Pate says he wanted to lighten things up. And he wasn't concerned about a gator known to patrol hole 18.
"The first tournament was held in 1982,” said Deane Beman who served as the PGA TOUR Commissioner from 1974 to 1994. "Coming up 18 Jerry Pate had a pretty good lead. so he was joking a little bit."
While walking across the course with cameras rolling during the inaugural tournament at TPC Sawgrass Pate promised to make a bold move if he won the tournament, "I ought to throw the commissioner in. Pete Dye will go for a swim today."
"I started following Jerry on the 12th hole,” said Alice Dye. “And he said Alice if I win this I'm going to throw your husband in the lake so I told Pete.”
"All these players wanted to just hang the commissioner and I thought you know what I'm going to bring a little levity to the game and that's when I asked Deane and Pete after I won- I said come over to this bulk head on 18 I've got to show you something,” said Pate. “And I grabbed Deane and threw him in and Pete on the run went in and then I dove in behind them."
"Pete had his glasses off and I had his wallet and in he went,” said Dye. "I don’t think Deane knew he was going in."
"I didn’t think Jerry Pate would stop with just Pete Dye,” said Beman. “So I just handed over my watch and my wallet to my wife before I greeted him on the 18th green."
"And there was a big alligator in that lake,” said Dye. “Fortunately it wasn't on duty."
"The only thing I regret about it is this one here,” said Beman pointing to a photo hung in the hall of the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse. “See I'm helping Jerry Pate out. I should have let go of his hand and dropped him back in the water."
Wednesday morning on Back in the Day with GMJ, Beman opens up about his dream to help transform the game of golf.