What was Al Capone Golf?

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Answered by: Jeffrey, An Expert in the Crimes and Other Scandals Category
Al Capone Golf

The Chicago gangsters of the 1920's and 30's adored golf. They could be found on every good golf course, heartily promoted by the Big Fella, Capone, who invented his own, jolly, Al Capone Golf. This was more than golf; it was a celebration and a ritual of acting out. There were legendary hijinks on the links with the Boss and his lieutenants, spiflicated and gamboling on the fairways, constantly sipping the real quill until breaking out into spontaneous brawls, which was a common occurrence.

Frequently along at the Evergreen Park course, or at the Maywood Country Club, and especially at the Burnham Wood course, was Jack McGurn, Capone's premier assassin. McGurn was an excellent player with a handicap of 2 - a small, handsome lad with the innocent face of a Renaissance putti. He was the architect of the Saint Valentine's Day massacre in 1929, and was responsible for at least thirty murders. His real name was Vincent Gebardi; the machine gun moniker was invented by a newspaper reporter after he was the main suspect in the massacre.

Vincent was a former welterweight boxer, a natural athlete with incredible agility and strength. He was an instinctively intelligent golfer where Capone was a terrible hacker and infamous destroyer of turf. Often part of the Al Capone Golf foursome was Capone's obese money man and payoff artist, Jack Guzik, the only person in the hierarchy of the Outfit who played more deplorably than Capone, making him essential. Capone was built like a small gorilla, also a man of significant strength. He would hit the ball a long distance, almost always hooking it into the brush, and as his caddie at Burnham, Sullivan, expressed it, "he couldn't putt for beans."

Capone soon corrupted young Sullivan by bribing him to carry a few extra balls and drop one if his errant drive couldn't be found. On one occasion, Capone lieutenant, Sam "Golf Bag" Hunt, witnessed this cheat and called the Big Fella out on it. According to biographer Lawrence Bergreen, Capone got so mad that he pulled a .45 out of his bag and threatened to shoot Hunt. They had all been using liberal amounts of "aiming lotion." But soon all was forgiven (or forgotten) and the match resumed.

Capone, as bad a golfer as he was, always gambled heavily with his partners, with $10,000 often exchanging hands after a round of Al Capone Golf. McGurn made a second living playing golf, especially with Capone. McGurn was an acrobat and would do cartwheels and somersaults, dressed in the elegant, grey flannel pants preferred by his golf idol, Walter Hagen. On the other hand, Capone and Guzik spent huge amounts of money on the more colorful golf attire of the day, including knickers, knee-high plaid socks and vest sweaters, and the traditional Scottish tam-o-shanter berets in bilious shades of Chartreuse or crimson. This was characteristic of Capone, whose nickname amongst his intimate circle was "Snorky," a 20's term for a fancy, flamboyant dresser. He was his snorkiest on the golf course.

Eventually Capone ran afoul of that firearm in his golf bag. On one noteworthy golf outing in 1926 with Burnham's "boy mayor," Johnny Patton, the already inebriated boss hefted his golf bag and his .45 caliber automatic went off, hitting him in the fleshy part of his groin. The next day the Tribune tried to dissuade anyone from visiting the Big Fella at St. Margaret's Hospital in Hammond as the "boys seemed a little jumpy." Ironically, McGurn and the other bodyguards successfully prevented anyone from shooting Al Capone throughout his career. The only one who ever got Capone - was Capone.

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