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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday: F is for Folklore

noun \fōk-lȯr\

1: traditional customs, tales, sayings, dances, or art forms preserved among a people
2: a branch of knowledge that deals with folklore
3: an often unsupported notion, story, or saying that is widely circulated

Once again the Greater Columbus Area, specifically Muirfield Village and Dublin, will be swarming with professional golfers, sportscasters, and fans. It is time for the 2011 Memorial Tournament, a golf invitational hosted by Jack Nicklaus.
Each year, the Memorial Tournament honors a person, living or dead, who has contributed to the game of golf. Past honorees include such prolific golfers as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Payne Stewart, and Babe Zaharias. The 2011 honoree is LPGA golfer, Nancy Lopez.

The tournament benefits many children’s charities in the Central Ohio area including Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with Folklore?

Sure, the Memorial Tournament attracts celebrities and honors legendary professional golfers, but that is not what this post covers. No, my friends.

I am not writing to make any accusations about what a certain fallen golf hero may or may not be purported to have done during bygone tournament weeks… I’ll leave those reportings to Perez Hilton.

This post is about something more nefarious altogether….

The Curse of Chief Leatherlips.
(Insert evil laugh here)

Unless you are from the area, you may not be familiar with the folklore surrounding the tournament. Allow me to enlighten you.

Traditionally, the Memorial Tournament is plagued by Mother Nature’s wrath, whether it be torrential downpours, tornado warnings, or locust infiltration. Many rounds have been delayed or cancelled due to rain. In 1990, Greg Norman was declared the winner and the tournament was ended after just 54 holes of play.
According to one version of the local folklore, the golf course was built on a sacred Indian burial ground and therefore cursed. Still others contend that the traffic and crowds from the tournament disturb Shateyoranyah, the Wyandot Indian Chief (Chief Leatherlips).
Chief Leatherlips Monument in Dublin, Ohio
An excerpt from an Associated Press story from 1997:

In 1993, when the Memorial was delayed by rain for the fourth straight years and 11 of 18 years overall, Barbara Nicklaus tried to do something about it. Arnold Palmer’s wife, Winnie, suggested that if Muirfield Village was built over an old cemetery that a glass of gin left at the burial site of Chief Leatherlips—it rests in the trees beyond the practice fairway—might mollify any angry spirits.

So, late Thursday night during the ’93 tournament and again during the Friday afternoon suspension, Barbara Nicklaus made trips to a nearby cemetery and monument to Chief Leatherlips. Both times she left a glass with gin in it. Jack even drove her Thursday night, albeit reluctantly. “I had nothing to do with it, absolutely nothing,” he said at the time in mock disbelief. “She just said, ‘Maybe I’ll give them a little gift this year, and maybe next year it’ll be something really nice.’” Not even that worked.

This year's tournament will run
 Monday, May 30 to Sunday, June 5. 
Have your umbrellas ready!

Be sure to stop by Jenny Matlock's blog for more F posts.



  1. Not sure what to say to that except, maybe they should have offered an nice Chardonnay??? Chocolate... how about chocolate!!! Stay dry:@)

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  3. I LOVE this, La!! I am a golfer and I always watch that tournament! What great folklore!
    I'm not posting my Alphabe-Thursday offering until tomorrow, but I do have a post up now that you might be interested in, if you would like to see me in golf attire!!

  4. I will have to ask my husband about this legend...he works there and has been so busy working tons of hours as they are getting ready for tournament to start! Not sure what time I'll see him tonight, but I need to remember to ask him about this!

  5. It would be great to see all those famous golfers.

  6. What a fabulous tale of local folklore!


  7. Thanks for visiting! It's the squirrels AND deer AND groundhogs that drive me crazy! They ate the blossoms of my tulips, roses, astilbe, wood geraniums, sundrops, baloon flowers, and the list goes on!
    Love the "curse" folklore - my husband's a golfer and I'll show this to him.

  8. I love folklore and old wives tales.. Have a great day!

  9. We have a spring horse show where it always always always rains.

    Maybe I'll try the gin thing this year, I mean even if it does rain, I won't care!

  10. Interesting post about folklore! I really enjoy tales, yarns, and folklore that have carved so many interesting American stories. Thank you for sharing this one.

  11. I'll have to tell my Great Dane about this because he'll be watching the tournament.

  12. What a great post! You totally threw me off with the golf stuff until you got to the part about the folklore surrounding the golf tournament :) I think folklore is something that should not be trifled with because you never know what will happen right? :) At least all they got was bad weather on the tournament days. It could always be something worse!

  13. Great folklore, Miss La! I vaguely remember reading something about this back when I lived in your fair State.

    I'm going to send this fascinating link to some of my Ohio friends!

    Thanks for linking. I liked the surprise you shared with us for subject matter this week.



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See you soon! La