The Memorial Tournament “Curse of Chief Leatherlips”
The Memorial Tournament has ‘teed off’ again for another year in Central Ohio and once again, the hope is that the “Curse of Chief Leatherlips” will be avoided. Not familiar with the Chief? A monument to him stands on Riverside Drive, about three miles north of the Scioto River Bridge at State Route 161. Chief Leatherlips was executed in 1810 by members of his own Wyandot tribe not far from the Muirfield Village golf course site. Legend has it that the ghost of Leatherlips brings the rain because the traffic and crowds of the tournament disturb him.
Measures have been taken to break the curse. Take for instance this Associated Press story from 1997:
Rain is a common curse at The Memorial. The 1990 tournament was shortened to 54 holes with Greg Norman declared the winner. Though there is no evidence it is true, local lore has it that the golf course was built on an Indian burial ground. In 1993, when The Memorial was delayed by rain for the fourth straight year and 11 of 18 years overall, Jack Nicklaus’ wife Barbara decided 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 1993 tournament and again during a Friday afternoon suspension, Barbara Nicklaus made trips to the nearby cemetery and monument to 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,” Jack said at the time in mock disbelief. “She just said, ‘Maybe I will give them a little gift this year and maybe next year it’ll be something really nice.’ ”
Not even that worked. Apparently being the most successful golfer ever carries clout with the USGA & PGA, but not with the weather.
Let’s hope the Old Chief takes pity on us this year.
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