A New Englander's Take on Golf
March 29, 2023
It was difficult to find the players amid a sea of umbrellas at the 1983 Masters, but Jim Hallet (left) was right there with Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros (right) in a memorable second round.

There are a variety of routes to traverse for the yearly pilgrimage to Augusta, Ga. Through the air into Atlanta or Charlotte, or perhaps Columbia or Savannah, for instance. But if you’re so inclined, you can drive your own car southbound and meander through Pinehurst, N.C., where the air is thick with golf.

For personal reasons, however, the road to the 87th Masters will run through 1983 because no sporting event commands a reverence for anniversaries quite like this golf showcase. And the 40th anniversary of that year when a 23-year-old hockey player from Cape Cod who dreamed of playing with Bobby Orr and Gerry Cheevers but found himself paired with Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros on the Masters stage is as special as it gets.

Good gracious, the setting in which Jim Hallet found himself standing during that wild and wet Augusta spring. Specifically during Round 2, which started on Saturday, April 9 and finished Sunday morning, thanks to a torrential Friday rain.

You talk about golf’s wondrous ability to bring together contrasting personalities, marvel at this trio who had a late tee time for Round 2 of the 1983 Masters.

Palmer. At 53, he was the sport’s grandest icon and when he opened with 68 and was asked if it was realistic to think he could win, he burned a hole in the reporter’s notebook with his stare. “Damn right it is.”

Ballesteros. Obviously, it wasn’t Palmer’s Masters to win, because it would belong to the dashing Spaniard for a second time. He celebrated his 26th birthday alongside Palmer and Hallet that wet Saturday.

Hallet. The summer of ’82 had gone so swimmingly for the goaltender/golfer from Bryant College – victories in the Massachusetts Amateur and New England Amateur, and a semifinalist at the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club, which was his ticket to the ’83 Masters. Unheralded, for sure, he opened with 68 and with Palmer and Ballesteros as eyewitnesses in Round 2, there was a birdie at the par-4 ninth to push to 5-under. The Kid from Bass River was leading the 47th Masters. Echoing the elder statesman in the pairing, “I thought I was going to win it, too,” said Hallet.

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Forty years later, much has changed when Hallet is asked about that 1983 Masters. Ballesteros (who died at 54 in 2011) and Palmer (who died at 87 in 2016) are no longer with us, while Hallet – who went on to play in 225 tournaments across 12 PGA Tour seasons – will turn 63 tomorrow, having returned to Cape Cod where he teaches golf at Bayberry Hills.

There is a sense of melancholy when Hallet is asked about those legends. To know they are gone elicits sadness, yes, but forever Hallet will cherish the time he spent walking golf’s most beloved arena with two men who combined to win six Green Jackets.

“I remember all three of us birdied 14,” said Hallet. “Then on 15, I hit my third shot to about 8 feet. I heard the crowd cheering and of course, I think they’re cheering me.”

You can walk to the 15th green by going over a bridge to the left and as Hallet did that, he looked to his right where a pair of heroes walked another way toward the green. OK, so the cheers were probably for Palmer and Ballesteros, laughed Hallet, but it didn’t matter.

He was soaking wet from the rain, but it was Masters rain.

He was soaking in the atmosphere, a lot of which he had helped ignite.

To his right was a leaderboard, on which appeared his name with a red number next to it. Standing close by were two legends, all of them sharing space on the 15th green.

Savor that.

“The weather was tough, but we got through it,” said Hallet. “Just being with Arnold. You had to love the guy. He and Seve were class. It was a great time for all of us.”

Conversations were brief, but memorable. Standing in the ninth fairway while waiting for Ballesteros to play his second shot from the first fairway, Hallet stood next to his bag when Palmer wandered over.

“He looks in my bag and says, ‘You should be playing ‘The Palmer.’ He meant his club,” laughed Hallet. “He had his own line of irons, the Peerless.”

During a brief exchange with Ballesteros, there was talk of a birthday party for the Spaniard that evening. “You should come,” Ballesteros said to Hallet.

“But I think he said that because he really wanted my sister, Janice, to come,” laughed Hallet.

Being the competitor he was, Hallet to this day bemoans the momentum-stopper – his 8-iron shot into the soft 16th green. “The ball had so much spin on it, it rolled into the water and I made double.”

Hallet had to come back Sunday morning, just to play the 18th hole and officially end his round of 73 – 141. He was 3-under and tied for seventh, four behind Gil Morgan, who sat one ahead of Ballesteros. Done with Round 2 at about 8 a.m. Sunday, Hallet discovered that he wouldn’t tee off for about six or seven hours and it sort of threw him out of whack. He never regained any semblance of rhythm and with 76 on Sunday and 78 on Monday, Hallet was T-40.

On the surface, it wasn’t the best of finishes – he told himself on Day One that he could win, remember – but Hallet has nothing by priceless memories of that week. After all, of the nine amateurs, he was the only one to make the cut.

Not lost on him are the special aspects of that ’83 Masters that he was very much a part of.

For Palmer, it was the last hurrah at Augusta. He never made another cut.

For Ballesteros, it was his last act of magic amid the Georgia Pines. He would have other runs, yes, but ’83 would be the Spaniard’s second and final win, and Hallet, as low amateur, got to share the moment inside Butler Cabin with him.

So special, all of this, and yes, it’s hard to believe that 40 years have passed. It seems like just yesterday Hallet was rolling along beautifully in Round 1 – a par at the first, a birdie at No. 2, then four straight pars.

“I’m snaking it,” said Hallet. “I’m hitting it pretty good. And Bob Goalby (the former Masters champion) is paired with me. He’s trying to figure me out. Basically, he wants to know, ‘Who are you?’ ”

So Hallet smiled and told him: “I’m just a hockey player form Cape Cod.”

I have a passion for playing golf that is surpassed only by my passion for writing about people who have a passion for playing golf, for working in golf, for living their lives around golf. Chasing the best professional golfers around the world for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and the PGA Tour for more than 20 years was a blessing for which I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve been left with precious memories of golf at its very best, but here is a takeaway that rates even more valuable – the game belongs to everyone who loves it. “Power Fades” will be a weekly tribute with that in mind, a digital production to celebrate a game that many of us love. If you share a passion for golf, sign up down below for a free subscription and join the ride. And should you have suggestions, thoughts, critiques, or general comments, feel free to pass them along.

Cheers, Jim McCabe

1 – But what does it mean?

In case you think it’s part of today’s lexicon and proof that these young’uns are cool and hip, think again. Back in 1934 when Ky Laffoon won his fourth PGA Tour tournament of the year – by closing 65-69 on the weekend, no less – several writers proclaimed that it was “Ky Laffoon doing Ky Laffoon things.”

2 – Mystery, even to Miss Know It All

Even Siri cannot predict when Anthony Kim will make his LIV Golf debut.

3 – Keep it to yourself

Pssst, no one cares to read about your round of 93 when and if you get to play Augusta National.

4 – Easier to stick to one color

Multi-tasking isn’t my thing, so playing combo tees confounds me.

5 – It’s the Name Game

It’s nearly upon us, ladies and gentlemen, so brush up on the names of the holes at Augusta National. Flowering Peach is my favorite. And it’s especially nice that they do not take the easy way out and call No. 18 “Home.”

6 – OK, a hot dog then

Picked up the phone on the eighth hole to order something for the turn. “A better partner,” I asked. “Sorry,” said the young lady, “you can’t order off the menu.”

7 – They don’t have staying power

Professional match play tournaments are like vegetables. You know they’re good to have, but do you really miss them if they’re not there?

8 – Does not compute

When told that it “was 232 to the front, 255 to the flag,” I had only one response: “What exactly am I supposed to do with that information?”

9 – If you’re looking for a sure thing

We’ll remain 0-for-ever on the Pimento Cheese sandwich.


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