Did They Have Golf in the Soviet Union?

I hate to let anyone see me break out in a sweat, but I’m forced to admit that at this point I am working very, very hard to figure out the Tau Beta Pi bent story. Could there possibly be a more obscure corner of this campus?? In any event, I had a couple of minor breakthroughs this afternoon but I don’t have time to digest them right now. Instead for your entertainment I will trot out some photographs of one attempt at international understanding, through the great game of golf, no less. It seems like a cruel thing to do to these fellows, all of whom look more than a little dubious.

Russian golf Prof VM gryaznow

The pictures are labeled “Russian Technology Exchange” and, naturally, they aren’t dated.

Russian golf Coach John Plumbley and MG Slinko

I happen to know, however, that the nice man who’s trying without notable success to get them to grip the club properly is John Plumbley, class of ’48, who was Rice’s golf coach from the 1970s until his death at age 61 in 1983. (Just for kicks, here’s Plumbley in the May 11, 1970 issue of Sports Illustrated: John Plumbley, Rice golf coach, on his team’s erratic driving: “When the squirrels and birds see us on the tee they start scattering. We’ve set back the mating season in Texas 90 days.”)

Russian Technology Exchange program Golf Minachew

I can only wonder at the chain of events that led to this moment. Truly, we live in a wonderful world.

Bonus: I looked reasonably hard for some information on the Russian scientists but came up pretty much empty. I did manage to dig out one short piece written by a student named Steve Redding in the Winter 1969 issue of the Rice Engineer, but it was about an earlier group of Russians. Then I had to run off to attend a class (more about this later) in Anderson Hall. The room numbers are a bit confusing so I was happy to find it quickly and even happier to see who it was named for:

WWW lecture room

I shouldn’t have been surprised to find another plaque inside the room, noting the donor, my old friend Ray Watkin Hoagland Strange, William Ward Watkin’s daughter:


But I was really startled when I looked at the card that the instructor, whose name I didn’t catch at first but who turned out to be a Rice alum from the class of 1970, handed me afterwards:

redding card

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4 Responses to Did They Have Golf in the Soviet Union?

  1. Grungy says:

    Golf’s history in Russia is mercifully short: “On 15 September 1987, the first stone of the first golf course in the USSR was placed by famous Swedish hockey player, former world champion Sven Tumba. “

  2. Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen '82) says:

    I must be missing something. Why was Stephen Redding’s card startling?

  3. Jerry Outlaw says:

    Steve was also a pretty good tennis player, even if he was left-handed.

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