“I not only knew them, but I drew them, “
Murray Olderman, Sports Cartoonist
Recently, I had the rare opportunity to skim through a crate of Haggin Oaks hidden gems, old historic golf photographs dating back to the Progressive Era. of the early 1900s to the “Me” decade of the late 1970s. When something caught my eye, I was flipping through the fragile pages of old newspaper clippings detailing golf tournaments and sports articles, black & white unretouched photographs that tell the rich story of golf on and off the course.
1950’s Murray Olderman cartoon of golfers Frank Toronto & Ed Kringle
I discovered a resilient sketch sheet of what seemed to be an original cartoon drawn by late sports cartoonist Murray Olderman. I imagine that the curdling brown pages were once vibrant white canvasses with sharp edges. But even with the now vintage softening of the pages, the black-and-white Conté crayon texturing and shading from Olderman’s touch is still present. The illustrations still “pop” out of the page, and the exaggerated humor is still entertaining even to a less sports savvy reader like me. Even more interesting are the cartoons he drew of Frank Toronto, described as a perennial winner of golf championships, and Ed Kringle (professional golfer), both friends of Haggin Oaks.
They seemed personal to Olderman and noted a relationship that extended far past being just a spectator of their golf game. These illustrations of his friends amongst sharp quips and anecdotes capture comical nuances of facial expressions and body language that are timeless.
“My work initially was rudimentary,” Olderman said during an interview with Colombia Missourian. “But over time, I developed my own approach.”
When Olderman began as an amateur, the concept of political correctness was practically non-existent. Looking at his early work from a new millennial gaze is challenging. However, Olderman’s style evolved into more equitable depictions of sports celebrities as diversity was better received in the industry and society.
You can deliver a point of view with some pungency and graphic qualities,” Olderman said
I believe one of Olderman’s most significant contributions to the culture of golf as a cartoonist was his ability to capture the personality of the athletes. The playfulness of Frank Toronto and Ed Kringle, the strategic force behind Nicole Castrale, and the humanity of Tiger Woods are just a few of his body of work.
He seemed to look past the scoreboard and conveyed the spirit of his subjects in every sport in many ways. Olderman passed away in 2020 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. His sports illustrations are preserved in his 2017 book The Draw Of Sport.
As for me, I’m still exploring the Haggin Oaks time capsule and occasionally find short stories like Murray Olderman’s to share with you through the Golf In The City Of Sacramento blog. Feel free to share them with your golfing friends. You can also find many of our historical golf photographs on Instagram for Throwback Thursdays. Be sure to read Golf In The City Of Sacramento for more past, present, and future stories.