“FAST EDDIE” MANDERVILLE
By R.J. Smiley
He is a Minnesota golf icon! Ed Manderville single handily shattered the color barrier in Minnesota golf.
On Memorial Day 2017, “Fast Eddie,” made his eleventh Ace, at age 85. With an outgoing personality and a wonderful smile Manderville has made Minnesota golfers color blind. “In all my years playing competitive golf, I have never had a race problem. When you have a strong game and a smile on your face, people forget about race.”
In a recent interview with “Fast Eddie,” I learned that the truly gifted athlete could have excelled in almost any sport.
In high school Ed excelled at football and boxing. He was a two time Minnesota State Welterweight Boxing Champion. His coach kept telling Ed, “Just hit them with that big right hand.”
Ed went on to box Golden Gloves for several years. “My boxing career ended the night I fought Gus Berthusen. He hit me harder than anybody had ever hit me and I went down. I remember the ref counting while I saw stars and heard birds singing. Somehow I got to my feet at the count of 9. I was just covering up while he was hitting me in the ribs, trying to get me to open up. Then I saw an opening and caught him with my right hand,” Ed said as he smiled with his eyes. “I broke my thumb with the knock out punch. That was my last fight. I never wanted to get hit that hard again.”
Ed was also a wonderful downhill ski instructor. He formed the Gelende Ski Club. “Fast Eddie” used his God given hand-eye coordination to become a professional archer finishing third in a Minnesota championship.
Ed first placed those magic hands on a golf club when he was 26. “My landlord took me to Wirth Golf Course in 1959. My bag was filled with 24 clubs, not one from the same manufacturer. Golf was hard, but on the par-3 eighteenth hole, I hit the green and 2-putted for par. I was hooked! I spent hours and hours at the range where two golf pros saw my potential and worked with me for free.”
“As I look back, golf really came too easy for me. I did not have the learning curve that most players have. I was so green, I embarrassed myself often. When I started playing other black players told me that no golf club would allow a black man to join their club. I proved them wrong when I joined Wirth’s Men’s Club. In those days the 24-man team competition was a big deal. Wirth had a great team and I got acquainted with other good golfers around the Twin Cities.”
“I heard about the Gross Invitational golf tournament, and signed up. I won the tournament breaking 70 for the first time. A few weeks later a love affair began. I was sitting in the grill at Wirth when a tall blond haired blue eyed guy walked in and said, ‘Is that Manderville guy in here?’ I did not like his attitude, and said nothing. Someone pointed to me and Harvey Borseth walked over and said, ‘Are you Manderville?’ I nodded yes. I won the Gross Invitational the last three years. ‘Well you did not win it this year.’ You think you can beat me? Let’s go find out if you can really play?”
“I shot 34 on the front and Harvey said, ‘I don’t want to play against you, let’s be partners. We can win some money.'”
“Over the years Harvey and I won thousands of dollars as partners. We would go to Phoenix and play for big money. In one ten day period we won over $10,000. I am not sure that Harvey ever understood all the bets.”
Eddie played in the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior Amateur. He loves telling stories about playing practice rounds with Charlie Sifford at the Senior Open at Siota CC in Columbus, Ohio. Sifford gave Eddie crap about his golf shoes. “Man you are playing in the U.S. Open, you can’t wear those damn cheap shoes in the Open.”
“I took the courtesy car to town and bought me some FootJoys. The next day Sifford said, ‘What are you doing playing those Pinnacle balls? This is the Open.’ The next day I was playing Titleist.”
Over the past 50 years Manderville has played in most of the MGA Golf Championships. During that time “Fast Eddie” has had eleven hole-in-ones, including back-to-back aces on numbers 7 and 8 at the Wirth Par 3 course.
One thing is sure, even at age 85, you DO NOT want to play “Fast Eddie” for money. I have known Eddie Manderville for almost 45 years. I am proud to call him a friend.