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Tallman belatedly gets his due

With this the weekend of the Eagle Creek Golf Club Match Play championship, it's a good time to bring up the name of D.N. Tallman.

David Newton Tallman won three Lakeland Tournament titles, including the first ever on the new nine-hole golf course that was carved from a pasture on a bluff overlooking Willmar Lake.

This year, more than 50 years after his death in 1958, he has been named one of three 2010 inductees into the MGA-PGA Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame.

There was little ordinary about his life. He made a fortune in banking, lumber and land development but lost it all in the depression. He died living on welfare, according to his granddaughter, Nancy Ramey, a 1962 Willmar graduate who now lives in the Brainerd area and whose husband Deryl is a former Cardinal football coach.

"We called him 'Newt," said Nancy. "He had his troubles but I always thought he was a great guy." Nancy's mother Marjorie Tallman Lundquist was the youngest of five Tallman children, all girls. They grew up at the corner of northwest Gorton Avenue and Russell Street in a mansion, recently razed.

D.N. Tallman was an all-around athlete who played football and captained and pitched for his college baseball team. He excelled, too, at tennis. But in his forties he found his tennis partners were stowing their racquets and buying golfing sticks.

At age 50, in 1922, he switched pastimes and soon fell for the "royal and ancient sport." He won his first Minnesota Senior Amateur title in 1926 and went on to win it three more times. Nationally, he won five Trans-Mississippi National Senior titles and competed in the 1927 USGA Amateur Championship.

In Florida, where he spent winters, he was known for playing 36 holes daily. Friends called him "Tolly."

Babe Ruth was both a playing partner and adversary.

An article in the July, 1934, issue of American Golfer magazine ran a photo of the Home Run King and the sturdy but much shorter Dave Tallman.

According to the article, Babe nicknamed the 62-year-old the "Iron Man" for his double rounds.

"This pair teams up a lot in Florida, taking on all comers in four-ball matches (and) after completing 36 holes ... they decide to play a few more holes just for fun."

The article goes on: "A year ago Tolly defeated the Babe in the Belleair Championship and this past winter the Babe, still smarting - and a much improved golfer, too - went out and eliminated Tolly.

Quoted in the article, Tallman relates his success at golf (he shot as low as 72 but often was in the 80s) to maintaining a physical and mental equilibrium throughout a match: "The easier one takes the game, the better one can score." His advice, "Eat lightly before a round, walk neither too fast nor too slow, as both are tiring, and don't talk too much."

Tallman was born and educated in upstate New York. He came to Willmar in 1893 as a civil engineer assigned to the Great Northern division office.

He became friends with Louis Hall, son of railroad giant James J. Hall. It's written he helped plot town and establish banks and lumber companies in over three dozen towns along the railroad line west.

His investments were wiped out as land values plummeted in the 1920s and as the banks later failed when farmers no longer could repay loans.

Tallman won his last Lakeland in 1943, at the age of 71. He spent his later years living in a modest home in the 700 block of West Monongalia.

n Head coach Jon Konold plans to start sophomore Alex Grove at quarterback when Willmar opens at Alexandria next Friday. The Cardinals have never been deeper at quarterback. Grove has a strong arm. Jake Rambow and Gabe Amon are a bigger threat running, though Grove showed he has some speed breaking an 80- yard run the second play in Wednesday's intra-squad scrimmage. Rambow and Amon will both start on defense.

- Attendance the first weekend of the amateur tournament, according to the state office, was 1,929 at Bird Island, 1,238 at Willmar and 386 at Spicer, which hosted four games compared to 10 at the two other sites. Willmar will get a bump on Saturday with Raymond and Sacred Heart scheduled to play in back-to-back games.

- Mark Gauer, a three-sport athlete at Willmar graduating in 1980 along with twin brother Mike, attended the Little League World Series in Williamsport where his 12-year-old son Gabe played on one of the eight U.S. team in the 16-team international field. The Plymouth-New Hope team is one of only six teams from Minnesota to make it so far. Gabe, a catcher, got pointers from Joe Mauer who paid for a bus for the parents of the players. Gabe's grandparents are Warren and Evelyn Gauer of Willmar.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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