After 65 Years, Jewish Golf Group, Duffer’s Clambake, Still Thrives


In these very fast paced, social media driven, and rapidly changing times it is difficult to envision a social organization which not only persists, but has evolved and thrived for approximately 65 years. Our Jewish community, though, has such an organization – the Duffer’s Clambake (not be confused with the name “Duffer’s Clambait”, which once mistakenly occurred on our very own regalia!).

Begun in 1948 and named after Bing Crosby’s golfing group concept, which later evolved into the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, this group, which consists of up to 44 Jewish golfers and “wanabee” golfers (hence the “Duffer’s” nomenclature), has continued and grown since it’s inception.

Based upon themes of golfing adventure and like-minded (but not always!) fraternization, members of this organization have sought these objectives during three-day out-of-town outings in the spring and fall plus a one-day Summer Outing every year since the organization’s founding.

In the late 1940’s, when golf venues were often closed to Jewish golfers, the group’s “founding fathers” (including Murrell Klein, Harry Linker, Sam Rosenstein, Marty Kaplan, Juny Joseph, Abe Yofe, Leon Yunger, Jimmy Klein, Norman Banks, Herby Marks, Jerry Kozlove, Joe Kaplan, Alex Hertzman, Keith Banks, Bernard Berman, Irv Rodde and Irv Belker) began a “fraternity”-like organization so they could enjoy fellowship as well as golf.

A famous picture of these men inscribed with “Duffer’s Clambake, Fall 1954” exists in the group’s archives along with a script for the mystical induction ceremony, which has long since been dispensed with.

In the early 1980’s, the realization that the group’s founders were aging led to an infusion of younger members who would carry on the traditions of twice per year outings at Park Mammoth for golf, playing cards, fellowship – and complaining. And, oh yes, the buying, storing and schlepping of Jewish delicacies (not to be forgotten is Leon Eichenholz’ lox spread!).

Several new members joined during this period and they continue as members today along with many newer and younger members. As has become tradition each member must at some point accept the responsibility to serve as “shamos” and then as “chief Duffer,” the organization’s leadership positions.

After years and years of “wandering in the desert” of the challenging Park Mammoth Golf Course (e.g. no fairway grass and the need for hammers to place golf tees into the ground – not to mention the snakes!), it was in the late 1980’s that the group began to venture away from Park Mammoth to play many of the unique and challenging courses throughout this region – Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.

Along the way several more skilled “A” players joined the “Duffers” to upgrade the ranks of the existing “B, C and D” players.

Duffers’ Clambake 2014

In 2014 the Duffers’ Clambake will again provide some interesting and rewarding golfing opportunities for Louisville’s Jewish golfers. Presently there are plans for three outings:

This year’s spring event, May 18-20, began with a round on a fair for all ages and skill levels, but challenging, course on Sunday. Members made up their own groups and each golfer played his own ball.

For Monday’s play, the “Golf Chairman” formed competitive groups who play a “scramble” format. On Tuesday, they once again played individually.

On Sunday and Monday evenings the Duffers ate dinner at specially chosen local restaurants. As always a highlight of the outing was fellowship periods in a private hospitality suite, featuring beverages and snacks that each Duffer selected.

On one of those evenings there will also be a membership meeting where topics of interest to the members are discussed and voted on.

The summer gathering will be a one-day event on a Friday afternoon in July or August. Lunch will be provided. The golf competition will be comprised of a shotgun-start scramble.

Historically, the fall outing is played beginning on the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In 2014, this event will be scheduled to assure that there is no overlap with the PGA Tournament and associated activities because several Duffers will serve as volunteers at those events. The format for the fall outing will be similar of that for the Spring Outing, except a different set of golf courses will be featured.

This year, John Silletto is the chief Duffer and Norton Frank is the shamos.

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