Thanks to his most remarkable wife, Art Spander still lets the words flow

Jim McCabe | February 7, 2024

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — True story, one that intersects three cherished aspects of a blessed life: Golf, friends, and links in Scotland. In this case, Lundin Golf Club outside of St. Andrews where a grand golf mate, Doug Ferguson, was a wee bit long and left on a par 3 while yours truly was, per usual, victimized by a left-to-right wind that took a fade on an adventurous ride into gorse right of the green.

Two searches lasted several minutes when finally, from right of the green, the question was shouted out: “You got yours?” Fergie replied in the negative but added that there was good news. “I didn’t find my ball but I found Arthur.”

Bounding out of some trees and bushes where he had been in search of an errant shot on another hole, Art Spander smiled broadly at what he considered a stroke of good fortune. Out as a single, he was now going to round out a three-ball of golf writers to meander along an Old Tom Morris and James Braid design that adds mightily to the golf richness in Fife.

Likely, given his colleagues that day, wise cracks were directed toward Art. Stuff like “Who was a better quote, Old Tom or Young Tom?” because beyond Art Spander’s sense of humor was matched by the pride he took in his expansive life as a sportswriter.

That memory, now 13 ½ years old, came to life last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am because despite the onslaught of rain and wind and no matter the treacherous footing and beguiling traffic inside the Monterey Peninsula, Art Spander at age 85 was at his post.

Years removed from those days when he was a fixture on the sports pages of the San Francisco Chronicle and Oakland Tribune, Spander writes for his own website – – and keeps connected to those sporting events that have been his lifeblood: The Masters, golf championships of the Open variety across the pond and here, Wimbledon, the pro tennis stop at Indian Wells, the “Crosby” at Pebble Beach, all pro team stuff in the Bay area (49ers, Giants, Warriors), and most preciously of all, the Rose Bowl.

All the accolades and lifetime achievement honors have come his way, from the Masters and PGA of America, the Golf Writers Association of America (Spander has earned first-place writing honors in five different decades) and California sportswriters, from the NFL and Rose Bowl Hall of Fame organizers.

Now younger generations who possibly have never seen a newspaper, let alone worked for one, cover sports in a style that many of us cannot not relate to. But to be fair, their audiences are different and so, too, are their bosses and their technologies. There is no right or wrong, no better or worse. It is simply time marching on.

But to pass by Spander’s seat in the media center last week and not stop to study his surroundings is to overlook the beauty to this marvelous story. Art Spander is still able to attend some sporting events and still able to show a passion for the written word because of one of life’s most sacred gifts – a loving spouse.

Closing in on her 62nd wedding anniversary to Art, Liz Spander is a study in selflessness. Unable to drive because of failing eyesight, Art Spander depends on Liz to get him to those few sporting events he still wants to attend, to help set up his laptop, to be his eyes, his ears, his editor.

“She does all the things I should be doing,” he said.

The words . . . well, they are still Art’s and they are as efficient and accurate as ever. He doesn’t write with the biting and pontificating style that is today, and for that we should feel relieved. But Art Spander personifies what Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”

As for Liz Spander, she gloriously makes you think of the power in those words that married couples once spoke to one another. “You mean ‘For better, for worse,’ ” she said with a smile when asked what motivated her to be so committed to her husband’s desire to continue to write.

“I do it because he wants to do it. It makes him happy,” she said. “He loves writing and to be around people and because he can’t really watch the games he has always loved – his eyesight is just not that good – writing gives him joy.”

Who among us has the right to decide when others should stop fulfilling their dreams. Who among us is wiser than Michelangelo who subscribed to basic philosophies – Do what makes you feel vibrant . . . believe you’re never too old to create.

Art Spander got his first job in journalism 63 years ago, became a beat writer 61 years ago, and attended the first of 70 straight Rose Bowls a lifetime ago. (“Not counting that one in Texas. That wasn’t the Rose Bowl,” Art snarled about the 2021 edition that could not be played in California because of COVID.)

Ah, but what has made all of this possible is what happened in 1962. He married Liz, the two of them Los Angeles natives.

“My mom has always been the rock in that marriage,” said Wendy, one of their two daughters who lives near her parents in Oakland.

“She has sacrificed a lot through the years – her vacations around the U.S. Open (which is in June, usually their wedding anniversary) and the British Open. There would be no Art without Liz and he is grateful – as are we. She is dedicated and devoted and there is no one else like her.”

In the summer of 2022, Art Spander thought it was fitting to cover his last Open Championship at the Old Course. Only he got sick while covering Wimbledon and it lingered into the golf at St. Andrews. “He didn’t want that to be the way he covered his final Open,” said Liz, who agreed to accompany her husband to Royal Hoylake last July for a more proper farewell.

For years Liz has worked for a travel agency so these journeys sometimes are a labor of love for her, too. But it’s heartwarming how officials with Augusta National and the R&A, as well as those sisters behind Hunter Public Relations at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – Karen Moraghan and Kristen Hunter – do so much to be accommodating to Art and Liz Spander.

Such endearing treatment offers a reminder that those who witnessed history and who left us so many dispatches of glorious sports moments have earned the right to remain a part of the landscape, should they so desire.

Respect is a valuable commodity; readily available should you know how to show it and cheers to those who do.

Commitment is a priceless human strength and to those, such as Liz Spander, who embody it, we salute you.

“She is dedicated and devoted and there is no one else like her,” said Wendy.