Golf Digest editors picks

My Shot: Thomas (Boo) Weekley

Your atypical tour pro on combat with opponents, orangutans and alligators.

Weekley

Boo Weekley, photographed on Sept. 25, 2007, in Madison, Miss.

December 2007

Age 34,
Jay, Florida

I played the mini-tours for a lot of years, and man, you see some weird things out there. There are a lot of desperate people, strange personalities and marginal players, and with that you're going to see some cheating. I was playing one time with one guy who had a reputation for being a talented cheater. He hooked it into some trees, and before I walked over to my ball in the fairway I saw his ball in some small roots. As he walked around sizing up his shot, he knocked the glove out of his back pocket, and it landed in the vicinity of his ball. When he hit the shot, a big cloud of dirt flew up, which was impossible because his ball had been sitting in all this wood.

When his ball hit the green, I said, "Whoa, hold on. We're going back to that spot to have a little look at your divot." Sure enough, the divot was well behind the roots. "You're out of here, buddy," I said, and next thing I know, he shoves me.

"You touch me again, and I will knock you out," I told him, and called for some officials. They took him off the course right there.

The mini-tours were so unpredictable. On the last day of a tournament in Alabama, me and another guy are tied for the lead when he hooks it left toward some water. "Get down!" I said. "Sit! Land soft!" His ball goes in the water anyway. He growls at me, "Don't ever talk to my golf ball."

"Hey," I said, "I was just trying to be nice."

He said, "I think I'm going to kick your ass," and the next thing you know, we're on the ground, rolling around, throwing punches. Two things happened within the next 30 minutes: I got back on my feet before he did, and I won the tournament.

One Friday night when I was 16, a bunch of us went to the county fair. A truck pulled in there, sort of away from the midway, and we watched a guy get out and put together a big cage he had in the bed of the truck. After he got the cage together, he put up a little table. Then he went to the cab of the truck and brings out an orangutan. He starts yelling: "Five to win fifty! Who can beat the orangutan? Pay $5 to try and get $50 if you can whip him!"

We'd never seen anything like that before. We decided that one of us had to try, and I drew the short straw. Five of us put up a buck each, and I gave the guy with the truck $5. Before helping me into the boxing gloves and headgear, he made me sign a waiver. Looking back, that was a bad sign.

I got in the ring. The orangutan didn't look like much. He came up about to my chest, though his arms were as long as he was tall. When the match started, he didn't lift his arms. He kept them down at his side and used them to pivot and follow me as I circled him like Muhammad Ali. I just didn't see how I could miss. My strategy was to fake with my right hand, and when the orangutan tried to block the punch, I'd throw my left.

My buddies were going wild. "Get him, Boo! Kick his butt!" They really wanted that $50. I moved in close and faked with my right, and that's the last thing I remember. I woke up bleeding in the back of a friend's pickup. The orangutan had knocked me cold with one punch, which I didn't even see coming. My friends thought it was hilarious. They said I had a glass jaw and called me "Glassy" the rest of the night.

After I came to, we watched this orangutan knock out guy after guy. Not one guy could lay a glove on him. He had reflexes like a cat, and later I learned that an orangutan can tear a guy's arm off.

I've always half-denied this story -- even though I was a kid and it happened almost 20 years ago, I can see the animal-rights people protesting. I don't think orangutan fighting goes on anymore, which is a good thing. It probably wasn't fair for the orangutan, and it sure as heck wasn't good for me. The only winner was the guy driving the truck.

The tour life is real tough on a marriage. To the young guy who is just getting his PGA Tour card and is in a serious relationship, my advice is to wait three years before getting married. You need a spell to find out if the relationship can stand up to the travel, moving, the being gone from home and so on. If it can, greatyou can ease right into the marriage. If not, there's no harm done.

The gossip mill on tour is always turning. I have to be a little careful about what I tell guys who I don't consider close friends, because even though they might not spread it to other players, they'll usually tell their wives. And once the wives get it, it's gone.

The first time I made it to the PGA Tour, in 2002, I had a dollar number in mind: $8 million. Through prize money, investments and whatever else, that's how much I figured I needed to have in the bank before I could make sure my mom and dad, my wife, my son, my sister and my two nieces are taken care of, and to take care of things like a cousin calling and saying he's in jail and needs help. Well, I had a bad year in 2002 and lost my card. I didn't get it back until 2007. Today the number is still $8 million, and I finally put a real dent in it because I won over $2.5 million before taxes. Five more years like this one, and you won't see much more of me. I haven't been out here all that long, but I'm getting worn out.

My son, Parker, is 6. When I'm home, he's right on my hip wherever I go. We're a team. Lately he's taken to telling complete strangers, "Hey, did you know my daddy won a million dollars playing golf last week? He's famous." I just say, "Shush, boy."

There was no cable where I grew up, and we usually got only four channels. Yogi Bear came on at 6 a.m., and starting at age 3 I never missed it. I ate lots of jelly sandwiches because of that show. My dad would imitate Yogi Bear; he'd come in while I was watching and say, "Hey, Boo Boo," and I'd giggle. He thought that was cute, I guess, so he just started calling me Boo.

Keywords:
Boo Weekley,
my shot
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