Words From The Wise
In this, Golf World's fourth installment of Words From The Wise, we give two foursomes of special golf folks the tee to talk -- to tell stories, celebrate triumphs, rue a loss or two and share the wisdom of their years.
March 27, 2014
"How do we make the game of golf accessible again to regular people? That's a hell of a question. For one thing, the pros have to do a better job of connecting with the fans. I see players and I wonder sometimes when they ignore the press why they're not interested. It may be that the money just came too easy for them. ... It's something that I tried to create -- the money, the purses -- and it may be working a little in reverse. Players need to remember they didn't make golf. Golf made them."
Mike (Fluff) Cowan
"Being on time is really important. I've been late once my entire caddieing career. It was the San Antonio Open in 1976, my first year. I was working for Bob Zender. It was a 36-hole Sunday final because we'd had some rain, and I was late getting there. All he said to me was, 'I don't need you today.' That was the last time I was ever late for caddieing."
"There's a satisfaction in still being relevant at my age and convincing people golf is still about scoring instead of just how far you can hit the ball. I'm enjoying this stage of my career."
Juan (Chi Chi) Rodriguez
"I got out of some speeding tickets. I carried my driver's license in my golf bag, which was in the trunk, and an extra dozen balls. Most of the troopers played golf."
"I quit the tour to design golf courses, then went back when I was 45 because of the recession. On Sunday at Hilton Head in '75, I had a chance to win. On the 16th, I topped my drive. On 17, I shanked it. On 18, hit my drive so far right, it almost went O.B. I choked my ass off. I rode to Greensboro with Miller Barber and got in the back seat with a bottle of scotch and had a long talk with myself. I decided I'd choked because of the fear of failure. Well, golfers fail all the time. Everybody chokes to some degree, but they still win. It's a mental game. ... By the time we got to Greensboro, I'd decided I could handle it. Never choked again. The next year, I won the Vardon Trophy."
"I made friends with introverts. [Ben] Hogan, [Joe] DiMaggio, Cliff Roberts. I was into oratory even as a child, and I guess my gift of gab broke down their walls. Once I was playing at Augusta with Cliff. We got to the 15th and I said something about wanting to be cremated and having my ashes spread in the pond that guards the green. Cliff acted very put-off, saying in that deep voice, 'Augusta National is a golf course, not a cemetery.' A few years later Cliff shot himself, and when I saw his secretary I asked where Cliff was buried. She said, 'Oh, didn't you know? He was cremated and had his ashes spread over the pond on 15.' So I've got to change my plans."
"I'm one of five players to win three different USGA championships. And if there were a U.S. Senior Women's Open, I'd have four. It's long, long overdue for there to be a Senior Women's Open. ... It would be nice to have the USGA finally get off their duff. That would give us a little prestige. I can show them how to spend a little of that Fox TV money."
Joe Louis Barrow Jr.
"Golf's leadership needs to be more diverse. There are not enough blacks at the PGA Tour. There are not enough blacks at the USGA. There are not enough blacks, period. The First Tee probably has the most diverse population anywhere in the golf industry. Unless the current leaders make a commitment, it won't happen. Diversity means women and men of diverse backgrounds playing important roles: chief operating officers and chief marketing officers. They have to be given the chance to come up through the ranks."