A collection of amusing stories and humorous tales from 60 years of Golf Digest
Bev Norwood of IMG, on Arnold Palmer (September 1999)When Arnold played the British Open at Royal Troon , a photographer came out on a practice day wanting a picture of Arnold at the plaque marking the spot on the 16th hole where he had hit the famous shot out of the rough onto the green that won him the British Open in 1961.Arnold and the photographer go off down the fairway from the first tee looking for this plaque in the rough. After searching for about 10 minutes, Arnold turns to his caddie, Tip Anderson, and said, "Tip, where is that plaque?" And Tip, who had been watching this whole scene in very much bemusement for the past 10 minutes, said, "About 200 miles south of here, Mr. Palmer -- it was at Royal Birkdale, not Royal Troon."
Butch Harmon, on his dad, Claude Harmon (August 1997)Dad could really stick the needle in when you deserved it, without making you hurt too much. There was the time I was in Cleveland playing so badly I was ready to give up. I called home, told Dad I'd be back in New York the next day and was wondering if he could watch me hit some balls."I don't know what I'm doing, Dad," I said. "I've missed three cuts in a row. I'm just playing terrible.""Terrible?" Dad said, sounding confused. "Gee, I thought you were leading the tournament this week.""No, Dad, I missed the cut. I finished dead last.""Oh," he said, "I must have had the paper upside down."
Charles Price, on Sam Snead in the 1930s (March 1983)Onto this scene stepped Sam Snead, winning undreamed-of money with an earthy humor and a naivete everybody today thinks was a put-on. It wasn't. When he won the Oakland Open in January of '37, he was shown a copy of The New York Times by the PGA's tournament director, Fred Corcoran. In it was Snead's picture. "How'd my picture get in there?" Sam said in all innocence. "I ain't never been to New York."
Samuel L. Jackson, on a manners lesson gone awry (December 2005)I love to sign autographs for kids but insist they say "please." At the AT&T, I found myself near the ropes by a large group of kids, all of them waving their programs for me to sign. But I don't hear "please," so I figure it's time to enforce the rules. I announce loudly, so the whole gallery can hear, "What are you supposed to say?" The kids don't answer, they just continue waving the programs. I repeat myself, this time more sternly: "What's the magic word?" Still no answer. I'm ready to walk away when one of the bigger kids, with a look of total frustration on his face, starts mumbling loudly. Then it hits me: These kids were from a local school for the deaf. They're on their annual field trip. As the adults shot me looks, I started signing and didn't stop until our group fell a hole behind.
Robert Trent Jones Jr., on his father, the legendary golf-course architect (March 1993)We were at Spyglass Hill in 1989 one afternoon, and it was getting quite cold. I was driving the cart and left for a moment to do something. My father was in the passenger seat, and suddenly he hit the gas pedal. He's going straight downhill toward a lake, and he's in the wrong seat. It looked like the end. But he grabbed the wheel and wrenched it so that the cart turned sharply. He was still going pretty fast and hit two trees. Here's a man who was 83 then. He fell out of the cart, he'd turned white, and we were terrified. I got him back in the cart after we had all calmed down, and he says, "Bobby, I knew we should have removed those two trees when we built the place."
Jim Nantz, on his most embarrassing on-air moment (April 2005)It might've been on Sunday of the 2003 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, shortly after Davis Love had won the event. Clint Eastwood was in the 18th tower with me, live on the air, and I told him that Davis' father had been a huge Clint Eastwood fan."I'll bet you didn't know," I said, "that when Davis was a young boy, one of the first adult films his father ever took him to see was one of yours."Without hesitating, Clint turned to me on camera and said, "I have never made an adult film in my life."My first thought was, What did I just say? It's a moment I'll never forget, and one that Clint probably hasn't forgotten, either.
Jim Thorpe, on an awkward moment of mistaken identity (May 2006)I'm on the first tee in the final round of the 2001 Senior PGA Championship in New Jersey. I'm tied for the lead with Tom Watson and Bob Gilder, and I'm spitting cotton. When the starter introduces me, he says, "Now on the tee … from Heathrow, Fla ... please welcome ... Jim Dent."There was some nervous laughter when he said that, except from Watson, who thought it was just plain funny. When the poor guy realizes his mistake, I can tell he just wants to die. So I kind of mutter so people can hear, "Why the hell couldn't he say Tiger Woods?"
Jack Nicklaus (April 2004)Gary Player likes to say, "Jack is not only the best winner of all time, he's the best loser." The "best loser" part of that bugs me. It implies I'm adept at losing. I've asked Gary to substitute the word "gracious" for "best," or just say "Jack is a good sport," but he won't do it. He gets too big a kick out of complimenting and teasing me at the same time.
David Feherty, on Colin Montgomerie (November 1992)Every time you see him, he's got a face like a warthog who's just been stung by a wasp. He just never looks very happy. He came back from the U.S. Open and announced that he now felt he was one of Europe's Big Six [a reference to Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam]. Not a good move. He's since denied having said it, but we all know that's the way he acts. Anyway, a couple of weeks later he finds a note on his locker saying, "Dear Colin, Welcome to Europe's big six." It was signed by Russell Claydon, D.J. Russell, D.A. Russell and a couple of others -- the point being that they are the heaviest guys on the European tour.
Lee Trevino, on whether too much alcohol might have hurt his chances at the 1968 PGA in San Antonio (December 2009)That was an accident. That was when Gatorade first came out, and they put a case of it in my room. I was right there by the ninth green. And we were having a party Saturday night, and they were mixing tequila with this stuff, and it was pretty good. And they had all this Gatorade in the refrigerator in a big pot. I went to bed early, because I was in the hunt, only a stroke or two off the lead, and I got up thirsty about 3 in the morning. And I saw this pot of Gatorade in the refrigerator, and I started chug-a-lugging, not knowing there was tequila in it. I woke up blind drunk. It was a scorching-hot day, and I don't know if I ever felt so bad on a golf course. I think I shot 76.
Brad Faxon (May 2002)I was in third place in the Byron Nelson a couple of years ago with a few holes to go and finished bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey. I shook hands with Byron and Peggy Nelson and managed to stay polite, but I was slowly melting down.I got up to my room at the Four Seasons -- Cubby [caddie John Burke] was right behind me -- picked up a chair and started pounding it on the bed. Then I threw it -- and I pulled it. It went straight into this giant painting on the wall and smashed the frame into a million pieces. Glass shards were everywhere; I had to take a sock and pick all the pieces off the bed.So I call the general manager and ask him, "Are you a golfer?" He says, "Well, yes I am." I said, "Well, I was in third place about an hour ago, and now I'm in 20th ... and you're one painting short."
Phil Mickelson, on running away from home as a child (June 2009)I was 3½ and begging my dad to take me to play golf. He thought I was too young. So I packed my Flopsy stuffed animal and a bunch of balls into a suitcase, put my clubs over my shoulder and ran away. But I asked my neighbor for directions to the course, and she knew something was up. She told me to take four left turns. I did, and when I returned to where I started, which was home, my parents were waiting.
Nick Faldo (July 2006)When I flew into the country a while back, the customs officer, who obviously was a golfer, recognized me. I hadn't filled in the window listing my occupation, and he wrote "Sports analyst."I said, "Why not just write 'Golfer'? What about the six majors?" He said quietly, "We both know what you do best these days."Couldn't argue with him there -- though I wanted to.
Gary McCord (January 2005)The first time I played a PGA Tour event at Tucson was 1975. I came off the course on Sunday feeling very good about myself. I'd finished at even par, and I knew I could play even better if I worked at it. I cleaned out my locker and stopped to watch the finish on TV. Johnny Miller, the leader, is playing the 18th hole at Tucson National, a long, hard par 4. Miller's got 225 yards uphill to a back-left pin and decides on a 4-wood. As soon as the ball leaves the clubface, Miller shouts, "Go in!" The ball bounces one foot behind the hole, and he makes it to shoot 25 under. I just stood there thinking, Maybe I'm not good enough to be out here. It was a long, sobering walk to the car, and a long 24 years on tour.
Laura Baugh (January 2004)I've been around. I played with Colonel Sanders once. The Colonel Sanders, the Kentucky Fried Chicken guy. I was only 17, and what a weird experience that was. Talking to him was like talking to a Disney character. He looked odd in a golf shirt. I just couldn't get over it. What shocked me was, the Colonel could flat hit it. He told me he loved golf more than chicken.
Peter Andrews, on a trip to St. Andrews (July 1990)That the Scots are dry and quick of speech is legendary. Their talk is the conversational equivalent of the poisoned ear dagger. You can be dead on the ground before you know you've even been hit. My grandmother was known to alienate entire wings of our family wishing them a happy Christmas. I was struck by this when I went into one of St. Andrews' many fine bookstores. I counted seven but there are more, I am sure. I bought a couple of Balzac novels to read on the plane home. When I took them to the woman at the counter she wrapped them for me and observed crisply, "I see. An American comes to Scotland to buy French novels. It seems an Irish thing to do."For those of you who are connoisseurs of such matters, as I am, note the deftness of stroke and economy of line. In a single aside, a white-haired lady from a small town in Scotland managed to dismiss the United States of America, the Republic of Ireland and the literature of France. Well bowled, Madam, well bowled.