Don Shula was a Hall of Fame coach and an avid golfer who had a Florida golf course named after him

May 04, 2020
WGC-CA Championship Round 1

Joel Auerbach

Don Shula was an avid golfer, if not a particularly good one, an occasional bane for a man who had a golf course named after him, Don Shula’s Golf Club in Miami Lakes, Fla.

In a story for the USGA’s magazine, Golf Journal, in 1996, Dave Sheinen (now with the Washington Post) asked Shula whether it was weird to play a course with his name on it.

“Yeah,” he replied. “People think you're supposed to be good.”

Shula, a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach who took the Miami Dolphins to six Super Bowls, winning two of them, died on Monday. He was 90.

The USGA story noted that his handicap was 19, though that was in his first year of retirement, and presumably in the ensuing years, when he was playing substantially more golf, the number came down some. During football seasons, he never took a day off to play golf.

"The tough thing for me in golf was, I'd play a couple of good rounds in the summer, then I'd have to put my clubs away for six months," he said.

Shula had a home at the exclusive enclave of Indian Creek Island in Miami Beach and was a member of Indian Creek Country Club, where his neighbor was Raymond Floyd. Shula, in fact, met his wife Mary Ann at a New Year’s Eve party at Floyd’s home, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

When Shula retired, Floyd and his wife Maria invited Shula and Mary Ann to Hawaii for the Senior Skins Game. In a practice round with Floyd, Shula made a hole-in-one, with Arnold Palmer playing behind him and Jack Nicklaus ahead of him.

“Shula, who used to be known for keeping a stoic face on the football field, nearly jumped out of his shoes,” Sheinen wrote.

He was animated in retelling the story, Sheinen wrote. “So when the ball goes in, Raymond yells over to Arnie, ‘Hey, Arnie, coach just made a hole-in-one!’ I said to myself, ‘Am I dreaming?’”

Shula also had a Pebble Beach condominium overlooking the par-5 14th hole at the Links at Spanish Bay. He was a member of Tehama Golf Club in Carmel, owned by Clint Eastwood. He would spend a couple of months each summer in Pebble Beach.

In 2007, he was the honorary chairman of the WGC-CA Championship at Doral and presented the Gene Sarazen Cup to the winner, Tiger Woods.