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Trevino Tuesday

Lee Trevino: Doing these 2 things was 'the reason that I got so good at golf'

January 17, 2023
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Mike Ehrmann

Lee Trevino has mastered the craft of golf, to put it lightly. But he's also king of another craft: dispensing wisdom about golf.

At age 83, the six-time major champ is still sharp as ever. He hits golf balls every day, and he'll give advice to any golfer who asks him for it. Sometimes, he'll dole it out to those who don't.

Such was the case at the PNC Championship last month. Holding court on the range, Trevino ran through all manner of different interesting anecdotes about golf. But as the rest of us look to sharpen our own games ahead of the new season, this anecdote, which I was lucky enough to be a fly on the wall for, is one I keep coming back to. You can check out video of it below, but his answer came in response to a simple question:

How did you get so good at golf?

You can see/hear Lee in his own words above, but it all started in his early 20s, when Trevino said he started playing full rounds of golf, money games and, then, competitive tournaments.

"At the age of 22 I got out of the Marine Core. Never played an amateur tournament or a pro tournament until 1965, when I played my first tournament ever. It was the Texas State Open, and I won it. I beat all [Head Coach] David Williams' alumni from the University of Houston … afterwards he came to me and said, 'Who the hell are you?'"

How could Trevino come from nowhere to become one of the best players in Texas and soon, in golf history? He may not have taken the most traditional path, but he did take one that involved hitting lots of wedges and drivers. Hours and hours of them. That, Trevino says, is how he got so good.

"The reason that I got so good was because we had this par-3 golf course on about 50 acres. The longest hole was 120 yards; the shortest hole was 55 yards. And we had a driving range. All I did was play the pitch-and-putt all day, and hit drivers. You don't need any other. All you need to be good is a wedge and a driver. You can learn to roll [putts] if you know the other parts."

Of course, like any truly great ball-striker, Trevino slightly understates the importance of putting. But he does admit that the best years came when his putter was at its hottest, because his ball-striking was dependably rock solid.

"I was never known as a great putter. But when I did putt good, you couldn't beat me. That's the string I had in 1971 when I won three Opens [U.S., British and Canadian]. The hole looked this big. My ball-striking was always the same."