All in all I’d rather be at the big, lush-green, flowery giant that is the golf course at Augusta in Georgia for the final round of the Masters.
As a lifelong fan and sometimes very good and sometimes hack of a player of the game that so many people (understandably) find as exciting as watching grass grow, the Masters ranks right up there in my book with the Super Bowl.
I grew up watching pro golf from the time that the likes of Nicklaus, Palmer and Gary Player of South Africa–not to mention characters like the easy-going old gentleman Sam Snead of West Virginia and the hyper-colorful Puerto Rican Chi Chi Rodriguez–were featured on black-and-whte TV.
They were as much my sports heroes as Micky Mantle and Yogi were in baseball, and Sam Huff and Frank Gifford and Bob Lilly and Don Meredith and “Bullet Bob” Hayes were in football.
I always liked that golf was the most international sport in the world. (Players in contention at the Masters today include a 58-year-old German and a rising young star from Japan and so many others young and old from around the world. Tiger, by the way, did not play this year and is very much not missed with so many great young players like Jordan Spieth dominating the game and the major tournaments now.)
Then along came Lee Trevino, the happy Dallas street hustler who grew up taking well-to-do Dallas golfers to the cleaners with his trick shots, unconventional but effective golf swing, and a whole lot of rebel attitude.
As the great Dallas sports writer Blackie Sherrod once said, Trevino was “not one to hang around the locker room after a round playing paddy-cake with Jack and Arnie and the boys.”
I remember following Trevino around at what was then the PGA’s Houston Open tournament a hundred years ago, when Trevino was at the top of his game and drawing huge galleries by bantering with his followers.
I remember him hitting a drive and walking down the fairway while a heavily intoxicated white man in the gallery staggered along heckling him, throwing a tense damper on the fun.
“Come on you g——- Mescan,” the drunk slurred.
Trevino just kept walking along near the rope toward his ball in the fairway, dead-eyeing the heckler with an icy stare but much admirable restraint. Somebody from golf officialdom, along with a Houston Police Officer, quickly came along (thank God) and ushered him off the course.
Trevino just went back to his game like the classy professional that he is and all golfers tend to be.
It’s another reason I always loved the game. It’s pretty much exclusively for ladies and gentlemen who respect the game and each other, even if intense disagreements arise.
Trevino can call out golfers today for being “gutless” (which he’s done), and will gain far more respect than he’ll lose from any young turks who may indeed be a bit gutless.
Young turks in golf always defer to their elder champions.
Trevino has always been one of the classiest, most jovial and no-nonsense rebels in American sports.
And as longtime cultists here at the Cult of the Jitterbug know, no-nonsense rebels in any field, who “keep it real” with and do so with class, are my kind of folk. (Merle Haggard anybody?)
Here’s what Trevino had to say about the current crop of great but “gutless golfers” a few days before the current Masters–which Dallas boy Jordan Spieth (another classy golfer who definitely did not grow up a scrappy street hustler) is owning for the second year in a row–began:
“If you go there now and try to use a cell phone they will kick you out, even if you are using it in the parking lot or on the driving range. The players can’t even use them on the driving range. Have you heard one of them complain yet? No, because they are gutless.” Trevino points out this acquiescence wouldn’t fly at other tournaments. “If they went to the U.S. Open and the U.S. Open told them they couldn’t use their cell phones on the driving range they would raise all kinds of hell. They’re scared to death.”
See the whole, very spicy enchilada of an interview Trevino had with a Memphis sports writer here while I go back to rooting for my man “Kid Jordan” Spieth.