Home' Australian Golf Digest : June 2018 Contents 84 australiangolfdigest.com.au | june 2018
was in the zone. It was an odd sensation.
Everything was vivid. My step felt lighter.
Watching myself on a USGA film recently, it
looked like I was strutting. Every shot I faced
felt like a foregone conclusion, like it had
already happened and all I had to do was
swing. It’s such a wonderful feeling. When
I birdied the 11th hole, I was briefly in a
nine-way tie for the lead. Anything could
have happened, but I felt like I was in control.
the fellow from the usga who showed me
that film kept pointing out that I missed a
lot of very makeable birdie putts. It’s true. It
reminded me how little stress I felt. When
putts aren’t falling, the tendency is to get a
little exasperated. But it was like someone
was patting me on the shoulder and saying,
“Don’t worry, you’ll make some putts.” And
I did. On the day, I shot 66. I made no bogeys.
That’s hard to do.
at fort bragg, there weren’t always kids
around to play with, so I’d play with the
enlisted men. There was a Sergeant Smith, a
left-hander everyone called Smitty. As I grew
up, it got to where Smitty couldn’t beat me,
so I started playing him left-handed with a
rental set out of the shop. Pretty soon I was
beating him that way, too. Poor Smitty. I took
a lot of dimes and quarters from him.
golf wasn’t my only love. I was a baseball
pitcher. My dad had pitched some, and
he brought me along. He’d catch me. I’d
hit a spot low and away, and he’d say, “No
good” and move his glove two inches. When
I graduated from high school in 1960, the
Cleveland Indians offered me a $25,000
signing bonus, which back then was
substantial. I passed – I was better at golf
than baseball – but I loved keeping my hand
in. In 1969, when I was still single and living
in Chicago, I hung around the Cubs a lot and
sometimes even threw batting practice. Ernie
Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Fergie
Jenkins, that was a hell of a team. Randy
Hundley, the catcher, asked me to throw to
him once so he could work out an issue with
his timing. My fastball had a lot of movement,
which annoyed Randy. “ Throw it straight or
I’ll get somebody else,” he said. “I can’t help
it,” I said. So he got somebody else.
during a western open one year, a buddy
of mine from Cincinnati showed up. He
was a huge horse better and had a lot of
connections. “Come to the track with me this
afternoon,” he said. “ There’s a race that’s as
good as over. I know who’s going to win.” So
I went with him to Hawthorne Race Course.
He handed me a program and said, “Look for
Tangohoochie. That’s who we’re betting on.”
I looked and told him I didn’t see a horse by
that name. He said, “Tangohoochie isn’t the
name of the horse, it’s the name of the jockey.”
We found the horse with Tangohoochie
aboard, waited at the betting window until the
last minute, then put down a bundle at 20-1 .
Our horse won by eight lengths. The owners
didn’t show up to claim him. When they did
the mandatory urine testing, they found the
horse loaded to the ears with drugs. As for
Tangohoochie, he got sat down for using an
electrical shocking device.
guys like my cincinnati buddy were
hangout people more than close friends. In
Las Vegas, I had great relationships with Moe
Dalitz, Lou Rosanova, Ash Resnick and men
like them. They knew what I did for a living,
but I didn’t need or want to know everything
they did. Most of the important people in the
old Las Vegas were reputed to have mob ties.
I knew they weren’t exactly Emily Post. But
one-on-one, they were smart, decent, well-
mannered and fun to be with.
here’s the lee trevino gambling story
again, with a little more detail. In 1965, I was
coming off a win at the St Paul Open and
had gone down to Tenison Park in Dallas
for a little action. As I played, I noticed this
old man watching in the background. It was
Titanic Thompson, the legendary gambler.
He introduced himself and said, “You ought
to quit the tour and come with me. You
can make a lot more money in the games
I’ll set up than you’ll ever make in those
tournaments.” I told him I was honoured
but that playing the US PGA Tour was all I’d
wanted to do my whole life. Then he said,
“Have you heard of a guy from around here
named Lee Trevino?” I said I hadn’t. Titanic
said, “Pretty good player. He used to work on
the driving range here. He’s over in El Paso
now. How would you like to play him for a
lot of money?” I told him I’d play anybody I’d
never heard of for money, anywhere.
Two days later, I’m in El Paso. The stakes
were arranged. I’d put up $1,000 of my
money. Titanic and the guy who drove me
out there put up $1,000 apiece, so all together
there’s $3,000 at stake. It would be a single
18-hole bet, medal play walk-in. No presses,
just a straight bet, low score wins. Trevino
didn’t put up anything. He had backers and
would get a percentage if he won.
The first day, I shot 65, and he shot 63.
I was down $1,000. The course, Horizon Hills,
was hard as a rock with a greenside bunker
maybe every other hole and no fairway
bunkers at all. Lee really knew that course. I
wanted to play him again. The next day I shot
64, and he shot 63. Now I’m down $2,000. I said,
“I want him again.” The guy who took me out
there pleaded, “Let’s go over to El Paso Country
Club. That’s a better course for you.” I said, “No,
I’ve never been there before. I’m getting to
know this course. I know I can take him.”
The third day, we play for $2,000, double
or nothing. We’re tied coming to 18. I can see it
like it was yesterday. It was a par 5, and we’re
both on in two. He’s 20 feet away, and I’m 18
feet. When he hit his putt, it’s not halfway to
the hole when I thought, It’s in. It just had
that look. It hits the hole, spins more than
300 degrees and sits on the edge. If you know
common Bermuda greens, you know balls
never stay on the edge. Invariably they fall
in. Trevino went up to the hole and waited a
little longer than the stipulated time. He put
his shadow over the putt to make the grass lie
down so the ball would drop. The whole time
I’m reading my putt, knowing his ball would
fall. But somehow it stayed on the edge.
Now I’ve got an 18-footer to win. I hit
that putt and drilled it dead centre. It would
have gone in a thimble. I was back to even
for the three days. After I picked my ball out
of the hole, I spoke Spanish for the first time.
“Adios,” I said.
With that, when Lee came on tour, I
honestly didn’t think he’d make it. He
couldn’t hit the ball high enough to clear a
one-storey clubhouse. He could move the
ball incredibly well, but I saw problems in
store with elevated greens and deep bunkers.
Needless to say, he adapted. I was wrong.
when i began investing with Bernie Madoff,
some close friends around Palm Beach,
hedge fund and finance people, warned me
to be careful. “Nobody knows what this guy
does or how he does it,” they said. “If you
decide to go with him, don’t invest a lot.” My
son Raymond Jnr is an equities trader in
Connecticut. He told me, “Dad, you can’t put
money with this guy. You never do that if you
don’t even know what he does.”
I invested anyway. Madoff lived seven
or eight houses down from me. The returns
were excellent. Not insane, but steady.
Moreover, he was like a bank. You could
‘FOR PLACES THAT
HAVE A NO-TIPPING
POLICY, DO YOUR
BEST TO IGNORE IT.’
9/5/18 1:54 pm
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