Buck was struck by lightning!
“Buck” started life with the odds against him. No one outside of his grandfather, who was a gravedigger, and his mother, who raised him in a three-room shack without plumbing, cared about his future. His father, Joe, had deserted the family when Buck was a baby and the world was a cold, hard place, as he soon learned when he started picking cotton at age five. Call it fate or luck, but Buck’s dirt poor, yet loving home was located 100 yards from the seventh fairway at the Dallas Athletic Club.
His road to the Golf Hall of Fame had many twists and turns, but his uncle gets credit for starting young Buck on his journey. The simple gift of a few used golf balls and an old, discarded club gave the youngster the incentive and motivation to take up the game - in secret. Since he had no money to join a golf club and his family was beyond poor, Buck would sneak onto local golf courses around his hometown of Dallas, Texas and practice developing his skills. He never once had a swing coach or an instructor during his entire career.
At 14, he quit school to work full time at the Dallas Athletic Club as a shoe shiner and caddie for the enormous sum of $30 per week. He would practice each day after work and hit hundreds of shots on the range and play the three holes for caddies behind the caddy shack.
He often earned extra income by playing and betting other caddies and local competitors on the golf course. (He once claimed in later years that he beat challengers on the course with only a shovel and a 32-ounce glass Dr. Pepper bottle wrapped in tape).
At 17, he joined the Marines and continued to play golf. He had a four-year enlistment and among other duties, played in Armed Forces Golf events in Asia. After his discharge from the Marines, he returned to Texas and became a head pro at an El Paso golf club and again supplemented his income by gambling for high stakes in head to head matches.
The Rest of the Story:
Lee Buck Trevino, the little-known golfer from Texas, was first noticed when he played in the 1967 US Open and came in fifth place, eight shots behind Jack Nicklaus. His paycheck for that victory was $6,000 and by the end of his first year on tour, he earned over $26,000 and was named Rookie of the Year by Golf Digest.
During his career, he won a total of 29 times on the PGA Tour. Although he never won the Masters, he did win six major championships, including the US Open (1968, 1971), the Open Championship (1971, 1972) and the PGA Championship (1974, 1984).
His playing style, as you know, was self-taught and he relied on a strong grip and open stance to combat a hook, which resulted in his trademark fade.
Growing up in poverty made him a strong person, but bad luck tested his character at least three separate times in his life.
In 1975, he was struck by lightning at the Western Open and needed surgery to remove a damaged spinal disk. In his personal life, he also had bad luck in his investments and lost two separate fortunes on bad business ventures.
The golf world and his fans nicknamed him Super Mex, for his showmanship on the course and his consistent wins around the globe. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1981.
19th Hole Trivia:
• Lee Trevino has a major avenue named after him in El Paso, Texas.
• He played in the Ryder Cup six times with a 17-7-6, win-loss and half record.
• He won the Vardon Trophy six times for the lowest scoring average.
• Trevino had a cameo appearance in the 1996 movie “Happy Gilmore.”