Money talks and missed putts walk!
Whenever my foursome gets together for a golf day, we usually stand on the first tee box and discuss the game we will play for money, lunch or the first pitcher (of “Diet Coke”) at the nineteenth hole after the round.
Over a number of years, our favorite game is a variation of “Wolf.” Each hole is worth one point and the players rotate; picking each other as partners for a combined stroke total on each hole. The lowest total score wins the hole, while ties carry over with a new partner for two points on the next hole.
Since our handicaps range from 10 to 25, this rotation keeps it fair for all players involved and the top two players with the highest number of points are treated to one of the spoils listed above by the lowest point total players.
During each round our competitive spirits kick in and winning lunch becomes a big deal, but I have often wondered what is would be like to play for the “big money” the pros have come to love and enjoy. You know … the really big money where on the eighteenth green a missed putt might cost you, let’s say, $300,000 in total prize money. Then the question becomes, “What would you do with the prize money … really big prize money?”
Show Me the Money Quiz
I am going to tell you the story of three uniquely different professional golfers and what they did with their winnings after receiving their payoff check. Try to guess the name of each golfer. (Answers at the end of this column.)
Golfer #1: In 1975, this current TV announcer for golf tournaments won the Pleasant Valley Classic near Worcester, MA and received a check for $40,000. Being a rookie on tour, he invited everyone at the local bar to drink on him, after he stuffed the “real check” in his pocket. The next morning in his motel, he awoke with no cash (he used his $600 in cash to pay the bar bill) and no check.
Golfer #2: In 1965, this future Hall of Fame golfer won the U.S. Open and received a winner’s check of $25,000. Refusing to pocket the money, he donated $5,000 to cancer research and $20,000 to the U.S. Golf Association for the promotion of Junior Golf. He also gave $2,000 to his caddie out of his own pocket to finish the day at a loss.
Golfer #3: This golfer can consistently hit a drive over 350 yards, but can’t keep his money in the bank. So far during his career, he admits to losing more than 50 million (that’s MILLION) to heavy gambling. After coming in second to Tiger Woods in the World Golf Championship, he lost his $750,000 winnings playing $5,000 slot machines in Las Vegas.
Honorable Mention: This amateur golfer hit a hole-in-one on the 17th green at the 1981 Singapore Open, finished the round, and then sat in the locker room for three hours, visibly distraught. He drove the sponsors crazy waiting for his answer.
19th Hole Trivia
• Ian Baker-Finch won a $5,000 cow as part of his winnings in the 1988 Bridgestone/Aso Open in Japan.
• Gary McCord’s sponsor on the PGA tour for his first three years was Lawrence Welk, the famous band leader.
Show Me the Money Answers:
1. Roger Maltibie was awarded a personal check for $40,000 at the winner’s ceremony and stuffed it into his pocket. That night at a local tavern, he lost the check and the next day the cleaning lady found it and returned it, but when Maltibie came to his senses that same morning, he frantically called the tournament director, who cancelled the first check and gave him another one.
2. In 1962, Gary Player had made a promise that if he ever won the U.S. Open he would give all his winnings to charity. A true gentleman.
3. John Daley, what else can I say?
4. Yoshiaka Ono, an avid Japanese amateur golfer, turned down $50,000 and a new car ($40,000) to retain his amateur status. I say show me the money and car!