Monday, April 21

Legends of Golf: Mr. Underrated, Billy Casper

“Underrated” has been following Billy Casper around for years. Casper was a great player who many people either haven’t heard of or don’t know much about.

Today at Legends of Golf when they introduced Billy on the first tee, his list of accomplishments was so long that he stood with one hand on his hip staring off into the distance until the Tour official finally finished.

“Where’d you get all that stuff?” he asked in mock frustration. The small gallery chuckled.

All that stuff. Let me run it down for you. 51 PGA Tour wins. Three majors, including two U.S. Opens and a Masters. Eight Ryder Cup teams. Five Vardon trophies. Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Later, instead of talking about his golf “stuff,” Billy wanted to tell me a fishing story about Howie Johnson. We were in the players’ dining room. Fred Hawkins was seated between us. Howie was on my left.

I told Howie I’d pick him up at 5:30 a.m., Casper said. “Wear something old.” Early the next morning Casper finds Howie decked out in a cashmere sweater, slacks and alligator loafers. I told you to wear something old, Casper said. It’s all I have, Howie replied. And off they went.

The stories continued throughout the afternoon, first in the players’ dining room and later at the Westin where the players are staying this week. They may not be able to play the way they used to, but meeting legends like Casper, hanging out with them, and hearing their stories is well worth the trip.

−The Armchair Golfer

5 comments :

Doug Kercher said...

I totally agree with you...
Casper was indeed a great golfer

Golf Bet King said...

Legeend of the game.

I'm too young to remember him myself, let alone seeing him play live in his prime, but my father and his friends talk about him in kinda hushed tones.

Great to see that he's doing well and getting the respect he deserves.

Wonderful how the golfers of yesteryear are such gentlemen who have so much time for fans.

Great story. keep 'em coming.

lancer said...

He was not only a great golfer, but a great man. I saw him on a USO tour in Southeast Asia and he was about as nice a person as you'd ever want to meet. He also put on a great demonstration.

Andy Brown said...

I think when we talk of legends of Golf it is not often that you get to hear the name o Billy Casper which is a real pity. In fact if you had to go on and make a list of the best non-glamour boys in the world of Golf Billy Casper would top the list. I think it also has partly to do with the fact that he had not won as many majors as some of his more illustrious counterparts in the all time winners list. But having said that there are not many who can boast of having won over 50 events on tour. He dominated the playing scene on the PGA Tour at a time when Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer were in their prime.

I guess at the end of the day it is the Majors that are valued more and despite being 7th on the all time list he did not find himself in the top ten of all time greats in the game of golf list that Golf Digest came out with.

In fact in 1968 he created a little record of sorts on tour by becoming the first golfer to win over 200 grand in a single season. How times change!

I came across a quote on him by Chi Chi Rodriguez who said “ Casper was the greatest putter I ever saw ... When golf balls used to leave the factory, they prayed they would get to be putted by Billy." Not for nothing was he considered one of the best putters of all time a fact acknowledged by most of his contemporaries.

The Armchair Golfer said...

Good comments, all. Thanks. Love the Chi Chi quote, Andy.