Saturday, May 15

Bobby Clampett Is Back (as a Player)

IT’S HARD FOR ME to believe that Bobby Clampett is now playing on the Champions Tour. But it’s true. There’s his name at the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the Regions Charity Classic in Hoover, Alabama. Clampett, who turned 50 in April, has put together rounds of 65 and 64 for a 15-under total of 129. He leads Dan Forsman by one shot. Forsman’s 62 on Saturday set the course record.

Clampett is best known for his nearly two-decade career as a golf commentator for CBS and TNT, but I also remember him as the next big thing when he came out of Brigham Young University in 1980. Bobby was a three-time All-American and two-time Collegiate Golfer of the Year. He was also low amateur at the U.S. Open and Masters during his college years. Clampett was destined for greatness, or so it seemed.

It didn’t work out. The player turned commentator won just once on the PGA Tour at the 1982 Southern Open. Bobby led the 1982 British Open after two rounds and then struggled mightily over the last 36 holes to finish in a tie for 10th. He had lots of seconds and thirds in his PGA Tour career and won more than $1 million (when purses were much smaller) but never really fulfilled his promise. What I remember—and I might have this wrong—is that Clampett lost both his game and himself and could never get his head right again.

Not that he hasn’t played since those earlier tour days. I’ve read that Bobby has teed it up on the Nationwide Tour and qualified for a PGA Tour event in 2008. Maybe the Champions Tour will serve as a rebirth for his game, another opportunity on the second-chance tour, just as it has been for so many others. One more good round and he’ll have his first tour win in 28 years.

−The Armchair Golfer

3 comments :

Average Golfer said...

I just finished reading "Homer Kelley's Golfing Machine" by Scott Gummer. The gist is that Kelley was obsessed with compiling golf's greatest instruction tome. Clampett became a disciple through a SoCal course pro that had mastered the complex theories of Kelley. Clampett was a genuine prodigy at the time and was expected to become the next Palmer, Nicklaus, etc.

I'll send it along if you're interested.

Average Golfer said...

Correction, the pro that took young Clampett under his wing was Ben Doyle at Carmel Valley Golf & Country Club.

The Armchair Golfer said...

Thanks, AG. Yeah, I do remember Bobby being tagged as the next Jack. There were a lot of young players who wore that unfortunate label they could never live up to.