When first bitten by the golf bug at age 13, you wonder how the old people (30 to 40 years old) can play so well when they work all week and only play on weekends.
After all, you practice four to five hours daily and play everyday too. Then, as quick as a wink ,you are 40 and wonder how guys in their 70s can still swing so smoothly.
The story goes on and on.
I still fondly remember the sweet swings of the past, those belonging to “what’s-his-name?” from the PGA and Champions Tours.
From 1991 to 2001, Jim Colbert won 20 times on the Champions Tour plus seven team wins, the most recent coming last week at the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf.
He was a frequent contender, often a winner and took home a bunch of money. Following a very solid PGA Tour career featuring eight victories over 13 years, he founded a golf course management company that he developed into a tidy pension fund for himself.
Although he was not a complete fanatic about fitness he did run the Kansas State stadium steps top to bottom several times every day, Talk about a great exercise for golf!
At age 60, he had some difficult health issues but has recovered and now simply plays golf for the fun of it.
Dr. Gil Morgan is the first person to reach a score of 10 underin the U.S. Open. He eventually got to 12 under at Pebble Beach course but unfortunately, couldn’t keep both hands on the wheel to the finish. He won seven PGA Tour events and played on two Ryder Cup Teams.
Where he found the real secret was also on the Champions Tour with 25 victories and three team wins.
Morgan graduated as a Doctor of Optometry but fortunately for us, he decided golf was more lucrative. He is retired now and splits his time between Oklahoma and California.
Loren Roberts still contends occasionally, but his name comes up less frequently than it did only three or four years ago.
After what must have seemed like an eternity he had to return to Q-school five times. He must have felt encouraged each time because all but once, he did qualify, but couldn’t earn enough money to keep it.
That is until 1994 when he began a nine year run of eight victories. He, too, blossomed on the Champions Tour with a total of 13 wins and lifetime earnings of over $15-million.
Mr.X, Miller Barber was one of most unlikely looking people who ever played on the PGA Tour. Most fans would select him as the person most likely to be a school teacher. Hidden behind huge sunglasses his rotund body swung the club more in the manner of a woodsman chopping a log, but could he ever play!
He still holds the record for combined events played (PGA and Champions Tours) at 1,297 and parlayed that into 11 tour victories and in an eight-year tenure, added 24 Champions Tour wins. He passed away in 2013.
During the same time frame, his good friend Don January won 22. When you add Lee Trevino with 29 it has been rumored that the other players considered taking a collection to pay them to stay home.
January won 10 PGA Tour events over a lengthy career and is best remembered for his perfect, rhythmic swing.
However, it is his off course accomplishments that will go down as being most significant. Don January was the innovator of the divide between the PGA of America and tour players.
The PGA owned all of the tour events and forced the players to conform to their bylaws which included an apprenticeship for two years. TV was discovering Arnold Palmer and the revenue on the PGA was increasing dramatically.
The PGA was enjoying new found riches, but the players wanted control of their own entity. Don January convinced Jack Nicklaus to help form a new company called the PGA Tour. The two signatures representing the players’ group on the original document are: Jack Nicklaus and Don January.
Today, he lives in Texas and still operates a course design company.
At the peak of their careers each of these players was totally dominant. They were fan favorites. Spectators scurried along the edges of the fairways to get a glimpse of their swings and now sometimes an old guy like me thinks back and remembers “good old what’s-his-name.”