om Dreesen is not widely known in a celebrity culture that
pays scant attention to those on neither the A list nor the
K list (Kourtney, Kim and Khloe). Not that he is disturbed by it.
A comedian’s comedian with Sinatra on his résumé and Letterman
on his speed dial, it makes sense that of the thousands of jokes he
carries in his head, the one he tells most often is on himself.
It is 1977 and he is playing in the Bob Hope Desert Classic for the
first time when one of his playing partners approaches him on the first tee.
“I’m Hoot McInerney,” the man says.
“Hi, Hoot. I’m Tom Dreesen.”
“Nice to meet you, Tom. Sure hope we get a good celebrity. Last year we
got a guy I never heard of.”
Of course, around the game, Tom Dreesen is known for
much more than just being the stand up who for 13 years
opened for Sinatra. With apologies to his old boss, when
it comes to serving as a master of ceremonies at a golf
function, Dreesen is A number one, king of the hill, top of
the heap. You want references? The Hope, the AT&T and
Clint Eastwood, the Tiger Woods Foundation, the Arnold
Palmer Invitational, Fred Couples’ and Peter Jacobsen’s
charity events, and anyone else with a worthy cause. The
late sports columnist Jim Murray called him “golf’s com-
missioner of humor.”
“He’s always in demand,” Jacobsen says. “And he’s
always giving back. Speaking as a tournament promoter,
it’s hard to rely on celebrities. They’ll commit and pull out.
It has to do with their schedules. But every time someone
calls Tom and asks him to come do a benefit show, he does
it. He understands the connection between golf and char-
ity as well as anybody.”
Dreesen, who is in his early 70s, is a regular at pro-ams
and often gets his smooth swing or putting stroke on the
telecast, as he did last year in the final round of the AT&T
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, playing in the final group
behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. He is a favorite
among the players. Couples’ standard greeting when
he sees Dreesen is, “Tommy, tell me a new joke.” Woods
pumps him for new material. John Daly provides him with
“John Daly hated Poppy [Hills],” Dreesen says of his
former AT&T partner. “He called it Sloppy. He said, ‘I’m
never playing in this tournament again.’ So he didn’t play