˘ I don’t tan, I blister. That’s the reason I always wore
my collar up and a bucket hat. Trying to keep the damn sun
off me. Dermatologists love me. I’ve gone back every three
months for 30 years.
˘ The whole time I was at North Texas State, our golf
team only got beat once. We won the NCAA title three
straight years. I taught golf in the P.E. department for room
and board, books and tuition. That was my scholarship—
plus a $10-a-month laundry check. I lived on that $10.
˘ Back when I played, our sport psychologist was called
˘ My oldest son, Tim, once asked me, “How in the world
did you play as good as you did as much as you drank?”
Well, Wednesday through Saturday night I might have had
a drink before dinner, but that was it. Sunday night through
Tuesday night, I’d drink all I wanted.
˘ In the 1950s, there was so little money on tour, you had
to be in the top four or five to make any money. When I got
on the tour board in 1960, I pushed that if you played all four
rounds, last place ought to at least cover expenses. I talked to
Ben Hogan about it. He said, “You’re going in the wrong direction. You need to put more money at the top if you want to
produce your best players.” I got to thinking. Hell, he’s right.
˘ when I was chairman in 1961, the biggest thing we did
was get the Caucasians-only clause out of the PGA regulations. Had a hard time doing it, but we got it through. The next
spring, we played in Memphis. Charlie Sifford and Pete Brown
got to play. After the round, I went in the clubhouse and found
they were eating in the kitchen. I told the tournament chairman, “You know better than that. If you don’t move them into
the dining room with the rest of us, we’re gone in the morning.”
Charlie and Pete ate at my table after that.
˘ Gee whiz, it was impossible to get in the Masters. You’d
win a tournament, but it wouldn’t count. If you were a
foreign pro or an amateur, you could get in there and stay
forever. Then I finished in the top 10 in the 1958 U.S. Open
at Southern Hills. That got me in Augusta. Once you made
it, it was easy to stay in because the low 24 always got
invited back. I played for 20 years.
˘ I gave away the ’ 61 PGA to Jerry Barber. I still can’t believe what went on that last day. He hit eight inches behind
the ball while it was teed up. Twice! Holed it blind from [ 50]
yards. On the last green, he sinks it from 60 feet, down and
up and over a ridge. I’m rehearsing my acceptance speech.
Dumb. Going into the playoff, Jerry said we should split
the pot. I said, “Not today, Jerry.” I shot 68 and got beat.
Bogeyed the last hole again. I didn’t sleep for six months.
˘ I never played in the British Open. By the time you
went over there, even if you won the tournament, you lost
money. The prize money was so small. Plus, I never cared
for aiming at clouds all day.
˘ The PGA of America had the attitude that the pro tour
was a place for the home pro to play in the wintertime when
he wasn’t selling shoes. I was the one who instigated breaking away from the PGA in 1967. If you look at the incorporation papers of the PGA Tour, you’ll see two signatures: Jack
Nicklaus and Don January.
˘ I don’t mind listening to a guy beat his own drum, but
he’d better have a drum to beat. Nicklaus had a big drum.
˘ I wasn’t a bad player, but I was never like Arnold or
Jack. I played to make a living, not to see how many tournaments I could win. After I had made a certain amount of
money, I’d go home. A lot of times, I was home by July.
Sometimes, I was out there in November beating it around.
˘ I quit the tour to design golf courses, then went back
on tour when I was 45 because of the recession. On Sunday
at Hilton Head in ’75, I had a chance to win. On the 16th tee
I topped my drive. It scared me to death. On 17 I shanked
it. On 18 I hit my drive so far right, it almost went out-of-bounds. I just choked my ass off. I rode to Greensboro with
Miller Barber in his big Cadillac and got in the back seat
with a bottle of scotch and had a long talk with myself. I decided I’d choked because of the fear of failure. Well, golfers
fail all the time. Everybody chokes to some degree, but they
still win. It’s a mental game. Your mind makes your body
do things, not the other way around. By the time we got
to Greensboro, I’d decided I could handle it. Never choked
again. The next year was the best I ever had. I won the
Tournament of Champions, won the Vardon Trophy.
˘ six of us started the senior tour: Bob Goalby, Dan
Sikes, Gardner Dickinson, Sam Snead, Julius Boros and
me. Our attorney set it up so we were going to own it. Each
of us put up $50,000. I got a deal from Frontier Airlines to
sponsor us on TV. But I knew if it became a viable thing,
we were going to get into a pissing match with the PGA
Tour over TV rights. So I told [Commissioner] Deane
Beman maybe all of this needs to be under one umbrella.
Fortunately, it worked.
˘ I smoked for 45 years. Worst mistake I ever made.
I finally managed to quit. Of course, once I quit, I gained
50 pounds. Haven’t smoked for 25 years, but I have a hell
of a time trying to breathe now. Got emphysema real bad.
It’s a shame we have to be so stupid when we’re young. n
84, 32-time WiNNeR ON PGA AND chAmPiONS tOURS, DALLAS ˘ interviewed by Ron Whitten, Photographed by Darren carroll