2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: Lee Trevino
KELLY ELBIN: On behalf of The PGA of America once again it's my pleasure to welcome all of you to what is the third and final conference leading up to the season's final major, the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.
Last week we were most fortunate to have five time PGA Champion Jack Nicklaus join us on Thursday, and Oak Hill PGA Professional Craig Harmon stopped by on Friday.
Today we are delighted to welcome a man who knows Oak Hill very well and who will be honored on August 7 with the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the highest award given out by The PGA of America, and that's PGA member Lee Trevino.
Welcome and thanks for joining us, and back to Oak Hill for one more him.
LEE TREVINO: Let me tell you, this has been one heck of a year. I was just thinking about where the Majors are all being played this year, and you look at Merion, I won there. And you look at Muirfield, and I won there. And you look at Oak Hill, and I won there. And they played Glen Abbey, they just finished yesterday at Glen Abbey, I won there. Mark Wiebe won the British seniors at Birkdale, I won there.
Let me tell you something, I'm not speaking to another person after this conference call until Christmas. If Santa Claus comes to my house, I'll talk to him, but other than that, I'm not saying a word. Now, you really believe that, don't you (laughing).
KELLY ELBIN: Wait a minute, is that possible for Lee Trevino?
LEE TREVINO: I told them, when they give me this award Wednesday night, I'm not going to say a word, I'm just going to say thank you and walk off the stage. That would be a being shoulder, wouldn't it. That would be a shocker.
How are you?
KELLY ELBIN: I'm doing great and really pleased that you took the time to be with us and to reminisce a little bit. It is, I would imagine, at least for Oak Hill, a little bit of coming full circle, because that's where it truly all started with you winning the '68 U.S. Open. The Kircher family, who you stayed with that week, who really left an indelible imprint on your life, now these many years later, having to come back and be the recipient of a major award from The PGA of America.
With all things considered this year, must be quite a thrill.
LEE TREVINO: Well, it is a great thrill. My family is coming up, which I'm very proud of and my daughter graduated from USC two years ago and my son is going into his third year at USC and Claudia, as you well know, we've been married now this year 30 years, which is absolutely great.
So just to come back and visit the Kirchers I've been back before, but not to Oak Hill. I've been back to when Paul Kircher had, I think it was his 70th birthday. We came in and played Monroe. But unfortunately we lost Paul about six weeks ago, but Barbara and John and the whole family are still there, and I'm going to visit.
But getting back to the tournament, a fantastic golf course, fantastic golf course. You know, people are always talking about the new equipment and these old golf courses and everything, and they have held their own. I mean, Merion held its own. They thought that people were going to shoot in the low 60s there. And I actually thought that the scores would be lower than they were, simply because of the rain. I knew that if it didn't rain, they had control of it.
But Oak Hill is a wonderful golf course. I mean, a wonderful golf course, and with the rough being up, I don't know what kind of a tree removal they have done. I'm sure they have done some trimming and moved probably some trees and opened it up a little bit, but generally, that's what they do.
But that finish, in my opinion, is as tough as any finish you'll ever see. You know, they talked about Merion and they talked about 16 and 17 and 18, but I'm going to tell you something. 15, that par 3, 16, 17, 18: A guy better have a good lead if he's coughing and leaking a little oil, or he'd better have a hell of a nerve finishing up, because it's going to be a tough finish. But looking forward to it. Looking forward to it. Unfortunately most of my game is gone (laughs). I've been meeting a lot of new people.
And the thing I'll tell you, Kelly, the thing that I can remember most besides not only winning there, but sitting on the back of the clubhouse, they had a putting green back, and some of the old members there remember that, and there was a golf cart there. Every day when I was finished, I would go down and putt and get a beer and I would sit on that cart and drink my beer and putt. Everyone thought that I was on the maintenance crew. No one ever bothered me. I never signed an autograph, nothing. Here's a little Mexican boy sitting on the cart; they thought I mowed the greens. So they thought I was on the maintenance crew, and I just wanted to tell you, that's the last time I had any privacy.
KELLY ELBIN: You said that week that you just fell in love with that golf course.
LEE TREVINO: I came in there playing extremely well. I had thrown Houston away, you remember. I pushed a 3 iron to the right and Roberto ended up beating me and we were tied going into 18.
I went down to Atlanta and I finished second to Bob Lunn in Atlanta, and I didn't play the next tournament. I took a week off, which I generally never do before a major, because I always want to know what's wrong with my game before I get there. What I did, I had an old '55 Plymouth station wagon and I loaded it up and drove up to Stamford, Connecticut to meet my old gang called Lee's Fleas, they called themselves. They are all Italian guys.
I drove up there, played a little golf with them and then I took off driving on a Saturday, I remember this. And I got to Rochester on a Sunday morning, and I went out to play a practice round, and I played with Doug Sanders. I don't know, I shot 69, 68, whatever it was, and then I played Monday with him. Matter of fact, I played all four days, I played with Doug Sanders, and I shot 70, 71, 69, 70 and Doug Sanders said to me, he said, "You know, it wouldn't surprise me if you won this tournament."
I said, "You're joking."
He said, "Man, let me tell you, this golf course is absolutely built for you: And it kind of was. Donald Ross built a lot of golf courses from left to right. In other words, they didn't go right to left. The only hole that I had a little trouble with was 1 because it was a little dogleg left. 2 was straightaway, and the par 5 was straightaway, which I think was 4. Mostly I could handle it with a little cut that I hit. 9 was a dog leg right. 10 was straight. 12 was a little dog leg right, I pushed it up there. You know, I handled it pretty good. I handled the golf course pretty good.
KELLY ELBIN: It suited your game, didn't it.
LEE TREVINO: It suited me. I was a hell of an iron player. I never hit it high.
I think the thing that helped me more than anything was I was a low ball hitter. I learned to hit it higher later, but I was pretty much a low ball hitter. I still had that Texas shot. And it rained overnight, almost.
We got a lot of rain. It was wet, the golf course, and I think that's probably what helped me more than anything, and the course was softer. It was beautiful, just absolutely beautiful. I fell in love with it, I really did. I think about it all the time. It was ironic that my first win on Tour, ever, was at Oak Hill, was the U.S. Open, and then my last tournament, ever, was the PGA, as you well know, at Shoal Creek in '84. Nicklaus was the same way. His first tournament to win was a major and his last tournament win was a major.
KELLY ELBIN: We want to talk a little about the Distinguished Service Award, and when you look at the individuals who have received the PGA Distinguished Service Award, it has the names of U.S. Presidents on there, and Jack and Arnold and players like that. You're being honored for winning your six major championships, but also very much a humanitarian side which I'm not sure a lot of people know all that much about.
Just wonder if you can kind of give a general sense of what it means to you to win the PGA Distinguished Service Award, and also maybe touch a little bit on the humanitarian side, some of the things that you've done with St. Jude.
LEE TREVINO: Well, this started way back, way back. This whole thing started I came from nothing, as you well know, and never had anything. Once I started getting stuff I think the best way to sum it up was my wife would tell you, that she can send me to JCPenney's with $1,000 to get a pair of socks, and I'll come home broke without the socks. Somewhere along the line, I had given it all away. That's just the way that I do.
I just feel like I have when I started making a lot of money, I started spreading it out to people. Mickelson, the whole deal, the over tip; if I see a guy that looks like he needs a hand out or something, I'll pull something out and give him something.
But for charities, you have to understand, that golf is actually the gateway in my opinion to all charities. I mean, there's more money raised for charity through golf than I think any other organization.
I don't know of any other organization that's raised more money than golf has, because if you are a baseball player, you're a football player, you're a hockey player, if you're just a businessman, and you want to raise some money for a charity, what do they do? They have a golf tournament. They have a golf outing and they go out and they do it. And actually, indirectly and directly, it ties the PGA into doing all this.
You have to understand, as you well know, and your father probably told you, and I've known you since you were five years old; that the PGA, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today, receiving this award next week, if it wasn't for your dad and Mark Kizziar and a lot of the old guys that helped me along the way, got my PGA card, and I was fortunate enough to win The Open in '68 and gave me a lifetime exemption. Now, when you talk about a lifetime exemption on the PGA TOUR, you're talking about something.
So I think that the PGA deserves more of the credit than I do, because this is what they teach you. This is what we preach, promoting the game, raising money for different charities and stuff. I've given away a tremendous amount of money, and I can't tell you how many charities that I'm involved with, because I don't tell anybody. It's a private thing with me and always has been. I don't want to be praised and I don't want to be put on a sped stall.
I've done a lot of work for it St. Jude. Danny Thomas and I were good friends, played a lot of golf together. The story has changed a couple of times of how he got involved with that, actually in Chicago with a priest and built that little place. I remember the first time going to St. Jude. I didn't like going there because the children were ill and it just broke my heart. It makes you test your religion when you see something like that. But the Lord doesn't want just old people. You know, He wants some young people, too, and good people. He takes care of them. He takes care of them.
But it started with one little small building and now it is acres and acres and acres, and as you well know, Marlow runs it now. It takes us about $1,800,000 a day to open the doors, and we are treating all children diseases now, not just cancer. So it's gotten big, really big.
KELLY ELBIN: Well, that's wonderful. Lee, thank you for that.
Q. You used an old Silver Scot putter when you won The Open in '68. If you can clear something up for me: I've seen two different accounts, one where you said it's the only club from your winning set still in your possession, and elsewhere you said you broke it shortly after the Open trying to take a little loft off of it, and you threw it away. Which is it? And the second question is Hardy Greenwood had a big influence on your career, and is it true he was one of the first people you called that night after your victory at the 68 U.S. Open, and will you reflect on what he's meant to you?
LEE TREVINO: To answer your first question, I think the answer on the putters is the Silver Scot that I used now, you have to understand, I've won tournaments with four different putters. I've changed every day. I had quite a few of these. Dennis Lavender, which was Hogan's best friend, actually built this particular putter for me.
The putter that I broke was actually a Bullseye that I used at Baltusrol, and I've never been able to find another one like it. It was an off set heavy blade and it was made in 1966, and I was trying to take some loft off of it and I snapped it.
As far as the Silver Scot reverse A, I think it's a 3852, I still have one in my possession, but I don't think it's the same one. I actually think I donated that putter for somebody. I always give these clubs away. I remember winning the British Open with Helen Hicks and I auctioned it off when I finished. These clubs, they don't mean anything to me; I know I did it and everything. But that's the answer on the putters.
Hardy Greenwood was the one. You have to understand that Hardy Greenwood and I fell out in the latter part of '66. I was trying to get my PGA I had worked five years under his class A card, I was a junior A and he refused to sign my application because he didn't want me to leave, and I left, anyway, and that's and that's when I moved to El Paso and Ishan Brenner and other people got the card for me.
We didn't speak for probably a year and then when I won The Open, yes, he is the guy that I called. Hardy Greenwood took me under his wing when I got out of the Marine Corps. I had taken up the game at the age of 19 to tell you the truth, and he thought that I had a tremendous amount of potential.
He said, if you really work hard and move enough dirt, you could play as a living. I remember Dutch Harrison coming through in 1963, '62 or '63 when the PGA was being played at the AC and Nicklaus won. And Dutch Harrison looked at me and said, you can hit the hell out of the ball but the grip is too strong.
But that was the old Texas boys, we all had strong grips. Hogan had one in the beginning. We had strong grips because we held on to the club to hit the ball low. I never did change; I never did change the grip, but I got to where I got pretty good with it, yeah.
Q. You talked about how your game fit Oak Hill really well. Who do you see that it might fit well, and among the guys playing well, be it Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Phil, who you kind of favor going into next week.
LEE TREVINO: There's only one guy that plays like I play, and if you look at him, I actually picked him to win the British Open. I thought he would do much better, which is Zach Johnson. Zach Johnson is a holder, he's a body hitter. He hits the ball extremely straight, and not a bad putter. He's done extremely well.
These guys are hitting it so long now that they are not using drivers anymore. And is so what happened, is unfortunately they got scared of Muirfield because they couldn't even hit a fairway with a 3 iron. I couldn't believe it. But this is what happens. But they are going to have to use that driver a little bit. I don't think the ball is going to run as much, because it's been wet. The rough, I'm pretty sure is going to be up a little bit.
But you have to understand, also, the PGA doesn't punish you like the USGA. The USGA, they want to force you to hit the fairway. The PGA will give you a chance to play. You have to understand, the PGA at one time, half of the players were club pros and naturally we don't want to embarrass anybody.
And if you look at some of the scores that the PGA has been won by, 15 under, 12 under, 11 under, and not so much with the USGA. And also, the USGA takes two to three years to set up the golf course get it ready and do all this testing and all this stuff. The PGA just wants to have a good championship and challenge these guys a little bit and to see what happens.
I think it's a little bit harder to pick for the PGA because I don't think the course is going to be nearly as hard as it would be for the USGA. But I like Zach. I like Zach Johnson a lot. He's been playing well. He keeps the ball in play. Snedeker is going to come in there pretty high.
They are going to a golf course that's going to be quite similar this week as far as grass is concerned, as far as greens. They are playing Firestone at the Bridgestone, so that tournament the people that are missing that tournament are going to be missing a good practice week, because it's going to be pretty similar, yeah.
KELLY ELBIN: Do the current players ever contact you for any consultation? Have you ever thought about helping out on a regular basis with any of them?
LEE TREVINO: I tried to help I told Notah Begay that I wanted to talk to Tiger about teaching him how to hit a power fade, and I've never heard back. And this has been quite a few years ago.
I mean, I can't believe these people hit the ball as crooked as they hit it, and they win everything. I just don't understand it. I would think that I would learn to hit a driver, whether it's 180 yards or whatever. I mean, it's unbelievable how crooked they hit this ball.
But I don't think that you know, with the short game that they have and stuff, but now, eventually it will crawl into the rest of your game. I still think Tiger is the best player out here. I love Mickelson and I love his short game, great wedge player. I don't think there's a man that's ever lived that has they always talked about me being good with wedges. I don't think I could have caddied for Mickelson when it comes to hitting wedges. I mean, this guy is phenomenal, what he can do.
And I'll tell you this: If Mickelson is putting, if he's putting well, I don't think you can beat him. I don't think you can beat him. And again, he's scared to death of the driver. And one of the reasons that they drive the ball poorly is they go past parallel. In other words, on the backswing, they get past parallel. And when you get past parallel, your body can't wait that long for the club to get to the ball. If you remember, Doug Sanders was a great ball striker, and why? He had a very short backswing; he could play in a phone booth.
So what happens is his body reacts to his hands and his shoulders and they stay together. They stay together. John Daly was phenomenal taking the club back as far as he did, but he came back slow, and he waited. His body waited on it, his body waited on his hands. Couples is the same way. If you watch Couples, Couples doesn't turn his body back. In other words, he winds it. He really coils his upper body.
But I don't think that they have a clue; I don't think they have a clue of where the golf club is at the top of the backswing. You know, I think they would drive the ball much better if they shorten up their swing, and Mickelson has done that in the past. And Butch says, well, he goes right back to it that long old backswing because he doesn't like people out driving him. But he might have found a solution. He found him a small headed 3 wood with about 13 degrees of loft on it and he hits it extremely long. I think Mickelson, he's a high right now. He's going to be tough as nails. He's going to be really tough coming in there, but I think Zach's going to be pretty good, too, in there.
Q. With three of the major venues being on courses that you won, there was a fellow that finished in second place each time. Can you talk about your relationship with Jack?
LEE TREVINO: I tell you what, I have such I'm trying to word this perfectly, but I have such respect for this guy. I tell you what, I have more respect for him as a family man, and it took me a long time to realize, in other words, what a dad is supposed to be and what a dad is supposed to do.
Now, I think his father taught him extremely well or Barbara beat the hell out of him. It was one or the other. I have never seen a man that participated with his kids I remember playing the World Cup with him, I believe it was '71, in West Palm Beach and we finished the round, and I said, you going to hit some practice balls?
He says, "No, jump in the car."
I said, "Where we going?"
"Jackie is playing a football game. I've got to go watch him." I think Jackie was about eight or nine years old at the time and he drove down to the field. Never in my wildest dream would I have ever done that it, even though my kid was playing, I would have gone to the driving range and done it.
But I learned something, and actually my son will tell you this now that he's 20 years old: I never missed anything that he did in high school or grammar school or middle school, and my daughter, the same thing. Anything they had, a ballgame or whatever, I did it. I learned so much from him, and I respect him so much for being the family man that he is.
But his golf game speaks for itself. Hell, I don't have to tell you anything about him. He was the best. There was no question that he was the best around. He knew it, we knew it, and everybody else knew it. He was good. He was absolutely he was in a complete different time zone than we were.
When he played, we weren't looking at a golf course and we weren't looking at another soul. All we said was, if we can beat this guy, this is the guy to beat; if I can beat him, I'm win the tournament, and you know what, generally, it was true. If you could beat Jack, you generally would win the golf tournament, because this guy was talented. This guy was the best, and his record proves it.
But he could do everything. I mean, you know, people talking about he couldn't play a wedge and all that stuff. Let me tell you something, you won't different 18 majors and finish second in 29 of them or however many he finished second in, and win as many golf tournaments as you won, if you couldn't hit a wedge, forget that stuff.
But I have a tremendous amount of respect for this guy. And I will say this. I'm proud to say that I'm his friend, and he's a friend of mine. We've gotten a lot closer as we've gotten older, and I have a tremendous amount of respect, not only for him, but for his wife, Barbara, because she's done a terrific job, because I know how hard it is.
KELLY ELBIN: Lee, those victories, whether it was in '68 or the PGA Championship in '74, did you feel that to outlast Jack, you simply had to take your game to a little higher level to beat the man?
LEE TREVINO: Oh, there was no question, no question. Every time that we got in there, yeah, I did that. I remember playing at Shoal Creek and I remember playing with Hubert Green and I, and we were playing the back nine, and on the ninth hole, dogleg right, Nicklaus hit it he was trying to clear the bunkers on the right and he pushed his drive, and he was in the rough. And I'm going to tell you something, you couldn't see his knees. That rough was rough.
Hubert and I were in the middle of the fairway, and I swear this to you, and Hubert will vouch for this. I looked over at Hubert and I says, "I got him now."
And Hubert says, "What do you mean, you got him?"
I said, "There ain't no way he can get out of there." If you remember correctly, that was when what was his name, the South African, Bobby Cole, put it on 17 left in the rough and it took him three to get back in the fairway. That's how high the rough was there. And Nicklaus was this rough and I looked over at Hubert and I said, "I got him baby, he ain't got no prayer now."
And I tell you something, he took a swing and a bail of hay come out there. No horse in the world could have ate this much grass. And the ball went out and it flew on the green about 20 feet from the hole. And Hubert looked at me and he said, "You got who?" We were out in the middle of the fairway laughing saying, boy, can you imagine how strong this guy is. He's unbelievable.
When I got in there, and I feel like he just turned me on. He turned me on. Arnie didn't turn me on that way. I just loved playing with Arnie and I was always in awe, so I didn't even know what the hell I was doing out there. But no one else turned me on like Jack. And I guess it was just the killer instinct in me, simply because he was the best. He was the best around.
Q. A little history I would like to throw at you and have your comment. In 1941 in the first premiere event they held at Oak Hill with the Times Union Open, and then the 1942, Hogan wins it, you go through the significant events Oak Hill has had up till now, of all the events, Lee, ten players finished under par for a medal play event on Oak Hill. You are one of them. And I just wondered if you can touch a little bit more about what is it, the defense of Oak Hill, in all those years, no matter how they set it up, that accounted for that.
LEE TREVINO: Well, I think first of all, you have to understand that when a tournament has major in front of it, it adds about a half a stroke around. There's no question about it.
I shot four rounds in the 60s there. I actually think that the golf course, with the exception of 15, I think they eased it up a little bit. I think, what is it, 5, they changed. 4, 5 or 6 I think we made about 15 hole in ones the first year that they changed that hole. After I won there, I remember going back and they changed that hole. 15 they made a lot stronger. Now, I don't know if they made the golf course longer. I'm sure that they have. 18, I've not played that hole since they have changed it. It's much harder I think than it is now.
I think that the condition of the golf course, the way that it's tree lined, with the big trees not only behind it, your depth perception is much easier to judge when you have when a green is surrounded with trees, your depth perception gets much better, I think.
But I don't see any change. It will be under par this year, I'm pretty sure of that. I don't know how much under par. You have to understand, too, that the golf ball is different today, too. The golf ball doesn't curve as much as it used to.
So these guys not only can hit it 300 yards, a lot of them can hit it pretty straight. I don't know how hard the rough is going to be. I'm sure it's going to be playable, but I'm sure you're going to be penalized also, yeah.
KELLY ELBIN: Can you speak for a minute about the greens there, any greens in particular at Oak Hill stand out for being severely, penal, tough, undulating? Any ones that come to mind.
LEE TREVINO: I can't remember too much of the greens that were too much undulation, unless they have redone some of them. I know that 15, the par 3, used to go along the fence line on the left. I remember hitting 8 iron and I hit the flag on the last day. Now, they have changed it down by the water. It is a green that if you miss it left, you could chip it in the water. It is a really tough hole. It's a really tough hole.
But I remember the undulation on the par 3 5, they put some curves on that one. As long as they don't put it on the curve in that valley, that's where they made all the hole in ones and stuff.
The 4th hole is I allay up hole. It's not a really long hole. It can be a dangerous hole if you miss the fairway because of the water running along the front of it and stuff. But I don't see too much as far as the greens are concerned.
You have to understand that the hardest greens in the world to read are greens that don't have a hell of a lot of undulation. Because when you walk up on a green and you see a hump on the right or a hump on the left, you can tell whether you're uphill or sidehill, you can tell it's going left you don't know how much, but you can tell it's going this way or that way.
When you get greens that are pretty flat, that's what's pretty tough. They had a lot of guys that had a tough time putting, not only were they fast at Muirfield over in Scotland, they had a tough time putting them because those greens don't have a lot of undulation.
KELLY ELBIN: Talk, if you would, about your two PGA Championship victories, your first win at Tanglewood in '74 and Shoal Creek in '84, particularly battling Jack down the stretch. I think you had a story about a putter that you got out of someone's attic going into that.
LEE TREVINO: I went into it the PGA and I rented a house there in '74, and the lady was name Mayberry. I don't remember what we paid for the house, but in I way, I had some friends of mine that stayed and his wife used to cook for us and stuff.
So we all went to bed and stuff. I had the upstairs bedroom, and I saw this door, and I opened this door, and I saw, it was kind of over the garage, and there was an attic. And I saw this set of clubs lying on the floor. And I could see a Wilson Arnold Palmer putter sticking out, in other words, by the driver.
So I went and grabbed it and I looked at it and it was absolutely gorgeous. I mean, it sat perfect. It had the right loft, the right lie. It had the grip the leather fat grip that's illegal now, it was smaller at the top and this was the grip that came on it.
We invited that lady that night, which was a Wednesday night, we invited her over for dinner so we could pay her and whatever. She came over and she said I asked her about the putter. I says, "Is it for sale?"
She says, "No, I'm holding it for my son."
I said, "Oh, I understand." Her husband had passed away about six months earlier. I said, "Oh, it's a beautiful putter."
She says, "You like it?"
I says, "Yeah."
She says, "You want to use it in the tournament?"
I said, "I'd love to putt with it."
She says, "You got it: I took it out there, Thursday, putted good. Putted good Friday. She had came back to dinner on Saturday night. I putted with it Saturday and I'm right there. So she comes back to dinner on Saturday night and she says to me, "You're putting pretty good with that putter."
I says yeah. She says, "I tell what you I'm going to do." She says, "If you win the tournament, you can keep the putter."
I said, "Really?"
She says, "Yeah."
I said, "Okay." So I win the golf tournament. So I still have it. I call it the Miss Mayberry.
KELLY ELBIN: You went out and putted on Thursday morning in a major golf championship with a putter you've never used before.
LEE TREVINO: Yeah, you have to understand, man, it's the Indian, not the arrow. It's not the arrow, you know. It's the Indian. Always remember that. There are arrows that are a little crooked and a little heavy and stuff, so you have to find the right arrow. But as far as accuracy is concerned, it's still left up to the Indian.
KELLY ELBIN: And took you ten years to get your second PGA Championship at Shoal Creek, and again, a golf course that not many people knew about going in, and a terrific test. What did you like about Shoal Creek.
LEE TREVINO: Shoal Creek, you have to drive it straight. I will fall in love with any golf course that you have to drive the ball straight. You understand what I'm saying? That's my advantage. My advantage wasn't putting. In fact, I wasn't even a great putt error a good putter.
When I putted great, you couldn't beat me, but I was an average putter. If I would have within a putter like Stockton, hell, no telling how many tournaments I'd have won. But the thing about golf courses is people say, oh, there's courses for horses. No. The only courses for me I don't care where we played. I would have loved Augusta if the rough would have been a foot high and the fairways would have been 20 yards wide. You understand what I'm saying? But you see, you can blindfold yourself at Augusta and still hit the fairway, you understand, because there's no rough there. And I didn't like that. I didn't like it. I thought it was a waste of my time to go there because I couldn't hit it far enough, No. 1. I couldn't hit it high enough, No. 2, and I couldn't hook it. So there was no reason for me to be there, because I didn't enjoy it.
KELLY ELBIN: And you were close several times.
LEE TREVINO: I took the lead twice after 36 holes, but other than that and that was because it was muddy.
KELLY ELBIN: Did you kind of mentally count out yourself from winning that?
LEE TREVINO: Yeah, I think I probably would have won if I wouldn't have had my run in with Cliff Roberts and I got to the point where I didn't want to go back.
But Shoal Creek, when I saw it, I saw the difficulty of it and I saw how straight you had to hit it. Man, I couldn't go to sleep at night because I wanted to fall asleep to wake up so I could go back out there. Man, when you got in the rough, it was unbelievable how tough it was. It was unbelievable.
KELLY ELBIN: You've made a lot of dreams come true for a lot of people. Let's close with just a question in terms of, again, the Distinguished Service Award that you'll receive on Wednesday night. How do you think you'll feel? I know you have great pride in being a PGA of America member and to be recognized by your peers that evening, I would imagine it has to rank very highly among your accomplishments.
LEE TREVINO: It's probably my in my opinion, I've talked to my wife about it and I've thought about it, and The PGA of America made Lee Trevino. They gave me a shot and they gave me a lifetime exemption, and I hope I didn't let them it down. I worked extremely hard.
There's no one that's ever played the game that has won what I've won, that has been in the PGA's corner. Matter of fact, even when the Tour was breaking away from the PGA in 1969, '70, I sided with the PGA Tour. I was one of the few, and I don't think anybody else was.
And the reason for it is because I was extremely proud of my PGA card, which I've been a proud member since 1967, and I didn't want to lose my card. I didn't want to lose my PGA card because they gave me a shot.
I sided with them, didn't make a lot of good friends, but that's okay. I did what I thought was right. And as a matter of fact, when I get up on stage, and I will tell those PGA members that I am the only PGA member that played the Tour that's represented numerous companies for years and years and years that's never done a store appearance, because you're supposed to patronize the PGA professional.
Today, I still buy my shirts, my golf shoes, golf bag, everything, in our pro shop at Preston Trail, because that's the way I feel about it. I've always felt that way. I mean, we were 29,000 strong. Who do you think promotes this game? We get up at daylight to open up a pro shop. We go home and it's dark. We are psychologists; we are doctors. We are everything. For a man, I'm going to tell you something, for a young man today that's a college graduate, and wants to be a PGA golf professional, it is the most honest, gratifying career, ever, but it's tough. It's the toughest thing that you'll ever do, because you're out there. Holidays you're not home. You're not home on weekends. I can't say enough about the PGA. People really don't realize how instrumental these 29,000 guys are, do you understand what I'm saying?
And I'll tell you something, it's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. This is why I think we should have a bigger voice in rules making and what equipment we are using and stuff. I really believe that, because we are the ones that are promoting it and pushing it. We have got people making rules on golf balls and everything else that go to work at nine o'clock and go home at four, and they are home on holidays. We have got to get this thing right. We have got to get it right.
Q. I wanted to follow up on your initial point on Merion, and wonder if you see that as a trend that will continue, and what are the challenge for designers in retrofitting in some way these courses for these long hitters?
LEE TREVINO: Well, listen, I think that the problem is our designers are making golf clubs for professionals, and I don't think that they are making golf courses, they are not developing golf courses for people.
They have got this campaign going, "While We're Young." What the hell does that mean? If the course is 8,000 yards long, has 400 bunkers on it, the greens are 8,000 square feet elephants buried in them, while we're young? Are you kidding me? You can't play that golf course in less than 5 1/2 hours, no way, especially if you're a handicapper. I mean, the pros are taking four and a half, four hours and 45 minutes to play. The pros, these guys are supposed to be so good, how come they can't play in under four hours? And they are not playing in under four hours, and that's because of the golf course, the toughness of the golf course.
I don't understand these architects, now they are starting to back off a little bit and they are trying to soften them it up. Jack went out there and says, play it forward. A guy that's a member at a golf course that's paying his dues and paid $100,000 to join, didn't want to play from the forward tees. He wants to play a golf course at 6,900 yards, 7,000 you yards, 6,800 and have some fun with it.
You know, golf has declined in the last four or five years and the reason for it is, everybody says, oh, it's the economy. It's not the economy. People don't have much that time anymore. You go out here and you're lucky if you can play in under six hours, and it's the toughness and it's what they do with the golf course.
What happened in the old days when Donald Ross and MacKenzie and all these guys were building, they took the best piece of property and went with the terrain and built the golf course. Today they take the worst piece of property, they bring the bulldozers over and push everything around and just make it harder and harder and harder.
We want to do the right thing. We want to get these people playing. We have got to get these golf courses like they were. Everybody says, what about the ball, the ball is going farther. Oh, yeah. And they said, oh, we have got graphite shafts, we have got titanium drivers, 460 CCs. The ball, they are easier to hit, they go straight. You think so?
I want you to look at the average handicap player in the last 15 years when all this new equipment has come along. Has not helped a damn one of them. The average handicapper is still 18.7. It has not helped them.
So it's just crazy, when they are doing with this thing. They are running people away from golf with their architecture and they have got to get back to building a golf they not changed the pool table. If you imagine if you were shooting pool and saying, oh, this guy is too good, we'd better throw some gravel on the table. How about a guy that's dominant on the tennis court? Oh, we'll put a couple of chairs on his side, let's put three chairs over there so he'll trip over them so he's not that good. Football players, this guy's fast, he's running the 100 in 9.8 in uniform? Okay, well, we are going to get him heavier shoes. What, are you crazy? I mean, this is nuts. That's the only sport that's gone farther and farther and farther back.
In my opinion, I don't think a golf course should be over 7,000 yards long. That should be max. That should be max. If the pros shoot 30 under, let them shoot 30 under, because they are not paying anything. You don't see them paying a green fee. You think the guys at Firestone this week are going in and paying a green fee? They are not going to go in there and say: What's the green fee, 260? I'll take a cart, too. No, they are going in there, getting free food, free range balls and $7 million to play Firestone.
But now, how about the next 51 weeks, now who has it? The members. Come on. You guys have gone crazy. You're going backwards. You're going backwards. We've got to do it. Forget while we're young. Can you imagine? Arnold is 83 years old, he's doing a commercial, "While We're Young". We are both gone; we are old people now.
And Arnie, we play every day now we play it up. Arnie plays it up. I play it up. Jack's playing it up now. Gary, I don't know. Gary I think still plays it up. But Arnold Palmer and I, I mean, I talk to Arnie, not too long ago, he loves it. He absolutely loves it. He goes out and he plays. We sit there and re shaft clubs, we do this, we do that.
I love him to death. I hope he lives to be 150 years old, and I hope he keeps doing those commercials because I think he's making a big point with this "While We're Young" I really do. I think people are really looking at that and I hope he keeps doing. What they have got to realize, that the problem is that you can't play any faster. You know, they are not looking at the slope on these golf courses. They are just too hard. They are too hard and too long for everybody.
I had an argument if you've got a moment, I had an argument with a guy at PGA West one time, Pete Dye built that golf course. Now that course is hard. I never for it get the first time I went there and I was hitting balls on the driving range and I had never seen a driving range like that. It looked like moon country. I said to a guy, I said, what the hell I said look at this driving range.
He says, you think this is hard? Wait till you get out there.
So I went out there and I played. And I told a guy, I says, we were having a drink in the chub house and he said to me, he said, do you think that course is I said, let me tell you something. I've never seen anything like that.
He says, it's not really that hard, he said, if you don't play the back tees.
I said, you don't think so? He said no.
I said, tell you what I'm going to do. What's your handicap? He said 8?
I tell you what I'm going to do. Tomorrow we will play for 500 dollars and I'll play on the up tees, I'm just going to putt your ball on the 150 yard marker and that's your drive, every hole, 150 yards on the par 5s on the greens in two, and then we'll play, even. Because if he missed the green, you know what's going to happen to it? He can't finish the hole. They have got bunkers that are 20 foot deep at PGA West.
But what we have got to do, guys, is we have got to set a limit. They are doing everything else. Why isn't the USGA saying the courses can't be more than 7,000 yards long? They govern everything else. They are trying to protect the game. I don't see anything wrong with that.
If you make a golf course 8,000 yards long, you can get more houses on it. You can get more fairway lodges. You can't have as many fairway lodges on 7,000 yards as you can on 8,000 yards. I guess economically that's where the whole thing is. But I'm glad to see Arnie trying to speed them up, I really do. I think it's fabulous, "While We're Young" boys.
KELLY ELBIN: Lee, this has been great, and I think you're always young in spirit, and I know that the Wednesday night of the PGA Championship week when you receive the Distinguished Service Award will be a very special night for you.
And those on the line among media, we will send you an invitation electronically and also remind you during the week of the championship that you're certainly invited to attend that evening for what will be a very, very special night.
Lee, thank you so much, really appreciate it and look forward to seeing you in Rochester.
LEE TREVINO: Tell them to talk to me Wednesday, because I ain't talking after that.
KELLY ELBIN: Lee Trevino will go quiet after that.
LEE TREVINO: After Wednesday, I'm gone.