The game of golf has produced some legendary players, many of whom have nicknames known to all.
Jack Nicklaus is the Golden Bear. Arnie is The King. Nelson is Lord Byron, Snead is Slammin’ Sammy and Hogan has two monikers: Bantam Ben and Hawk. But what about the lesser-known, more under-the-radar handles?
Today we bring you some of the greatest nicknames in golf history. Several are lesser-known, while some are quite famous.
Born to poor Sicilian immigrants in 1902, Eugenio Saraceni was completely self-taught. A quick study, he went on to win seven majors and is one of five players [Hogan, Player, Nicklaus, Woods] to achieve the Career Grand Slam by winning each of the four majors at least once. Saraceni changed his name to Gene Sarazen but became better known as The Squire to generations of adoring golf fans.
At 5’10”, 250, Craig Stadler will never be mistaken for a men’s underwear model. With a round face and bristly mustache, Stadler was dubbed the Walrus in his early days on Tour. It is a most fitting nickname for the 13-time winner and 1982 Masters champion.
George Archer won the Sahara Invitational on this date in 1976. One of the game’s greatest putters, he collected 13 Tour wins, including the 1969 Masters, then won 19 more events on the Senior Tour. As a teen, Archer found a summer job on a ranch in Gilroy, California, earning him the moniker, the Gilroy Cowboy. After his passing in 2005, Archer’s widow, Donna, revealed that he had suffered his entire life from a severe learning impairment. For 65 years, Mr. Archer could read only the simplest sentences and could write only his own name.
Before turning pro in 1967, Orville Moody served 14 years in the U.S. Army, winning the All-Service golf championship and three Korea Opens. He rose to the rank of sergeant, then joined the PGA Tour, where he became known as Sarge. Moody made his lone career Tour win count when he captured the 1969 U.S. Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston.
Tommy Bolt didn’t join the Tour until he was in his 30s, but that didn’t mature him any. He was known to break and throw clubs during rounds, leading to a rule prohibiting such behavior. Thunder was able to compose himself enough to earn 15 Tour wins, including the 1958 U.S. Open. Tommy Bolt was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002.
Born and raised in Edinburgh, Tommy Armour won the 1927 U.S. Open, 1930 PGA Championship and 1931 Open Championship. The Silver Scot won 27 times on Tour and is one of three Britons [Jim Barnes, Rory McIlroy] to win three different majors. Armour landed in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.
After joining the Tour in 1993, Tim Herron won four events and pocketed nearly $20 million in career earnings. As a teen, he worked at a golf shop in Wayzata, Minnesota, where he was dubbed Lumpy on his first day on the job. The nickname is fitting, as the 250-pound Herron bears a close resemblance to the Clarence Rutherford character on TV’s Leave It to Beaver.
At 5’9”, 155, Corey Pavin was never a long hitter, forcing him to play with dogged determination in order to keep up with the big bombers. The Bulldog did a good job of it, winning 15 times on Tour and capturing the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock. Pavin spent over 150 weeks in the top ten in the world between 1986 and 1997 and was 1991 Player of the Year.
Loren Roberts dropped out of Cal-Poly as a sophomore and turned pro after the school ditched its golf program in 1975. A superb putter, the 1995 Ryder Cupper was known as the Boss of the Moss and garnered eight Tour wins, then snagged 13 more on the Champions circuit.
Miller Westford Barber earned 43 professional wins, including 24 on the Senior PGA Tour. Mister X was a workhorse, setting the still-standing record for combined PGA Tour and Champions Tour starts, with 1,297. Barber captured his tenth Tour win 42 years ago yesterday, at the 1977 Anheuser-Busch Classic.
The 6’3’, 210-pound Ernie Els has a golf swing so syrupy you could pour it over pancakes. With 71 wins and four major championships, the Big Easy is one of the most accomplished players in history. The philanthropic-minded South African is one of the most likeable players on Tour.
Born in 1975, Eldrick Tont Woods in the only child of Earl and Kutilda. Earl served as a lieutenant colonel in Vietnam, where he lost his best friend, Colonel Vuong Dang Phong – better known as “Tiger.” Believing his son would grow up to be special, Woods called the boy Tiger in honor of his fallen comrade. Earl was right about Eldrick. He turned out to be a pretty fair player.