Golf's Best Nicknames

Robert Hartman@@RobertHartman20Correspondent INovember 1, 2012

Golf's Best Nicknames

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    It's a zoo out there.

    Well, maybe not a zoo, but when it comes to golf legends, nicknames roll off the tongue as if the storyteller is walking through a zoo.


    Take, for example, this anecdotal reference of some of the best golfers ever:

    If Tiger does not catch the Golden Bear's record for majors, he might want to set his sights on Slammin Sam and his mark for the most PGA Tour wins.  His major record stacks up well with the Hawk, who has 9 career majors to his name.  Could someone like the Cheetah be the player that makes a major championship run?  Time will tell. 

    Oftentimes, when a nickname or a label gets attached, it can arguably provide a context or help tell the story of the person.  Golf scribes have long tried to attach these kinds of labels to the best golfers in the world.  Let's take a quick look at some of golf's best nicknames.

20. Ben "Gentle Ben" Crenshaw

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    A diminutive Texan.  

    A two-time Masters Champion.  

    "Gentle Ben" won 19 times on the PGA Tour, but he may come to be known best as a golf-course designer.  He has implemented his design style on some major courses in the world with his partner Bill Coore.

19. Brittany "Bam-Bam" Lincicome

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    She can rocket a golf ball.  And, sometime early in her professional career, somebody decided she could not hit a tee shot without a member of the gallery murmuring "bam-bam."

    Brittany Lincicome has a penchant for long tee shots, and her hitting style has meshed well on the LPGA Tour, where she has won five times, including the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship. 

18. Tim "Lumpy" Herron

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    Tim Heron has played on the PGA Tour long enough to know that his nickname comes with the territory. 

    And, the gallery's affection shows itself with each Tour stop.  He continues to be a favorite.

17. Craig "The Walrus" Stadler

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    He walks with a decided shuffle and winces at unsuspecting bogeys.  

    For Craig Stadler, being "The Walrus" just came with the territory, a sea of golf fans that wanted to capture his essence in a nickname.  It stuck, and he can't be too alarmed that it fits his persona and is appropriate for the way he moves around the golf course.

16. Juan "Chi Chi" Rodriguez

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    Anyone who has witnessed Chi Chi's "Toreador Dance" knows that the golfer is indeed an entertainer.  

    The Puerto Rico-born player has made a habit of winning the hearts of golf fans with a nickname at the forefront of a remarkable golf game.  

    A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Rodriguez won eight times on the PGA Tour and has 22 Champions Tour wins.  

    He is best known, however, for just being Chi Chi.  Some may argue that Chi Chi was an adopted name, and therefore is not a nickname.  This editorial staff, however, felt that he could not be left off the list.

15. Greg "The Great White Shark" Norman

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    Greg Norman is a golfer who literally took his nickname and made a brand.  It really does not matter that Norman might be best known for golf majors he let slip through his grasp.  Undeterred, Norman, a.k.a. "The Great White Shark," knows how an image can make a difference.

    The Shark has slowly ebbed away from the game, but his nickname will be forever linked to the fairways.  His blond hair, steely eyed commitment to game and off-fairway marketing have left an indelible mark on the game.

14. Eldrick "Tiger" Woods

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    He was really just a scrawny little junior golfer with a cool name.  Then, his will to be the best carried him to a period in the game that we will long consider the Tiger era.  One word—Tiger—and most people can understand the reference.  

13. Woody "Aquaman" Austin

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    He played one shot at the President's Cup and then took a plunge.  That earned him a nickname that will forever be embedded into the minds of golf fans.  

    He has a way of poking fun at himself throughout the arduous task of playing golf.  Just another golf superhero.

12. Ernie "The Big Easy" Els

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    Sometimes a nickname melds into a description about a player's swing and their personality.  This is the case with Ernie Els.  

    He came onto the golf scene with the same effortless approach that he uses today.  He swings at the ball with a flowing rhythm that could be coined the Big Easy. 

    He doesn't force anything.  He won the Claret Jug in 2011 slowly, just as his nickname indicates.

11. Joanne "Big Momma" Carner

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    One woman presided over the LPGA in the 1970s, and it was none other than Joanne Carner.  

    She was outstanding on the fairways and gave the tour a needed motherly approach to gaining recognition.  Her personality was strong and endearing, and she has meant more for women's golf than anyone else in the last 50 years.

10. Jack "The Golden Bear" Nicklaus

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    One great career, and he could have been a legend in another sport.  

    Jack Nicklaus was such a good basketball player that he could have contributed to the Ohio State Buckeyes national championship team in 1960.

    Instead, he did his work off the hardwood and on the fairways in Columbus, Ohio.

9. Ben "The Hawk" Hogan

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    The Hawk was the most common nickname for the heralded Ben Hogan.  

    He was maybe most well-known for breaking down the golf swing and implementing fundamental instructional points to help amateur players become more proficient.

    There is some speculation that, if not for the car accident he endured in 1949, his record would have been much more impressive.

8. Dustin "The Cheetah" Johnson

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    Graceful and cat-quick.  

    Dustin Johnson is a great athlete and an up-and-coming golfer.  Narrowly missing the prize at Whistling Straits in the 2010 PGA Championship, Johnson has been on the radar of most golf experts to win one of golf's four majors soon.

7. Paula "The Pink Panther" Creamer

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    It might be an exaggeration to say that Paula Creamer has taken a nickname to a new level.  

    But she has embraced the "Pink Panther" nickname, and it has evolved into a celebration of everything pink.

6. Old Tom Morris

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    The venerable Old Tom Morris may have won the Open Championship four times, but he has been woven into golf's fabric for his work in establishing the game we now know today.

5. Fred "Boom Boom" Couples

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    He just does not appear to swing at the ball hard enough to warrant a nickname like Boom Boom.  Yet when the ball explodes off the club face, the nickname sticks, and the ball doesn't.

4. Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias

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    She was an accomplished three-sport athlete.  And her legacy might be that she battled cancer with courage.  

    Her 41 LPGA Tour wins are impressive, but her abilities in basketball as well as track and field make her one of the best female athletes ever.

3. Brian "All Day" Gay

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    Brian Gay is a deliberate player.

    That, and the rhyming scheme of his surname, lend themselves to a tag.  It's not on his golf bag, but some have considered it an appropriate nickname.

2. Phil "Lefty" Mickelson

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    It would seem easy to nickname Phil Mickelson "Lefty." 

    But while he plays golf from the left side of the ball, he does most everything else with his right hand.  

    Lefty is a good bet to become the best in the game from the odd side. 

1. Fred "Chicken Hawk" Funk...Or, "Grand Master Funk"

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    A guy with several nicknames shows you his endearing nature.  

    If you don't have a nickname, it's sometimes a good thing.  But with Fred Funk, he has been called Grand Master Funk, the Chicken Hawk and probably some unmentionables.  

    His gallery has adopted the nickname Funk's Punks.  And he has been known to jam to "Give up the Funk" and "Play that Funky Music." 

    Enough said.