The 25 Most Entertaining Personalities in Pro Golf
The sport of professional golf is blessed to be made up of well-educated, sometimes well-heeled and many times very funny people.
That’s the kind of combination that normally creates entertaining personalities, and those are plentiful in the sport.
Entertaining doesn’t necessarily mean funny; there are plenty who aren’t all that funny but are very entertaining because of what they’ve accomplished in the game.
Here's my list of the top 25 entertaining personalities in professional golf.
In a sport that is not short of entertaining personalities, David Feherty is the best.
At one time he was a reasonable player on the European Tour, playing for that side in the 1991 Ryder Cup.
His career never had a chance to blossom further because of some dependency issues that drove him to some very dark places in his life.
But from those ashes has emerged a marvelously funny writer, television show host and the best on-course reporter in professional golf today.
He knows the game, and brings it to viewers at home in a completely different way than his counterparts.
Roger Maltbie is another golf announcer who is as well-versed in the game as anyone, but has a wonderful sense of humor that separates him from the crowd.
He is a true foot soldier on the golf course, having logged many, many miles following the lead groups on telecasts for NBC and ESPN.
He played the game at a high level, winning five times on the PGA Tour from 1975 to 1985.
He was known to have an adult beverage or three during his playing days and often uses that reputation as part of his on-air commentary.
Paul Goydos is not one of those “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” kind of guys.
He was a talented youngster, but had to work hard to get on the PGA Tour.
He became the fourth player in the history of golf to shoot a 59, doing that in the first round of the John Deere Classic in 2010.
He has one of the greatest deadpan, self-deprecating senses of humor ever and was given the nickname “Sunshine” by fellow pro Jeff Sluman, “because of his ability to find the dark cloud in every silver lining.”
There are few phrases more galvanizing in golf than "Pete Dye".
He will go down in history on the short list of the greatest golf course architects. He’ll also be remembered as the man who could get under a golfer's skin better than anyone else.
His courses are visually intimidating, starting from the moment golfers step on the first tee.
Over the course of his career, he had no problem jumping onto a bulldozer during the construction of a course.
He’s a homespun guy with a great sense of humor and a lifetime of stories to tell. Imagine sitting up til 4 a.m. in a cottage with Dye and a couple of bottles of whiskey, just listening. I had that privilege the night before the ceremonial opening of the Pete Dye Club in Bridgeport, W.Va., a few years ago. It was an incredible experience.
A member of one of the great golfing families, Butch Harmon has been in the golf industry since 1965. He played on the PGA Tour for two years and won a satellite event, the 1971 Broome County Open.
He also served as the personal instructor for King Hussein in the 1970s.
Listen to him talk and you can hear how much the game means to him and how much he really knows about it.
He’s the King for a good reason.
Nobody has had more impact on the game of golf than Arnold Palmer did.
And Palmer did it not only with his spectacular playing record. He brought fans to the game with his magnetic personality, his sincerity and the way he made everyone he met seem important and like a long-lost friend.
Even at age 83, Palmer is still a force in the game. Players still seek his counsel, and he’s in the loop at the highest level of golf’s decision-making.
Jack Nicklaus is without a doubt the greatest player to play the game.
His record is unparalleled. While Tiger Woods still has a chance to surpass the 18 major championships that Nicklaus won, being the greatest ever to play probably won’t be attached to Woods’ name.
Nicklaus did it all, winning consistently, winning graciously and winning for a long time, getting his sixth green jacket at age 46.
Fuzzy Zoeller was cool before it was cool to be so. Fred Couples is today’s Mr. Cool, but Zoeller wore that title in his era.
Carefree, conversational, interactive with fans—all of those were right-on when discussing Zoeller.
He won the 1979 Masters (one of only three golfers to have won a green jacket in his first appearance at Augusta National Golf Club) as well as the 1984 U.S. Open.
He stirred controversy with an offhand remark about Tiger Woods in 1997, the year of Woods’ first victory at the Masters.
He has the effervescent smile, the thick curly hair, the game to win over 40 times including four majors. Phil Mickelson is all of that and a pile of career earnings, too.
But he’s the guy who is a go-for-broke player, one who thrills fans with the willingness to take chances that others won’t.
He’s always been very interactive with fans and “gets it” in terms of how being a great spokesman for the game not only helps himself but the game itself.
His upbeat attitude and courage while supporting his wife and mother during their fights against breast cancer have made him even more popular.
This is a true rags-to-riches story.
As recently as 1996, Tommy Gainey worked in a factory where he wrapped insulation around water heaters.
He then applied to the Golf Channel’s Big Break, was accepted and won the show.
He made it to the PGA Tour in 2008. After 105 starts and 48 cuts made, Gainey won his first PGA Tour event this year at the McGladrey Classic
He wears two gloves, giving him his nickname. He shot 60 in the final round, barely missing a putt from 20 feet for a 59.
Tom Lehman is one of the true gentlemen in a game originated by and for gentlemen.
If anybody in the game might have a tiny reason for being a bit jaded, it might be Lehman.
In three consecutive U.S. Opens, Lehman played in the final group on Sunday and didn’t win any of them.
But the soft-spoken native of Minnesota did not let those disappointments get him down.
His only major title came in the 1996, but he is the only golfer in history to have won the Player of the Year award on the Nationwide, PGA and Champions Tour.
Mark King is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Taylor Made Golf Company, Inc. and has been the driving force behind the resurgence of the company since the early 2000s.
He’s enthusiastic and upbeat, and has made it his mission to change what he called a downward spiral of attitude at TaylorMade when he took over.
He’s done so and his personality was on display in April of 2012 when he was part of the CBS show, “Undercover Boss.”
John Solheim is the son of Ping founder Karsten Solheim, has learned the business from the bottom up and is very familiar with the engineering aspects of golf clubs.
He’s also well versed in the business end of running one of the top equipment manufacturers in the game.
He’s not afraid to butt heads with the game’s decision-makers, going to court against the PGA Tour in a suit regarding the legality of Ping’s U grooves.
Solheim continues to be a leader, recently saying that the next big issue facing the game is how far balls travel.
Cristie Kerr has achieved the status of a world-class player on the LPGA Tour, having won 14 times including two major championships.
She’s won over $13 million in career earnings. She was the No.1-ranked player in the world three different times in 2010 and has been a contender for that spot for several years.
She’s one of the best putters on the LPGA Tour and has been one of the best iron players in the women’s game for years.
She’s become an advocate in the fight against breast cancer and in 2010 started producing her own wine, Curvature.
Stacy Lewis became the first American women’s golfer in 18 years to win the LPGA Rolex Player of the Year. The fact that she was able even to play golf after her traumatic early life is remarkable.
She was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11 and wore a back brace for 18 hours a day until she was 17.
After that, surgery was performed to put a rod into her spine.
She’s had a remarkable professional career, winning over $4 million and registering five wins.
Her success on the golf course has given her a vehicle to speak to and for children, and she’s become a very accomplished spokesperson.
Bernhard Langer is perhaps the most stoic golfer ever, but behind that face is a guy who is very witty and isn’t averse to having a good time.
Langer won the Masters twice and was on the short list of the world’s best golfers in the 1980s and 1990s.
He holds the honor of being the first official No. 1-ranked player in the world in 1986.
He played on 10 European Ryder Cup teams in his career.
Besides the PGA and European Tours, he’s been equally as dominant on the Champions Tour, winning 16 times.
You may not agree with everything Johnny Miller says. You may not even agree with much of what he says.
But NBC’s top golf commentator is certainly entertaining, whether in a positive or negative way.
Miller is never shy about criticizing a player or the execution of a shot. His favorite expression concerning a player is that he choked.
He’s definitely on the outlandish end of the broadcaster scale and seems to thrive on that.
Perhaps some of that comes from the fact that Miller shot the record-low round in a major championship, posting a 63 on Sunday in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
He really doesn’t care much about what the players think about his comments, and most likely is fueled by complaints from players.
Brandel Chamblee turned professional in 1985 and played on the PGA Tour until he lost his tour card in 2003.
He played in 370 events and won over $4 million during that time. He won the Greater Vancouver Open in 1998, shared the first-round lead in the Masters in 1999 and for six straight years finished among the top 100 money earners on the PGA Tour.
Chamblee has made many more headlines over the last few years because of one thing: He dared to challenge and criticize Tiger Woods, his lifestyle, his swing and his coaches.
That makes him remarkably unique among his broadcasting brethren who are often far too reverential in their treatment of Woods.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Miguel Angel Jimenez has a reputation for enjoying cigars, wine and fast cars.
And yeah, he likes winning golf tournaments as well, and has gained the nickname of The Most Interesting Man in Golf.
This past weekend Jimenez won the UBS Hong Kong Open for the third time. He became the oldest winner of a European Tour event at age 48 years and 318 days.
Twelve of his 19 career European Tour titles have come after turning 40.
He’s easy to recognize on the course. He’s the guy with the reddish-gray goatee and hair, the latter in a pony tail sticking out the back of his golf hat.
They don’t call Lee Trevino "The Merry Mex" for nothing.
Trevino went through an entire professional career, during which he won 89 times and six majors, talking non-stop.
He was struck by lightning twice on golf courses.
At a fund-raising event hosted by Arnold Palmer back in the late 1980s, Trevino was warming up on the range at Laurel Valley Golf Club, located southeast of Pittsburgh. Every time he hit a shot, a lady sitting behind the range would ooh and aah.
Finally, Trevino turned to her and said, “Hey lady, I’m a U.S. Open champion. What did you expect, ground balls?”
There’s more to Gary McCord than his signature handlebar moustache.
He’s not shy about saying what’s on his mind, like when he said that Augusta National Golf Club’s greens were so slick, it looked as though they had been bikini-waxed. That got him barred from the Masters as a member of the CBS broadcast crew.
McCord did not post a victory on the PGA Tour; his two best finishes were a pair of runners-up at the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1975 and 1977.
He also plays a perfect foil for fellow CBS commentator, the previously mentioned David Feherty.
Jim Nantz is the unchallenged lead broadcaster in the game.
Nantz does most of the CBS golf schedule, but shines every year in April when the Masters is televised.
Nantz’s very soothing voice and extreme knowledge of the game make it a pleasure to listen to him. But he’s not a one-trick pony.
He’s also the lead play-by-play guy for CBS on the network’s NFL telecasts. And what would March Madness be without Nantz's call of the biggest games? He’s a class act, and that comes through regardless of what sport he’s broadcasting.
Tim Rosaforte brings knowledge, insider information and a smooth delivery to whatever medium he happens to be working in at the time.
Whether it’s television, radio, magazines or the Internet, Rosaforte is on top of things and has become one of the great golf journalists of our time.
You can read him in Golf World, see him on Golf Channel or NBC and hear him on golf radio shows across the country.
He’s covered every major championship and every Ryder cup since the early 1980s. He’s won writing awards 30 times during his 20-year career and has written three books.
Paul Azinger is outspoken and sometimes outrageous. In his stints as occasional commentator on golf telecasts on ESPN and ABC, there wasn’t much of a filter when he spoke.
As a player, he won 11 times in seven seasons from 1987 to 1993. He spent almost 300 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Gold Rankings between 1988 and 1994.
He’s not your stereotypical golfer by any means. A good example of that? Azinger’s preferred mode of transportation is a motorcycle.
Gary Player, or the Black Knight as he was nicknamed for his clothing color preference, played professional golf in an era with two of the all-time greats, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
That didn’t intimidate him one bit, however, as he won nine major titles on the regular tour and six more on the Champions Tour.
Player also won three Senior British Open championships. He became only the third player in history to win the career grand slam (winning all four majors, but not in the same year).
Only Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen had done so previously, and only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have done so since.
In all, Player won 165 events on six continents during six decades.