Best 25 Golfers Who Skipped The Fitness Van
For the first century that golf was played competitively by professionals, fitness was something to be disdained by all except Gary Player.
No one wanted to lift weights for fear that they would lose the suppleness necessary for making a turn. Others thought that bulk would change or ruin their swings. It was even believed that Johnny Miller gained too much muscle working outdoors during the off season at his home and that the added muscle led to his lackluster play after many years as a star. Miller would probably say that he wanted to spend more time at home with family because that was a priority for him.
Many who had extra pounds felt that it contributed to their power. Fitness was not coveted.
Exercise and therapy vans did not come to the PGA Tour until the mid-1980s, and at that time, they were not used by the majority of players. It was more often for injury than for exercise. Then, in the mid-1990s, Tiger Woods, a workout phenom, followed by Vijay Singh changed the way people thought about getting stronger and getting victories. Camilo Villegas, well, we’ve literally seen nearly everything in ESPN the Magazine. Camilo once said on The Golf Channel’s fitness program that when he was in college, he had to start a program of lifting weights because he could not hit the ball far enough. He had to get stronger to compete. Camilo is THE poster golfer for fitness.
However, there are many players who are a little wider in girth, yet successful. There are some who were flat-bellies early only to fall prey to the curse of time and success: getting a little wider in the trailer thanks to all those expensive meals they could afford. There are some who have injuries that will not allow them to do much in the way of exercise.
It’s unwise, however, to mistake physique or lack of exercise for lack of total fitness. To compete on the regular tours, no matter what continent, a golfer walks more than four miles a day. Champions Tour? You can take a cart and have that doughnut, if your doctor allows. It’s a post-50 hall pass, but many still walk and are in great shape.
Here are the top 25 golfers who have been successful with a little “junk in the trunk”--those who regularly skipped the fitness van or who were successful before the idea of fitness became important in golf. After looking at this list you’ll probably want to have an extra Twinkie or another bag of M&Ms.
1. Jack Nicklaus
Early in his career, when he beat Arnold Palmer for the US Open in 1962 at Oakmont, Nicklaus was made fun of because of his weight. It was a distasteful way to talk about the man who set the Golden Bear standard in golf. With 18 professional majors and two US Amateurs, his major record stands alone. Nicklaus slimmed down significantly in the late 1970s and in the 1980s, but who is to say he didn’t play his best when heavy? With 73 PGA Tour victories, 115 in total around the world, six Masters, five PGAs, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens, three Players victories and two US Amateurs, Nicklaus is still the high water mark in golf..
2. Bobby Jones
No disrespect, but Jones was a little rotund. Successful. Winner of all of the majors in his era. Stayed an amateur. Hero to many. Founder of what has become a modern major tournament, The Masters. Only winner of the US and British Open and US and British Amateur in a calendar year. Jones won 12 majors in all. He didn’t minor.
3. JoAnne Carner
Her nickname is Big Mamma and before that the Great Gundy. Though not petite, Carner won five LPGA majors--all the ones that were played in her era--and 43 LPGA tournaments in total. She’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
4. Billy Casper
With 51 PGA Tour titles, three professional majors, seven international victories and 10 Champions Tour titles, Casper is on everyone’s list of top golfers in history list. Casper had to win against guys named Palmer, Player and Nicklaus. He was a five time winner of the Vardon Trophy.
5. Laura Davies
With 81 professional victories--just seven less than Kathy Whitworth who leads the LGPA all time total--Davies also claims four major championships. Her distance is legendary.
6. Lee Trevino
Lee Trevino is a golfer/entertainer who suffered from back problems after being hit by lightning at the 1975 Western Open. Trevino has 29 PGA Tour titles, six majors and is second only to Hale Irwin in Champions Tour victories with 29. He counts 89 professional victories including special events like the Skins Game.
7. Raymond Floyd
Carrying perhaps a pound or two more than his competitors never stopped Floyd. He was as fierce as a junkyard dog on the golf course, and was known for The Stare. With 22 regular victories, 11 worldwide titles, four majors, 14 Champions Tour trophies and 19 “others” that include Silly Season team events, Floyd compiled a record that will not be matched by many.
8. Julius Boros
With three majors, 18 PGA Tour victories and three Champions Tour titles, Boros cannot be overlooked. He also became famous for the what became the start of the Champions Tour in the original Legends of Golf in 1979. The tournament went into an extended playoff. He was paired with Roberto De Vicenzo against Tommy Bolt and Art Wall, Jr. Boros is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
9. Nancy Lopez
With three major championships, 48 LPGA victories and four team titles, Lopez was more than a great player. She was the face of the LPGA from the late 1970s to the early 1980s and had a tremendously positive impact on the women’s game. She began the game as a slender young women, but three children later, well, it happens to the best of us.
10 Angel Cabrera
Winner of two majors, Cabrera seems to be the kind of guy who enjoys life. He has 49 professional victories, mainly in South America. The two majors came in the U.S., and he has five European Tour victories. No one can argue with his power and deft touch.
11. Cristie Kerr
Kerr lost 60 pounds between 1999 and 2001; her highest weight was 185 pounds and her lowest was 122 pounds. That did not stop her from winning at all weights. She’s the No. 1 player on the LPGA right now. She has14 victories and two of those are majors.
12. Fred Couples
Winner of the 1992 Masters, and the 1984 and 1996 Players, Couples has been hampered by back problems since the early 1990s. He won 15 times on the PGA Tour and has now moved on to the Champions Tour where he just became Rookie of the Year with four victories his first year. Couples' favorite workout is hitting buttons on the remote. His favorite time of year: NCAA Basketball and the Final Four followed by The Masters. Couples doesn’t carry extra weight–in fact he’s slimmed down--but he can’t lift a teacup for fear of pulling something in his back. Don’t look for him in the gym any time soon.
13. Mark Calcavecchia
Winner of the 1989 British Open and possessing 13 PGA Tour titles as well as 13 others including the Australian Open and the Argentine Open, Calcavecchia was in the top ten in world rankings for 100 weeks. He holds the PGA Tour scoring record with 28 under for par 71 courses which he set at the Phoenix Open in 2003. He was the first to go lower than Mike Souchak’s 27 under which was shot in 1957.
14. Craig Stadler
Winner of the 1982 Masters, Stadler has won 13 times on the PGA Tour, two times in Europe and eight times on the Champions Tour. Nicknamed the Walrus for his mustache, he exhibits a temper on the golf course, but is so pleasant to talk to that it's a shock at first. You keep waiting for him to throw something, and he doesn't. Stadler was the leading money winner in 1982.
15. Orville Moody
Moody won the 1969 US Open. It was his first and only regular Tour victory in the US. He also won the Korean Open, the Hassan II Golf Trophy and Hong Kong Open, all in the 1970s. Moody invented the long putter. Love it or hate it, Orville gets the credit or the blame. He has eleven Champions Tour victories, one of which was the Senior Open.
16. Pat Hurst
With one professional major, Kraft Nabisco, five additional LPGA victories and six other professional wins, Hurst has shown that success is not a function of the scale. This mother of two also won the 1989 U.S. Women’s Amateur and won the individual NCAA Title.
17. Colin Montgomerie
This year’s Ryder Cup captain for Europe won seven consecutive Order of Merit (money list) titles in Europe and has never lost a singles match in Ryder Cup play in eight sessions. He is only 1.5 points behind the all time leading European Ryder Cup point getter, Nick Faldo. Monty has 40 professional victories, 31 of them in Europe and the rest around the world including the Anderson Consulting Match Play, which became Accenture. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2004.
18. Eduardo Romero
With 74 worldwide victories, most in South America and Latin America, as well as eight on the European Tour, five on the Champions Tour–two of them majors and two European Seniors victories--Romero is a force to be reckoned with on the golf course. He was a mentor to Angel Cabrera.
19. Miguel Angel Jimenez
With 18 European Tour victories, including three in 2010, Jimenez is a lover of merlot, cigars and fast cars. He also plays a little golf from time to time. In 2006, he won five times which is a career for many players. He has been on four Ryder Cup teams and represented Spain in the World Cup an amazing eleven times.
20. Darren Clarke
Clarke is one of the few players to have defeated Tiger Woods, and he did it in head-to-head match play at the Accenture in 2000. He has 19 professional victories--two in the U.S., nine on the European Tour and five in other international locations. He has been a part of Ryder Cup five times and was non-playing vice-captain in 2010.
21. Miller Barber
Barber won eleven times on the PGA Tour, 24 times on the Champions Tour and has 40 professional titles in all. He joined the senior circuit one year after it was created. Barber holds the record for combined PGA Tour and Champions Tour starts at 1292. He won five Champions tour majors when, honestly, he was at his roundest.
22. Porky Oliver
Ed "Porky" Oliver was 5'9'' and reportedly weighed 240 pounds. He won eight times on the PGA Tour and played in the 1940s and 1950s. He also won six other events in the U.S. and around the world. There’s a story that he once helped Valerie Hogan down a fire escape when a motel that a group of players was staying in caught on fire.
23. Joey Sindelar
A former Ohio State standout, Sindelar has won nine times professionally, seven of them PGA Tour titles. He is a past winner of the New York State Junior and New York State Amateur. He was a member of the 1979 NCAA Championship team and was named Ohio State's Athlete of the Year in 1981.
24. Bob Murphy
Murphy won the 1965 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 1966 NCAA Championship, one of few professional golfers who possess both titles. He won 21 times professionally, five times on the PGA Tour, eleven on the Champions Tour and five others. He was a Florida Gator long before Camilo Villegas, Chris DiMarco, Mark Calcavecchia, Andy North and Andy Bean, and after Doug Sanders.
25. Tim Herron
This list is not complete without Herron. His nickname is “Lumpy”, and he is said to prefer ice fishing to other activities. He was a first-team All-American at New Mexico two years running and went undefeated in three matches at the 1993 U.S. Walker Cup. Herron defeated 15-year-old Tiger Woods in the second round of 1992 U.S. Amateur, one of only two defeats Woods suffered in 23 U.S. Amateur matches. He has four PGA Tour victories and a lot of frozen fish. Herron has been quoted as saying he avoids exercise. Finally, a golfer like every man.