Hearing the news yesterday that Doug Sanders passed away reminded me of a story that I recently told. Doug was a talented golfer who won 20 times on the PGA TOUR. But he was also well known for his flamboyant sense of style on the golf course. He was known as the ‘Peacock of the Fairways’. It’s the mid 90’s on the PGA TOUR. Peter Jordan, Skip Kendall and I were playing the last round at the Honda Classic at Herron Bay Country Club in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I was 3 under for the day playing the 408 yard par four 10th hole. If my memory serves me correct we were in the middle of the pack and I was making a decent move through the field. That’s when all hell broke loose.
The pin was on the left side of the green and my approach shot landed about 40 feet to the right. Because of the design of the hole, the gallery was all gathered on the left side of the fairway and green because there was water all the way down the right side of the hole. There was some mounding and trees also left of the green where some people were sitting and enjoying the sun. The cart path ran down the entire left side of the hole. The gallery was light, maybe about 10-15 people near the green. Pete and Skip had hit it in close so I was the first to putt. I generally look at my putt from two angles unless something about the green catches my eye. Well, something caught my eye alright. As I walked back toward my ball, I notice a man walking down the cart path toward the green. Normally this is no big deal and you go about your routine. However, this particular gentleman was decked out in head to toe lime green. Pants, shoes, shirt, belt, all obnoxiously green. And he was also sporting a big melon full of gray hair. It looked like it could have been Doug Sanders' long lost brother. The guy is giving me the slow walk so I’m stalling so he can come to a stop. I didn’t want him to walk up and stand directly behind the pin and help me read my putt. I could just feel it; he was what we call a creeper. A guy who stands there and tries to read the putt for you. He had all the markings to be the perfect distraction. He wanted attention and he was about to get it. As I approached my ball I asked my caddie Brendan Woolley to stop Mr. Greenjeans from walking down the path. He actually wasn’t wearing jeans; it was polyester on polyester. He did not hear Brendan so I backed off the putt. I again asked Brendan to please have Greenie standstill. The caddies and pros on the green are now looking at this guy and he is still inch worming his way down the cart path. All the caddies have their hands up in the air as if to say stop. Just like a traffic cop. Brendan yells "stand please!" And you guessed it, Mr. Greenjeans walks up the path and he finally stops directly behind the hole and right in my eye line. Just before he stopped, Brendan now pretty frustrated, yelled “stand please!” one last time. That’s when the second party started about 10 yards behind the Jolly Green Giant.
When Brendan yelled that last time to “stand please!” a heavyset couple laying on the hill enjoying a few beers, soaking in the sun, raised their hands up in the air as if to say “what the hell?” Then the guy says to his wife, we have to stand. She says, loud enough for everyone on the green to hear, “who is this guy and why do I have to stand to watch him putt?” The husband is now aggravated and he’s trying to pull her up off the ground. And he’s struggling to lift her up. The caddies and pros began to laugh out loud which made matters much worse. It was now a full blown shit show. He finally gets her up but I had tears in my eyes and had lost all concentration. The pros could not stop laughing, they all turned away from the crowd trying to compose themselves. It didn’t work. My composure was toast. I ran my first putt about 5 feet past the hole and missed it coming back. Story of my career on the PGA TOUR. Peter Jordan is still laughing 20 something years later and so am I.