BUCK Moore. You might ask why, because it will save you a lot of money on the PGA TOUR.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the BC Open in Endicott, New York on the PGA TOUR. In the 90s and early 2000s, this tournament always played opposite of the British Open. I forget what year it was, and tried to a little research today, but I could not recall the year. However, I do remember the details. The year might have been 1998. Here is the backdrop. It was a Friday round, sort of mid-morning and we were playing the 14th hole, it’s a 185-yard par 3. The Golf Channel was taping early round coverage in the event that someone had a highlight shot or a player was posting a low score for the day. If my memory serves me, I think I was playing with Brain Claar, who went on to become a PGA Rules Official after his playing days, and Doug Barron who just last year won a Champions Tour event at the same course. So, here we are standing on this par 3 around 10am. There is hardly anyone in the bleachers behind the greens and not anyone really following us as far as spectators go. It was quiet, you could all the birds tweeting. Our group was playing well and we were all trying to position ourselves for a run on the weekend. I was first to hit. The hole was playing longer than its stated yardage of 185, pin was located middle-left about 15 yards onto the green. Back then I hit a 4-iron between 205-215 depending on conditions. I hit a high 4-iron that had maybe a 1 yard cut on it. It was heading straight down the flag stick toward the hole on its descending trajectory. Thought I might have a tap in or possibly a hole-in-one. There was a high-faced bunker on the left side of the green that was blocking my view. I waited for the crowd to acknowledge my excellence. But that did not happen. The two people in the bleachers continued to enjoy their sunbathing and cocktails. I immediately look at Buck and everyone else in our group, and with an air of excitement in my voice I ask, “Where did that land?” Buck was 6’4” and I was hoping he had a better angle at seeing the green. His response, “It’s got to be good.” The other two pros hit. One lands in the front bunker, and the other lands pin high right and we can see his ball on the green. We are about 5 yards from the approach of the green, and I still cannot see my ball. My heart starts to beat, and I’m looking around saying to myself could it be? I see one ball in the bunker, one on the green, and mine nowhere to be seen. Buck starts mumbling “Oh yeah. Oh yeah.” I speed up my pace straight to the hole, and like that, BANG, there is NO BALL in the hole. I’m like damn I hit that good but it went over the green. We walk to the back of the green to begin our search, I’m now on the clock. We have 5 minutes to find my ball before it’s a penalty. Our group, which now includes a small TV crew from the Golf Channel, look high and low. No ball behind the green. I run to the front bunker in a state of panic to see if it plugged in the face of the bunker. Then out of nowhere, one of the two sunbathers yells out, “Check out the down slope of the bunker face.” I am like what are you talking about? Buck and I walk around to the downslope of the bunker. I’ll be damn there it was. Buried in deep grass on a downslope was my ball. Without looking up I yell, “F*** can you believe this?” Luckily, I scrape it out of the rough and make par on the hole, but I am discombobulated and soon to be in trouble. We finish the round and are signing our score cards in the official scoring tent when I was approached by a PGA TOUR rules official. He says, “I need to talk to you.” That is something you NEVER want to hear.
The rules official asks me what had happened on 14. I say, “What are you talking about?” He says, “Did anything weird happen?” I said, “No, I made 3. No big deal.” He says, “Okay. Someone in the area heard something and I was just checking to see if anything happened.” Well, something did happen. Two weeks later, I get a call from my father, who received all my mail while I was out on tour. He informed me that one of the envelopes had important stamped on it from the PGA TOUR. I told him to open it and read it to me. Turns out, it was a letter of disciplinary action and that I was officially fined for conduct unbecoming of a professional golfer. And like that, I now owe the PGA TOUR $1,000. My dad asks, “What happened?” I said, “I have NO clue.” Dad informs me that the letter says if I would like to appeal, I would have to contact Henry Hughes at Tour Headquarters. I immediately lob a call to Hughes, who at the time was COO of PGA TOUR and handled any fines. We go through pleasantries and I feel like I’m in a confessional at church. Henry informs me that a volunteer lady working as a spotter for the Golf Channel went through the process of writing a formal complaint to the rules staff on site at the B.C. Open stating that you yelled out F*** very loudly on the 14th hole during Friday’s televised coverage. There is silence on my end. I ask him to repeat that again. I was buying time for my response. As he finishes the lady’s report, I say, “No way.” He says, “Kelly the way it works is if they write you up, you are guilty.” So, here’s my reply. “Henry, you and I have never played golf before. In fact, I don’t think you have ever seen me play golf before. I don’t curse when I play. Do you know who my caddy is?” He says, “No.” I say, “Well, my caddy’s name is BUCK MOORE. Now Henry if you were standing 15-yards away from me and I yelled out ‘BUCK can you believe this’. What might that sound like to you.” Now there was silence on his end. He asked for me to repeat that again. I yell into the phone, “BUCK can you believe this!” There is a pause. And he asks one more time. I yell out again very loudly “BUCK can you believe this!” He starts to laugh so hard he cannot speak. When he finally catches his breath, he says “You’ll be the first guy I have ever let off the hook and I have been doing this awhile.”
So, for the rest of my career, no matter what my caddy’s name was, his nickname for the week was BUCK.