Golf has always been considered a sport for rich kids, which gives professional golfers an unfair reputation for being humorless, straight-laced, privileged snobs. However most of the guys you see on TV are nothing like the wasp-y county club jerks you think of — in fact they’re pretty darn likable. Here’s why:
1. Some of the game’s most famous faces literally came from nothing.
Lee Trevino, one of the most gregarious players in PGA Tour history, picked cotton in Texas fields at 5 years old and grew up in a house with no electricity or running water. He joined the Marines at 17 years old and made a living as a hustler on golf courses before qualifying for the U.S. Open at the age of 27. Vijay Singh grew up a poor kid in the tropical paradise of Fiji. His father was a refueler at the airport and Singh grew up hitting golf balls at the course adjacent to the airport. Juan “Chi Chi” Rodriguez grew up in Puerto Rico and learned the game by hitting tin cans with a guava tree stick. All three are in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
2. Even Rory McIlroy, one of today’s most popular players, came from humble beginnings.
Rory McIlroy is probably the best young talent to enter the golf world since Tiger Woods, but even though he’s now one of the highest paid athletes in the world, he didn’t come from money. McIlroy’s father worked over 100 hours a week cleaning locker rooms and worked as a bartender, while his mother worked a night shift at a local factory to help support Rory’s development.
3. They’re goofy…
I think this picture is better with no explanation.
7. Sometimes too much fun…
No one has more fun than John Daly. He’s the real life embodiment of Happy Gilmore. Speaking of…
Just ask golf legend Lee Trevino.
10. And they’re quietly kinda badass.
2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner is known for his laid-back demeanor, his lip full of Copenhagen Long Cut Wintergreen tobacco, and slapping his wife’s ass on national television. He’s awesome.
11. They understand the importance of Throwback Thursday.
And they respect the tradition.
13. And the funniest poop story in sports history.
14. They’re never above laughing at farts.
At the 2009 Buick Invitational, someone ripped a fart into a microphone boom while following Tiger Woods, causing Eldrick and his caddy Steve Williams to burst out laughing. Fartgate set the internet aflame, but most believe the culprit was golf announcer and noted crazy person David Feherty.
16. OK, some of them know how to dress.
These Jordan XI’s are the shoes that Keegan Bradley is wearing this week at the Masters.
17. They’re incredibly charitable.
Bubba Watson teamed up with his sponsor PING to donate $250,000 to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, as well as establishing a scholarship fund in his wife’s name at his alma mater, the University of Georgia, and raised money to establish the Bubba & Angie Watson Medical Clinic in Kenya. Ernie Els established Els For Autism in 2009 after his son was affected by the disorder. The non-profit has a goal of building a $30 million facility learning facility for children with autism.
18. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a golfer who isn’t involved in a charitable foundation.
19. They’re family men.
Last year, during the week of the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson’s daughter was speaking at her eighth grade graduation in San Diego the day before the competition started in Philadelphia. So Lefty forfeited his practice rounds and flew home to be there for his family and flew back hours before his tee time at 7:11 a.m.
20. And have their priorities in order.
Hunter Mahan was winning the 2013 RBC Canadian Open after two rounds when his wife went into labor with their first child. He was at the practice range getting ready for his third round when he received the news and immediately withdrew from the tournament and flew home from Toronto to Dallas. Brant Snedeker went on to win the tournament and a million dollar check. But Mahan got back to Dallas in time for the birth of his daughter, Zoe.
21. So maybe it’s time to be a little more open-minded.
Back in 1991, John Daly was 25 years old and the final player in the field at the PGA Championship when he became the most unlikely champion and inevitably took the golf world by storm. Now, John Daly is more better known for his partying, gambling, smoking, drinking, clothes, and weight issues than his golf game. But back when he was a nobody in ‘91, Daly gave $30,000 of his $230,000 winners check to a family who lost their father due to a fatal lightning strike on the course grounds during the tournament. He put it in a trust toward the family’s two daughters’ college tuitions.
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