Tuesday, September 15

An Unplanned Visit with Hall of Famer Billy Casper

IF BILLY CASPER HAD LOCATED his room sooner at the Crowne Plaza, I would not have had my chance and enjoyable encounter with him.

I’m at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, this week’s Champions Tour event. It’s pretty close to home, so I’m here hanging out with the legends—and meeting some of the Champions Tour players as well, most notably Fred Funk.

I had just left Jack Fleck when I ran into Mr. Casper, arguably the most underrated pro golfer of all time. Billy won 51 times on the PGA Tour, including three majors—two U.S. Opens and a Masters.

Billy and I had crossed paths at the front desk and engaged in small talk. Now he was looking for his room, and when he found it I offered to lug his heavy golf travel bag through the glass door and down the walkway to his room.

“Come on in,” Billy said, so I stepped inside and we talked for a little while. “Don’t go yet,” he added as I moved toward the door. He was reaching into his golf bag.

Meanwhile, I did something I’ve never done before. I started dialing my cell phone, explaining to Billy what I was doing. I was calling my 82-year-old dad in California, the person who got me started in golf and a knowledgeable fan about the era of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player. (And also the very deserving but less popular Casper.) I wanted to put the two of them on the phone.

Billy was totally cool about it. They talked for several minutes. My dad was thrilled, more excited than I would have guessed, which made me feel great. Then Billy signed two golf balls (that’s what he was reaching for in his bag), one for my dad and one for me. Both balls had the number “51,” signifying his total wins.

It’s pretty cool to hang out with a Hall of Famer. It’s even cooler to share the experience with your dad.

−The Armchair Golfer


kokogirl said...

That is a great story! It is awesome when a chance encounter turns into something so special.

Anonymous said...

My dad grew up watching golf in the late 1950's and 1960's. He told me he went to college with Henry Picards son, and they went to the Masters Tournament in the early 60's together (Henry Picard won the Masters in 1938). He also said the players in the 60's, especially Palmer, and Casper, were better than the kids today.

Jeff said...

Great story! Casper deserves more print and credit than he ever got. How special it must have been for you and your Dad!!

Anonymous said...

WOW! I did not even know that Mr. Casper was still around. My father and I would watch the World of Golf and my Dad would say, "Now there is a gentleman of the game!" And he is a damn good golfer to boot. Thank you for sharing this with me and thanks to Mr. Casper for some really good memories.

Kent from Texas

Unknown said...

I grew up playing golf in San Diego, Capser's hometown, so I was always reading stories about him in the local papers in the 1960s. He earned some points for how he treated you!

mostafa ahmed said...

the genuine sport icons who played with honore and intigrity they always be our heros no matter where or how we meet them..as father and son did.

Hooked On Golf Blog said...

I had a fun Billy Casper moment too. He's a super nice guy.