DAVE HILL, A 13-TIME PGA Tour winner who died this week at the age of 74, was called the Don Rickles of the golf tour by Sports Illustrated because of his outspokenness and derogatory comments. A solid performer who won the Vardon Trophy in 1969 and played on three U.S. Ryder Cup teams, Hill was a frequent tour leader in two categories: fines and suspensions.
The most famous instance was in 1970 when the U.S. Open was played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Hill finished second to England’s Tony Jacklin, who cruised to a seven-shot victory.
Did Hill like the course? Maybe they shouldn’t have asked. All those pros who recently criticized Cog Hill during the BMW Championship have nothing on golf’s Don Rickles.
When asked what he thought of the course, Hill said, “I’m still looking for it.” When asked what Hazeltine needed, he said it only lacked “80 acres of corn and a few cows. They ruined a good farm when they built this course.”
Hill also said that famed course architect Robert Trent Jones had the blueprints upside down when he built Hazeltine. If Hill had won the U.S. Open, he reportedly planned to ride a tractor on the golf course, trophy in hand. He was fined $150 by commissioner Joe Dey for “criticism that tends to ridicule and demean the club.”
With Nick Seitz, Hill wrote his book Teed Off in the late 1970s. He won six times on the Champions Tour and later praised Hazeltine after its 1990 redesign in advance of the 1991 U.S. Open won by Payne Stewart.
−The Armchair Golfer