Blair's building blocks
The 26-year-old's fondness for LEGOs stems from a lifelong passion for golf course design
March 08, 2017
By Helen Ross , PGATOUR.COM
- Zac Blair ranks 11th on TOUR in Driving Accuracy Percentage, hitting 410 of 587 fairways this season. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Zac Blair doesn’t know how many LEGO sets he has stored in the closets of his St. George, Utah home.
“In the hundreds, for sure,” he said. “Too many for someone my age to really want to know exactly how many.”
The 26-year-old is a dedicated collector, though, and the LEGOs that Blair has are hardly child’s play. The modular building sets stand several feet high and take more than 2,000 pieces to assemble.
The Brigham Young grad even has a LEGO train that actually runs -- well, two locomotives, really, but “I think the dogs ate one of them,” he said with a big grin.
Blair first reconnected with his childhood during the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. His host family had a huge room in the house devoted to LEGOs – right down to work tables made from the colorful plastic blocks.
“I thought. man, this is awesome,” Blair recalled. “We had a couple of (weather) delays that week and I came home and did it to kind of pass the time. I was like, wow, you can find some really cool sets.”
Blair’s interest in LEGOs was fueled by his lifelong passion for architecture – particularly golf course design. He reads books about the greats like Alister MacKenzie and Seth Raynor and sketches golf holes for the course called The Buck Club in Utah he’s planning.
“I've always been an architecture fan, building stuff, and I've done it since I was a little kid, so it was something easy to pick up,” said Blair, who is already marketing merchandise for the club.
“It's not too hard. But at the same time, it makes you think a little bit. You have to find the pieces. You've got to put them together. Then you have something that you can say you built.”
The first LEGOs were created in 1932 by a Danish woodworker named Ole Kirk Christiansen. The name came from the first two letters of these two Danish words: leg godt, which mean “play well.”
The scope of the business today is mind-boggling.
LEGOs were among the first class of inductees to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998 and have twice been named “Toy of the Century.” The “LEGO Batman Movie” was just released last month and there are two more in the works.
Serious artists create LEGO statues on consignment. One man in Great Britian even built a home – complete with toilet and shower -- out of the plastic building blocks. And a high school class in Delaware constructed a LEGO tower that used more than 500,000 bricks and was 11 stories tall.
The biggest LEGO set is the Taj Mahal, a 5,922-piece challenge that was released in 2008. It’s been “retired” by the manufacturer but can be found on Amazon.com for $3,299.19 – but the shipping is free.
Blair hasn’t forked over that much cash for a single set, although he does put his overall investment in the thousands – “It’s a bad habit,” he said, grinning, “But there are worse habits.”
Among Blair’s prize possessions is a Batmobile from the Dark Knight era and a Simpsons set. But he particularly likes building the modular buildings that attach to each other and create LEGO villages.
“I remember my dad got me one of those sets for Christmas, maybe like three years ago,” Blair said. “Not the really expensive ones, but it was a lot more than you'd probably want to spend on a set of LEGOs.
“Every year, I'm like, man, if I have a good week, I would love to buy one of those sets, but they're kind of hard to find, and you don't really know what you're getting. … They're really cool, though.”
The 12 modular sets available include everything from a pet shop to a green grocer to a department store and French bistro, along with a fire department and detective’s office. When he’s finished with one, he adds it to a display on the shelf in one of his closets.
“We got to a point where (my wife, Alicia) was like, ‘we cannot have Legos in the house,’” Blair said sheepishly. “‘We've got to put them in boxes.’”
Of course, now that he’s collecting, Blair wonders what happened to the ones he used to play with as a kid. His mother told him the LEGOs disappeared during one of the family’s moves.
“I remember I had this really cool like space set that had a train and a rocket ship or something like that, and it's kind of a famous one now,” Blair said. “It's too bad that one is gone.”
Of course, Blair has learned to be careful with his LEGOs. Several years ago when he was playing in the Farmers Insurance Open, Blair visited LEGOLAND and bought the French cafe set.
“I actually built it while I was playing in the tournament, and then I sent it home,” Blair said. Only, the bistro didn’t make it home in one piece.
“I was so sad because I had to fix it when I got back home,” Blair said.
The affable Blair says his LEGOs hobby isn’t necessarily well-known among his PGA TOUR brethren. A glance at the LED scoreboards when his group approaches the tee might change things, though.
“I saw it the other day,” Blair said. “It was like: Zac Blair quietly collects LEGOs. It was pretty funny.”