What they said: Lee Trevino

March 09, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Toshiba Classic transcript archive

DAVE SENKO: Lee, welcome, you have visited several times, but you had a chance to play the course this morning

LEE TREVINO: I never seen it better. I have never seen it better. You had a lot of rain, maybe?

It is in the best condition I have ever seen it. The scores are going to be extremely low, I think, which will be good. That's what people like. It is immaculate.

The fairways are the best I've ever seen, the greens. Just everything about it. And I don't have to tell you about the layout. This is one of the finest golf courses I've ever played. For a member, a guy, I guarantee you, there will never be anybody drop out of this club. It will be nuts. They have to die.

If the flag is half mast, that's the only way he dropped out.

The family is sad, but the guy on the waiting list is happy as hell. Every time I travel, the flag is half mast. Who died? Who is coming in? That guy is jumping up and down.

It's beautiful. I love it. It's the only one I play in. I play in the Legends, but I like playing here.

Q. That's why you are here??

LEE TREVINO: I just like this course. I don't have to play. I don't play anyplace else. This place is special. Plus I like to come out every once in a while to see the guys, you know what I'm saying. It's like family. So I came out to see them. A lot of new guys out. Ian Baker Finch is starting this week for the first time. I love seeing them. I love seeing the guys.

Q. Lee, your 71, par is 71, is that a good goal??

LEE TREVINO: I hope I'm close when I play. I don't know if I can break it or not. I have a chance to because this course is not the longest course in the world. You know what I'm saying? You still got to make pars and birdies. I shout about that today. How many birdies did I have? I had four birdies. That's good. If I can get four birdies a day I got a shot to break my age, yes.

Q. You're a quick golfer, do you miss playing the PGA TOUR, especially seeing now they are taking like five hours and 20 minutes on the weekend? Do you miss that?

LEE TREVINO: They just won't do anything about that, you know. If you gave a 2 shot penalty instead of $100 fine, they would speed up. You got to put the two shots on them. And they wouldn't do them. That two shots could cost four or $500 thousand.

If you are in second place, and you get a 2 shot penalty for slow play and you end up 5th that kid, I was watching the AT&T at Pebble Beach. I don't remember who it was, did he double bogey? He double bogeyed 18. Marino. He was in second place. He ended up 5th.

And I looked it up. I showed it to my son. I said, this is what you got to do. He went crazy. He says, he hit a hell of a shot. He pulled the 5 iron a little bit and it went in the water. It cost him 432,000 that double bogey.

If he pars the hole he can't win, understand? But he could finish second by himself. It cost him 432,000, you see?

Slow play, the only way that you can fix slow play is you got to be consistent.

When I went out on TOUR, when I went years ago, they gave you two shots automatic. Nicklaus got two shots right away, 1960 up at Portland. Joe Black gave it to him. I never forget it. He was slow playing. He said you got 2. He won it anyway. He still won. But he got 2. You got to do the two shots. They give you a fine. These guys are making $10 million a year. What the hell is a fine? You understand? I don't care if it's a $10,000 fine, that's not anything.

Q. But they put the group on the clock and it usually is one guy??

LEE TREVINO: They know who it is. Listen to me. These guys are professionals. Our officials are professionals. They know exactly who is playing slow. They know who it is. You don't have to put the 3 some on the clock, you can go to the individual.

Every time I got you know how fast I am? And I get in a fast group, they would come to me and say listen, you are out of position. Come to me. I said go tell that SOB that slow plays in the group. But they would tell me. I'm a fast player. You got to go to two shots.

Our officials are professionals. Understand? Now whether they can do this or not, you have to understand that this TOUR is run by the board, the board of professional golfers. They are the ones that have to vote on this, to my knowledge. To my knowledge they would have to vote on that. And they are not going to.

And this is when the Commissioner should take over, if you want to go faster. You understand?

if you want to go faster, the commissioner says, call the officials up, we are going to start the two stroke penalty stuff and just do it.

I guarantee you, after you give a couple of them, these guys will be running up No. 1. They will hit their driver. They will be jogging out there. They will be wearing Fred Couples shoes, those Echos, where you could run and everything.

You got to go to the 2 shot. But our officials are professionals, all you have to do is tell them. They can't do it. They tried. They are out there. They are clocking everybody. They are working their buns off. You see them out there all the time. Their hands are tied to give the guy a 2 shot, you know. They give them $100 fine, $200 fine. It's crazy.

That was like who was the crazy one that just died? Tommy Bolt. When you practice, you could only hit one ball on the green. Tommy would hit two or three, and one of the officials came up to him and said, Tommy, you can't do that. Why not? It's a $25.00 fine if you hit more than one ball on the green. He handed him $200, and he said, keep the change, I'm going to hit three more. That's the way it is. That's how crazy it is with an itty bitty fine like that.

Q. Fred Couples has been bothered by back problems a lot of years??


Q. Your problems started when you got hit by lightning??

LEE TREVINO: It ripped my back out. I had a disk removed. Then I had another problem with a nerve hitting a bone. I had a rhizotomy, which burns the nerves and I was okay.

Then I reinjured it in '03, and I couldn't do anything. I lost all of the compression of the disk in 3, 4. The nerve was actually trapped. And they found this apparatus called X Stop, it wasn't legal in this country. I went to Germany, to Cologne to have it done.

It's a little roller with wings, and it goes into your back. It's not attached to anything. It goings in between the little bones and it lifts up the vertebrae to where you get your space back.

I have 2 of them in. I've never had a spasm or my back hurt since '04. I had them put in in May of '04. I lift weights. I do everything. I can't run. They don't want me pounding.

But it was a miracle. This thing. It's called an X Stop. People that are interested in this, it's for spinal stenosis is what it is. When people start going down and they start losing compression in the back. The reason you see people leaning over all the time, they have no room, no space. When you they lean forward it opens it which relieves the pressure. As they try to straighten up, it closes and this is what pinches the nerve.

But they can google this by going X Stop spacer.com. Very simple. They will tell you. Not everybody is a candidate for it. Bone density has a lot to do with it.

Q. Do you think all of your back problems were from lightening that day or hitting balls??

LEE TREVINO: Probably hitting balls and the lightening and stuff. It probably was. I ruptured the disk right after I got hit by lightning. I ruptured it picking up a pot. It wasn't that it just ruptured. I remember picking up a flower pot over in the corner and my wife wanted me to move it. So I go over and pick the damn thing up and I remember when I popped it. I remember when I did it.

I did the one in the neck, too. The 7 in the neck, I have a plate behind my throat, I have a small plate in there with 6 screws in it in my neck. I still have pretty good motion.

But I ruptured that one hitting balls. It popped also. I heard it, boom. And they went in through here and put a plate in behind my throat.

I'm a bionic man. I told my wife I was going to be cremated. I said, when I die and they bring you the ashes you put your hand in the urn, if you don't get 2 rollers and a plate, god damn, they are not mine. That's what I told her. You reach in those ashes, and if there is not 2 X Stop rollers in there and a plate with 6 screws, those are not my ashes. That's what I told her.

Q. Lee, is the game still fun for you??

LEE TREVINO: I play every day. I don't miss a day. If it's raining, I don't play, I go in the shop and beat up on the clubs. I'm always doing something with them.

I got a driver right now I'm knocking the hell out of. I need to fix it, but I'm hitting it so good if I fix it it might mess it up. First of all, I had a rattle in the shed. So I took my knife out of the bag, a Mexican always had a knife in his bag, I took this knife out and I cut the top off the grip, so I can get the hole in there. But I cut too much. The shaft is sticking up. The sharp is hitting me.

And then the shaft, I put a brass weight in the shaft, but I don't guess I glued it good enough. It came out in the driver and it's rattling in the driver.

If I hit it a certain way it will lock up in there. I was going to go over here to the trailer and take the shaft out and put another grip on, but it might mess it up.

These drivers are very particular. You change a little weight here, and a little weight there, it changes the kick in the shaft.

That's the hardest thing in the world to find is a driver that will react the way you want it to.

You can have 12 shafts in that driver, and they all go different. And you got to find the right one, the right combination.

I've got that in this one. I'm not messing with it. It's ugly.

The great thing about it, if I lose it, or drop it in the driveway, nobody will pick it up, they will throw it on the side.

It happened to me with a wedge one time. I had a rusty Helen Hicks in Akron, Ohio, and I put it at the edge of the car and I forgot about it, and I drove away and it fell on the park, the driveway there.

Somebody picked it up and threw it up against the building. Nicklaus walked out to go to the golf course, and he saw that wedge there, I swear to God, and he looks at it, and he says, I think this is Lee's wedge. He came out. I'm on the practice tee, and he's got it in his hand, the old Helen Hicks.

He said, is this your wedge? I said, where did you find that wedge? It was up against the building at the hotel. Somebody picked it up and threw it over there, this old rusty thing. It had the brown shaft in it. It was made in 1938. It had dimples in the face, no lines. That's before they started making lines in the clubs.

Q. Speaking of Jack, I know you don't watch every Masters.

LEE TREVINO: I watch them all.

Q. This is the anniversary of '86. Where were you watching that ? Do you remember where you were?

LEE TREVINO: Yes, and I am still pissed off about it. Let me tell you why. I bet you never even thought about it. How did the people at Augusta, Georgia, know that it was Jack Nicklaus's last tournament and he finished on 9.

Q. No, '86.

LEE TREVINO: Oh, when he won. We got completely inebriated at the Atlanta airport. We left Augusta to the airport. No, I drove. What the hell? I'm first off.

So when I finished, Jack hadn't teed off. My wife and I are driving to the airport. Jack is on 14. And then he eagles 15. And the airline, there was a bar across from the gate in Atlanta, and I am drinking double scotches. I mean I hit a wall when I went in that airport. And he won that tournament. Hold the plane, hold the plane. We are screaming at this guy to hold the plane. Everybody is watching. The airport is going nuts. My wife and I are there and I'm hitting it hard, I'm hitting it hard, come on, Jack. I'm hitting it hard.

What I was talking about, what a mistake Augusta made there. God, all mighty. I beg him to go back. I begged him to go back one more year and so did Barbara but he didn't. For the greatest player that won that tournament six times, Augusta, he finishes on 9.

You can't do that. You are supposed to yank his ass out there and say, you are going off the front. I don't give a damn if you are playing by yourself. You are going to finish on 18. You are going to take that walk. He never had a shot to take that walk. I couldn't believe it. I was absolutely dumb founded.

I said, what in the hell are they thinking about?. He never got a chance to come up 18. He came up 9.

Those people are not going to leave 18 to watch him walk 9. It was too bad.

'86, when he won that tournament, he had a putter that looked like a sailboat. That thing looked like a sailboat. It was made out of aluminum. That thing was light, too. It was big. Hell, my first car wasn't that big. He could putt with it, too. He could putt with anything. Jack, the way he stroked, his mannerisms of putting, he could put with a broom. It didn't make any difference what he putted with.

Q. A couple of years ago you said Tiger would break Jack's record, what are your thoughts on that now??

LEE TREVINO: He will be back. His game will be back. I think he is having some problems. Commercial wise. I don't think he ever will comeback.

Game wise, once he gets his head screwed on straight and he gets rid of all of these guroons (phn) that are trying to teach him, he will be fine. He needs to look at his films from '02, go back to the way he swung there. Or call Butch Harmon, get back with him. Butch is probably the best out there. I don't know if Butch will take him back. That's the other thing. I think he will do fine.

But Lanny Wadkins made a statement the other day, we did a press conference to kick off the Salesmanship luncheon for the Dallas tournament, and that question was asked about Tiger and Jack Nicklaus's record.

I said, yes, I think he will do it. He needs 5 more.

Lanny says, I think it's 50/50 as far as I am concerned. I will tell you why. He said, when Jack won his major championships, he had five or six guns after him.

He says, Tiger won those first 14, and he didn't have a lot of guns on top of him.

And Lanny said now, the way the world TOUR is, and the first 4, number 1 2, 3, 4, ranking, players are from Europe, he said I think it's going to be harder for him to win the next 5 than it was the first 14.

And I thought about that for a minute. You know what? He may have something there. It may be tougher for him to win the next five.

So I don't know. It's up in the air. These players are coming out now with Tiger, and they can play. They can really play.

I never thought that I would see the day when I would see the first 4 players World Ranking not Americans. I never thought I would see that.

Q. You taught yourself to play; he has changed his swing dramatically three times, is that hard to believe??

LEE TREVINO: Yes, especially when you are winning everything. You are winning 6 tournaments in a row, and then you are holding all 4 trophies at one time, and then you are change your swing. What the hell for? Who are you trying to beat yourself? He succeeded.

He beat himself. I don't know how you do that.

He has such a passion. You have to understand Tiger is very dedicated to the game. He has a passion for it.

I had the same thing, but I never changed my swing. My passion was getting a lot of confidence. My confidence came from out of ground. The more I practiced, the more confidence I got.

And Tiger maybe gets bothered practicing the same way all the time, wants to try something else. He has just tried too many things.

I would love to see him go back to the original and just pound balls. Do you remember how he played? He won 6 in a row. How the hell do you win six in a row of anything?

Q. A couple of times??

LEE TREVINO: Yes. He won 6 in a row. And then he held all of the trophies and then he changes. And then he is getting gurus (phn) that's never won nothing. You know what I'm talking about?

At least Harmon, he played The TOUR. His dad was a hell of a teacher, Claude Harmon. Butch knows his stuff. He knows his stuff. Randy Smith in Dallas knows his stuff. That's where my son goes. Hell, I ain't teaching my son. You crazy? Outside in, all of that. No. Hell no, I'm not teaching him that.

Q. Wait a second, you are talking about your son, you're a great player, and you are talking about these Europeans, who are pretty diverse, interesting guys, that's what making them good players, how do you deal with that? You are well aware that the things that make you great is dealing with adversity and having your own swing. It's a struggle for you to say, I use to hit with a coke bottle.

LEE TREVINO: Yes, we played courses like this, I would never be able to play the courses they are playing now with my golf swing. I would have had to change it. I couldn't have go in there with low fades. Hell, I couldn't reach any of the par 4's. You know what I'm saying? No way.

I would be hitting drivers to par 3s they are playing. They're playing 250 par 3s, are you kidding me? I wouldn't be able to play with this thing. I did the best I could do with what I had, but I was lucky that I came along when the golf courses averaged 6800, 6900 like this one year.

Naturally, the ball didn't go as far, or I didn't have the clubs. I hit the ball farther now than I did when I was 30. But that's the equipment. So is everybody else hitting it long.

But by the equipment being the way that it is it still gives me a chance the score a little on a course like this.

When you take me to Pelican Hill over there and put me on the back tees I'd shoot a smooth running 83 at you. And I won't miss a fairway. I won't lose a ball. It's just too long for me.

Q. What do you miss most about The TOUR, competition or the camaraderie??

LEE TREVINO: Camaraderie. Competition is over when I played when I was 63, 64. I knew I couldn't compete anymore. You lose the desire. You are the only one that knows when you lose it? It's when you get in the car, and you are driving to the golf course, and you want to turn around and go home.

Or you go to the golf course, and you take out your bag and your practice balls, and you hit 25 golf balls, and you say, well, that's enough. Then you put your clubs back in the car and you go home. You spend less time practicing than you do driving back and forth to the house. That's when you know you lost your desire. It's not there anymore.

If you don't have a passion and a desire you won't concentrate on what you are trying to do. You got to have that. It's instilled in you.

You got to lose it because eventually you are smart enough to realize that you come to grips with reality that you can't compete anymore. And when you can't compete anymore it's time to just put it up. Just don't play anymore. Play with your friends.

Because of what I've done in all of these years with being crazy, people want to play golf with me. I do more for charity than probably anyone simply because people always want to play golf with me and will donate to something.

I built a kitchen Sunday. Sunday I played with two guys in Palm Springs at BIGHORN.

Yesterday I played with 3 guys at Pelican Hill. You know what they did for me? They built a kitchen at Delta Gamma, paid $25,000 to play for the sorority.

They came to me at the sorority when I was having a hamburger, coke and French fries, minding my own business in October. My daughter is vice president there. She goes to USC. She graduates this year. Mr. Trevino I need a new kitchen. I said, well, I didn't bring a hammer. I can't do anything for you. No, I got some people that are willing to put up the money if you play golf with them.

I said how much is the kitchen going to cost you? She said 25,000. I said I will play with them. And that's what I did.

I flew down to Pam Springs, played golf with two guys from San Francisco. And I played with 3 guys yesterday from San Francisco. Their daughters go to school there. Delta Gamma. That's who they beat up. And they put up $25,000 and this summer they'll build it. I will never see the kitchen because my daughter graduates this year. I do all of that.

In Ft. Worth we have 560 Junior Golfers. I actually fund that whole program in the summer. How I got it? Last year, we were in Boca, who sponsors Boca? Allianz.

Allianz asked me to come and go to their business party and do a speech. The guy says what's it going to cost me? I gave him a card and I said send $10,000 to the Ft. Worth Junior Golf Association. He said, you got it. Three days later we got the money. That's what I do. Like doing it. I don't want the money. What the hell am I going to do with it? I just give it away.

My wife giver me $20 a week whether I need it or not. And I can't get in trouble with it. That's all.

Q. No money games??

LEE TREVINO: You can't find them anymore. Nobody plays for money anymore. Nobody plays for money. We played $5.00 yesterday, and I won all three ways and I never got paid. They never paid me. Nobody plays for money anymore. Those games are gone.

We used to play $100, $200. Nobody plays.

And the reason, handicaps. Everybody has a handicap. It's not right. The handicap is not true. They turn in scores and get a handicap. You play, I'm a little bit better than you, what do you want? 2 a side? I will give you 2. You beat the guy. You give him 3. He might win, take it back to 2. That's the way you do it.

Now they want handicaps. I'm a 10, when the guy is really a 5. You can't beat him.

But if he is a true handicapper he can't win. He only gets 80 percent out of the ten best scores. He doesn't realize that. He think it's 100%. You take a 5, 6 handicapper, that's an 80 shooter. He thinks he is a 76, 75 shooter. When you turn in 20 scores they only take the best 10. Then you only get 80 percent of that.

So your handicap is not 100%. Me, in my club, I'm actually a plus 2. So now he is really dead because I get him on this side, and I got him on this side.

There is no more games. We play for nothing. I play with Herb Durham twice a week. He is 86. We play in a couple of hours. We have the record at Preston Trails. A guy by the name of Semens and I, we played an hour 38 minutes, 2 carts at 12 o'clock. This is how busy the course was. A day like this, noon we teed off, because they stopped serving lunch at 2, and we wanted to make sure we get the buffet. We teed off at 2. We finished at 1:38, and it was beautiful day like this. We teed off noon and didn't go through a group. We were the only twosome on the golf course.

But Heb and I have the greatest record of all. Twice, he and I have gone through a onesome.

DAVE SENKO: I want to ask you one more question. Shoal Creek this year for The Tradition, what do you remember about that tournament?

LEE TREVINO: For the exception of this one, of this golf course, and how much these players love this course, this Shoal Creek is going to be special.

Now they can call The Tradition, in my opinion, a Major because it's going to a golf course that deserves to be called a Major. This golf course is mean. Nicklaus was there, but Mr. Holt Thompson had everything to do with how he did this.

If you look, it has a lot of Hilton Head in it, for the exception that it's longer. And it's a new modern golf course that looks traditional.

In other words, it doesn't have all of this fancy stuff. It's just flat out. It doesn't have all of these humps and bumps and stuff all over it. It just goes in there like this and there is the green. It's mean. It's a mean golf course. That tournament is going to be fantastic.

I'm going to bet you that they will have, on the weekend for that tournament, I will bet you they will have between 35 and 45,000 a day there. No question. There is nothing else to do in Alabama that time of year. Without Talladega and The Tide not playing, there ain't nothing going on in Alabama. That's the only venue.

If they're not racing, or The Tide is not playing, it's dead. Nothing else going on there. But it will be special.

Q. What do you remember about playing there??

LEE TREVINO: I drove the ball extremely well there. The rough was very, very deep. But I drove the ball so well there.

The only thing that I remember is that I rented a house away from Shoal Creek, and away from the City, and I had to drive through these bushes and the limbs were hitting the car window and stuff and this house was over on the lake, and I didn't have any drapes or anything. My wife was scared. We hadn't been married that long. We had a sword. We took a sword off the wall and slept with it.

We didn't know what with an is going on. That's what I remember most. It was like a chapter out of deliverance.

I mean that's the only time my wife every got close to me in the car. She was right on top of me. The limbs were hitting the car window. I said holy shit, we got to go back to that house. She said, oh my God, what is it? I said, I don't know. Every night.

But the thing that I remember the most is after I won. And the media got me, and I didn't leave there until 10, and I was playing a Pro Am in Ft. Worth the next day at Diamond Oaks for charity, and a guy came and got me in a prop plane. It was raining when we finished. It started raining like hell. We got in that airplane. About 10:30, and he starts down the runway and that rain was hitting the windshield so hard, only a 4 passenger, the rain was hitting this thing so hard that you couldn't see anything.

And we got about 50, 75 yards down the runway, the plane goes (indicating). And it stopped. He said, that damn fuel pump. I've had trouble with that fuel pump. Holy shit. He turned around and come back and I took off with him. That was the damndest thing I've ever done. It died. That damn full pump, I've been having trouble with that fuel pump. I should have got out there. I didn't think about Rich Valley and those guys.

But anyway, I had a great week there. I wasn't playing The TOUR regular. I was announcing for NBC playing that tournament. And I bought that putter in Holland, it was a Ping. I putted like hell with it there. As a matter of fact it's in there. It's there over the fireplace, you will see it. I had it put in a trophy case for Mr. Holt Thompson. They will enjoy it.

DAVE SENKO: Didn't you have to borrow a hat there?

LEE TREVINO: I'm in the locker room, and I forgot my hat. My assistant, you remember, he was there with me. I said, go to the pro shop and buy me a hat. A little old man about 80. He had a hat on. He said, Mr. Trevino, use mine. It was beige. You could have deep fried a chicken with all of the oil on this hat.

Really. You could have deep fried something. This thing was oily. It was bad.

So I said, I'll take the hat. So I wore that hat and I won it.

If you see the film it has the little Shoal Creek thing on it. Usually when I finish some kid will say, Mr. Trevino, let me have your hat. And I am signing something, and I will go like this. Shit, nobody asked me for this hat. So I'm still wearing the hat. Here it is 10at night, I walk out of the pressroom, I have had at least 8 beers, and I walk out of there and there is a little lady standing at the edge of the fence there.

And she says Mr. Trevino? I said, yes. Could I have your hat? I said no, ma'am, a gentleman gave me this hat, it was a good luck charm and I am keeping it.

She said, that's why I asking you for the hat. That was my husband's. So I gave her the hat back. But nobody wanted it. It had enough oil in it to fry a chicken. I will tell you, it was unbelievable. Thank you.