Catching up with a Great Grand Champion: Don January

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Don January won the Champions Tour's first event in 1980.
August 12, 2013
By Mark Williams, Champions Tour staff

An original member of the Champions Tour, Don January won the circuit’s original event in 1980 – the Atlantic City Senior International – the first of 22 victories in his Champions Tour career. January was also the leading money winner in 1980, ‘83 and ‘84. On the PGA TOUR, he won 10 times with his biggest win coming at the 1967 PGA Championship at Columbine Country Club in Denver.

Q: What have you done with your trophies over the years?

January: What trophies? (laughs) Well, I don’t know. I guess they are around the house or somewhere. My wife put up some of the stuff from the later years. We have some trophies of that good stuff, the Waterford, and they look quite pretty. But the old trophies, I guess I don’t have any of them around and I don’t see them in the house anywhere. I don’t know what happened to them but there wasn’t that many to start with.

Q: They’re in storage somewhere?

January: Maybe. I don’t know.

Q: How much do you practice now?

January: How about never? Is that enough? I don’t. Just like I tell my kids and grandkids, I’ve hit enough golf balls. I really don’t need to hit anymore golf balls in my lifetime. I never did like to practice much and that’s probably the reason why I didn’t play as well as I wanted to. I just never really did. I enjoy going out to play golf rather than practice golf.

Q: What was the first paying job that you ever had?

January: Well, my dad was a roofing contractor so I worked with him on the roof. I was about 10 years old and I made 25 cents an hour.

Q: And how long did you do that for him?

January: Until I got good enough and big enough that I could go play in golf tournaments. He wouldn’t force me up on the roof. But I worked off and on with him until I got out of college.

Q: You won the first ever Champions Tour event. We are coming up on crowning the 1,000th champion. Can you comprehend that we have had almost 1,000 winners and you won the first one?

January: No, no I can’t. I know when we started all of this we just kind of felt like we still wanted to compete and play but there really wasn’t a place for us. There was a half a dozen of us and we just got together and talked about it. The idea came from playing in the Legends. We thought we had a product to sell but we didn’t know how the market was and not any of us ever dreamed it would be what it is today. I’m certainly glad it is. It gave the professional golfers who wanted to play golf and not be a home pro, a place to play for his entire life. Before that, we got on the regular TOUR and if you did any good, that got you a job somewhere at some club. If you were 35 or 40 you really didn’t compete anymore. And of course now, when the kids start at 17 or 19, however old they are, they can play until they are 80. I just think it’s wonderful.