“You want to make the same stroke on most putts, but sometimes it pays to customize it. On left-to-right putts, lean your hands down the target line in an exaggerated forward press. As with full swings, this will help you close the face through impact.”
– Six-time Major winner Lee Trevino
A month ago on a Monday afternoon, my friend, Chuck Hunter, called and said, “We’re just here for a fun round. Come over to the club (The Kansas City Country Club). Get a cart. We will be on the backside.” “We,” as it turned out, included Lee Trevino, who was scheduled to play a round in support of the First Tee along with Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus the following day.
I was looking forward to shaking his hand and being entertained for a few holes. As two-time Major winner Fuzzy Zoeller said, “Lee’s got more lines than the Illinois Railroad.” True to reputation, over five holes (Nos. 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14) he talked before, during and after his swing. The topics ranged from golf course architecture to Tiger’s physical ailments to how well his friend, Tom Watson, is swinging the club these days, to oscillating greenside fans (He is pro fan.) to babysitting for a very young Michael Watson while his dad was on the practice range to his and Chuck’s mutual friends, to his bad knees to marital tips to how to properly putt (“Push the handle toward the hole.”) Let’s put it this way: there were no moments of silence.
There was, however, the sound of purity, near perfection, whenever he hit the ball. As Chuck Hunter has always said, “The pros are so much better than you think. Their consistency is hard to imagine. Their ball striking is unbelievable.”
To be honest, I went over to the club more excited about listening to Trevino than watching him play. Yes, he had won six Majors and 29 times on both the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour, but he was 79 years old (He will be 80 on Dec. 1). I was thinking, “How good can he be these days?”
Playing from the Silver tees (6,298 yards with five par 3s), he is on in regulation on No. 10 and makes an easy par 4.
On No. 11, he hits his drive 250 yards right down the middle. He missed his 12-foot, downhill birdie putt by an inch.
On No. 12, a 195-yard par 3, he is on in regulation, but 30 feet past the pin. Easy two-putt par.
On No. 13, 145 yards out, walks away with par 4.
Although his always-go-to fade swing has been called “unorthodox,” “unique” and “unusual,” it remains incredibly reliable -- no muss, no fuss, no miss. On the 200-yard, par-3 14th (see photo), he pulled out a 25-year-old 2 wood and faded it to within 7 feet of the pin, which was back left. Yes, he made the birdie putt! Just for record, Michael Watson hit a 6 iron on 14 and put it within 10 feet.