To hear people talk, you'd think I was worse than John
Dillinger. Tommy (Thunder) Bolt, that's me, the fellow who
everybody says had such a temper. Now, I'll admit that I got
frustrated with myself and flipped my lid a few times, but I won
the 1958 U.S. Open, too. I beat Ben Hogan in a playoff at the
1960 Memphis Open, a tournament I'll never forget. I hit a ball
stiff to the flag to beat him, and while the ball was still in
the air, Hogan said, "Nice shot." Those were the only words he
said all day.
I'm 82 now. I play four or five times a week, still shoot in the
70s and haven't thrown a club in years. I watch the young
players on TV. Ernie Els, he's smooth. Tiger Woods? I can't say
I believe he's worth the ballyhoo he's gotten. He needs to get
his swing under control before he impresses me as much as Els
Speaking of Woods and control, do you remember when he got mad
and threw his club a few months ago? I didn't like seeing that,
and I'll tell you why. Like a lot of golfers in my day, I came
from poverty. That means pressure. Money pressure. It's survival
pressure, and that's the kind that can make you snap. If I
didn't win, I might not eat dinner. I might not be able to get
to the next tournament. Many's the time I sold my golf balls to
get money to gas up the car. Can you imagine players today doing
that? They've got competitive pressure, sure, but that's not the
same as money pressure. It can be tough playing golf under
competitive pressure, but those guys are millionaires and they
shouldn't be throwing clubs.
Do you know what I'd do if I had the money these spoiled brats
out there today get for playing? I'd live on half my income and
give the rest to the poor, that's what. And I promise you, I'd
never flip my lid even once.
Tommy Bolt won 15 titles and $320,792 in 14 years on Tour.