Little Big Man

September 06, 1998

I am 3'9" tall, and, yes, I've got a great short game. I've made
more than 200 movies, from Gold Diggers of 1933 to Harum Scarum,
with Elvis Presley, but I started out as a jock. My dad never
told me I was too small for sports, so I lettered in football at
Los Angeles City College, playing halfback and flanker, and in
basketball at Cal State Los Angeles. After my first round of
golf, in 1944, I was hooked in a big way.

My custom-made spikes are children's size 12EEE, but my head and
heart are full-sized. I have a flat swing. You would too if you
used a 40-inch driver and your hands were only 18 inches off the
ground. Like other little people, I have arms that don't
straighten all the way, but at impact they are as straight as
they'll go. I drive the ball about 165 yards. The green is where
I catch up with the big guys. I'll study how other players'
approach shots land and roll, and how their putts break. Then I
step up and roll mine in. You're looking at a seasoned tournament
player who once shot 87--a net 61, with my handicap--by one-putting
10 greens.

Michael Bolton, James Garner, Donald O'Connor and Mickey Rooney
have all been my partners in Hollywood golf, but I care more
about getting little people to play. At the first little people's
tournament, which I organized in 1960, nobody kept score. We hit
balls all over the place and had fun. There'll be more fun on
Oct. 18 and 19 at the 26th Billy Barty Golf Classic at Braemar
Country Club in Tarzana, Calif. George Lucas, my producer on
Willow, is our tournament chairman. We hope to raise $100,000 for
my foundation, which provides scholarships and medical help for
little people. Every foursome will have a celebrity or a little
person in it, and I'll spend the day on the 18th green,
pinch-putting for everybody. Drop by--I'll sink one for you.

Billy Barty, 73, founded the Little People of America in 1957.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH [Billy Barty putting]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)