By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
“I don’t pay much attention to it,” Lee Trevino said. “The good Lord knows the talent He’s given me. That’s why I worked so hard at it, because I’m going to have to meet him one day, and I don’t want him to be disappointed. I want him to look at me and say, ‘You know what, you don’t have to do nothing up here man; just take it easy.'”
Trevino, often regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time, stopped by the Texas Sports Hall of Fame to speak at the Lone Star Luncheon Wednesday afternoon. The Hall of Famer won six major championships and was PGA Player of the Year in 1971.
Before turning pro, Trevino was known as a “municipal golf course hustler” because he would constantly make and win bets against other golfers around the course. Trevino would easily dispatch opponents on the par-three course they played on and even had to get creative so players would continue betting with him.
“I was so good with a wedge, it got to the point where nobody would gamble with me,” Trevino said. “So I came up with this 32-ounce Dr Pepper bottle and put some adhesive tape on it. I could hit [the ball] 100 yards. I could actually put backspin on the ball … Best I ever shot was 29, 2-over. I played with it for four years, and I never got beat.”
This didn’t go unnoticed and even landed him a lucrative opportunity.
“That was the first endorsement I ever got,” Trevino said. “Dr Pepper paid me $50,000 a year for five years. We did the commercials and everything.”
Trevino said he didn’t start golf until he was around 22 years old, and his iconic career may have never happened had he not gotten into trouble at 16. He ended up in the Marine Corps, and after three years of service, an error was made. When Trevino was given incorrect orders, he went to his captain, and after some conversation, he was asked a simple question.
Do you play a sport?
Trevino said he told his captain he knew a little bit about golf. His captain made a quick call to another lieutenant to see if they needed any golfers, and that’s where Trevino was sent.
“I ended up on that team for two years,” Trevino said. “That’s all I did in the Marine Corps the last two years was play golf. I got pretty good at it.”
Looking back, Trevino said he is satisfied with the way things played out for him. Soon turning 83, he jokingly told the audience that if he falls off the stage, just bury him right there.
“It’s been a completely great life,” Trevino said. “The game I played and the way I played it — it wasn’t supposed to happen.”