Gator Catchin', Orangutan Boxin', and My Wild Ride to the PGA Tour
By Boo Weekley, Paul Brown
St. Martin's Press Copyright © 2011 Boo Weekley with Paul Brown
All rights reserved.
I Am What I Am
Hey, thanks for picking up this book. You know, it could've been titled True Thomas Brent, written by Thomas Brent Weekley. That's my real name. If it were, though, you probably wouldn't have picked it up, 'cause you know me as Boo. I've been going by Boo for so long that it almost doesn't seem like a nickname anymore. They've been calling me that since back in the day in Jay, Florida, population 687, give or take a few, depending on the day. You'll have to keep reading to find out how I started going by Boo, but let me just say it's been a good name for me as a professional golfer. It's sorta nice 'cause it doesn't really matter if I flub a chip shot or sink a 30-foot putt — the crowd always has the same reaction. They "Boooooo" me.
Seriously, though, there must be something in the water down there in the panhandle of Florida, where I come from, and I ain't talking about no oil. That's a whole different story, and I probably shouldn't get started on that. Nah, I'm talking about something else in the water. Some sort of magic golf potion or something, 'cause little East Milton High School down there produced three pro golfers who currently play on the PGA Tour. Heath Slocum, Bubba Watson, and I all come from that little school. Oh, and all of us have won at least one championship on the Tour. Like I said, magic golf potion.
Pro golfer or not, though, I sometimes have trouble finding my place in the world of PGA golf. I'll get into all of that more in the pages ahead, but let's just say now that I've been called things like "a nobody from nowhere" and the "Crocodile Dundee of Golf." Maybe they call me that because they think I act like or live like the Crocodile Dundee character, or maybe it's because they think I'm out of my element in the world of golf (like Crocodile Dundee was out of his element in the big city). Either way, it's pretty clear I don't fit the mold of a PGA star. In deer-huntin' terms, I reckon you could say I'm a "nontypical."
Listen, I'm a redneck who'd rather watch a NASCAR race than a golf tournament, okay? I just happen to be pretty good at golf. Plus, though a lot of folks know me 'cause of what I do on the course, I'd say most know me best for what I do off it. I have a reputation for rasslin' alligators, fighting primates, and playing practical jokes using snakes as the punch line. Well, okay, fightin' primates and playing pranks with snakes ... yes, sir. Guilty as charged. I just ain't never rassled no gator. I've roped a few, for sure, but no down-in-the-mud rasslin'. Not that I'm opposed to the idea. Just never done it. Only caught them suckers — cowboy style.
When I was younger, we'd lasso them gators because they'd get after my granddaddy's cows, especially the calves. Once we'd get 'em caught up, we'd duct-tape their mouths so they couldn't bite (you know, they really ought to list "gator mouth taping" as a use for that stuff), and we'd put 'em in the back of the truck and execute "Operation Gator Relocation." We'd just relocate those bad boys to a safer place. I guess you could call it our own little version of "Gator Aid."
Anyway, all this is to say you never know what you're gonna get with me. The media can attest to that. In fact, they did just that when I received one of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten from a reporter. I'd just signed my scorecard after a tournament and had stopped at the water cooler on the way to the club house to get a sip, when I overheard one of the media guys talkin' about me. He said, "You know what? Out of all the golfers I talk with, Boo Weekley's got to be the best interview day in and day out. You never know what's going to come out of his mouth. He's always going to tell you something funny, or he's going to make a joke about it. By far, Boo's one of the greatest at giving interviews." I really felt good when I overheard that.
Of course, I wouldn't say I always give the greatest interviews, and I've got some stories I'll share later on along those lines. Let's just say there are probably some reporters who think I'm a tad rude at times. Well, I blame that on the fact that I treat everyone the same depending on my mood, so when I'm not in a good one, that's what you get. I guess I treat everybody the same because of who I am and where I'm from. Like they say, a nobody from nowhere.
I grew up in a working-class family. I learned what it meant to work a hard job (and you're going to learn about that, too, if you keep readin'). We went to church on Sunday, said grace before meals, kissed one another, said "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am," removed our hats indoors, and did all the polite southern things for the ladies. Probably most importantly, though, as kids, we played outdoors.
Maybe I took it for granted or just didn't know no better, but I lived in the outdoors growing up. I was free to go to my grandparents' place on the river to swim, fish, and hunt whenever I wanted. Nowadays, it seems, kids just want to sit inside and look at screens of some sort all day. Not me. I played outdoors all day, every day and, in my opinion, that's the only way to play. Shoot, that's the only way to live.
I also played every sport there was. Soccer, baseball, football, basketball — everything. Oh wait; there is one sport I didn't play: golf. At least not until I was fourteen years old, and I really only took it up then because I kept getting hurt playing all them other sports. I'll fill you in on all of that here in a bit, but let me just say golf wasn't exactly a breeze for me (even though I didn't get hurt much playing it). Despite what people might think, it seems nothing comes easy for me. I have to work hard at whatever I do, and golf was no different. I toiled on the minitours for five years before getting my PGA Tour card, and I was living out of my truck most of that time. I might've driven ten to twelve hours or something just to play in one minitour event, hoping to win $2,000. Yet it'd cost me $200 for the chance to win that money, and if I didn't win it ... Well, you do the math. Even with a number of good wins, it was often barely enough to get by.
So I had to work hard. Had to keep at it. Had to keep improving my game. It wasn't easy to stay on track though, 'cause I'd get so dang aggravated when I wasn't playing well. Still do. The most frustrating part of golf for me is when I'm not hitting the ball right. Putting is always going to be a weakness for me, and I know that, so I'm not too bent out of shape about it. I ain't never gonna be the Brad Faxon of the PGA Tour — he's the best putter ever to play the game, in my opinion — or a Zach Johnson, or Heath Slocum. Nah, I'm a ball striker, so when I'm not hitting the ball, it's annoying as all get-out. Sometimes I'll tee the shot, I'll visualize the shot, and then I'll stand over it and I still can't hit it. That's when I get aggravated. Of course, sometimes things happen that put me right up there in the clouds, too.
The most amazing shot I've ever made was when I was an amateur. I was on the Pensacola team, and we were playing against the Mobile, Alabama, team. My partner and I teed it up on a par 4. The other team hit first. I asked my partner, "Whatcha think?"
It was 289 yards to the hole. "Why don't you go ahead and hit your driver?" he suggested. "See if you can hit it up on the green, because I can lay it up on the fairway."
I got up there, hit my driver like my partner suggested, and the ball looked like it was going to make the green. "Get down, get down," I said. Then, all of a sudden, bam! It dropped in the hole. I'm talkin' string music, baby. Nothin' but net. Swish! Hole in one. Straight into the hole, and the hole exploded, like a bomb had gone off. Like a meteor hitting the earth. A 6-inch cup blew up into a 10-inch cup. That ball blew the grass away from the hole. That was the greatest shot I've ever hit in golf.
It's a rare enough thing to have a hole in one anyway, so my greatest shot ever really had to be one. I've had only nine in my lifetime, and only one on tour, at the Viking Classic in Madison, Mississippi, in 2007. It was the 12th hole during the 2nd round; I hit an 8-iron. I was playing with my buddy Heath Slocum, with his daddy, Jack, caddying. The funny thing about that was when I got paired with Heath, I walked up to Jack at the first tee box for some friendly trash talkin'. I was like, "Get ready for an ass whoopin' today, 'cause I'm fixin' to give ya'll one." Jack said, "Well, bring it, son. We're ready for you." That was just us having some fun, and fun is what it's all about.
When I made the Tour again in 2007, my agenda was to have fun instead of looking at golf as a job — and boy, did I ever have some serious fun, starting then and on through to today. The Ryder Cup in 2008, for example, was the most fun I've ever had in a tournament. I still get chills just thinking about it or seeing a replay of it on TV. What a thrill and an honor to play on Team U.S.A. in such a phenomenal event. You can read all about it in the next chapter, but let me say that what I've learned most since 2007 is that it isn't golf that makes golf fun. It's people who make it fun.
My caddy, Joe Pyland, is also my teammate (and a close friend). We go way back. Joe and I were high school classmates. He's my right-hand man, and boy, does he like to work. Many times he'll go around the course without me. He'll laser different elevations, look at grass thicknesses and grains, and on and on. I'll bet Joe walks 5-12 miles a day, and on five of those days he's totin' a bag that'll weigh 30-40 pounds easy. Joe believes in what he's doing, and I trust him. Oh, and I pay him (base plus percentage of winnings), so he has a financial interest, too. Bottom line: The man works hard for the money. So hard for it, honey. He works hard for the money, so (I guess he figures) he'd better get it right.
Joe's been through a lot more than golf, and he's been under a whole lot more pressure in his life than I have. He served two tours with the army in Iraq. Sometimes I get up-tight out there on the course about a lie or a shot, and then I'll look over at Joe and think, That man's been through hell on a mule, and here I am worried about a dang golf shot. Ain't nobody gonna die over this shot, so just calm down and hit the dang thing.
Now, Joe is cool and all, but the love of my life is my wife. I don't want to give away too much, so I won't say a lot about that here, but I'm madly in love with that woman. Then there are my two boys, Parker and Aiden. They can't grow up fast enough for me so I can take 'em out on the water and into the woods with me to teach them the immeasurable glories of huntin' and fishin'. Now, I'll play golf with my boys, too, of course, but if they want to pursue it like I have — well, that's their choice. I ain't gonna push it on 'em. That's not what life's about. I just want to give them what my father gave me, and that's a love of the outdoors. Everything else will take care of itself.
There are two things I really love about golf: First, it's played outdoors, and second, it's played in front of a bunch of fans. Well, okay, I guess I can't say I love playing in front of all of them fans. I have to be honest and say I'd rather some fans stayed home. Some of them will say the darnedest things. If I could trade places with those fans and put them inside the ropes, maybe then they'd see just how dim-witted they sound. It's one thing if I'm playing good and I make a birdie and get encouragement from the fans, but it's another thing if I'm sitting there at 4 over and there's a guy behind me yellin', "Boo, you gotta make this one. I got money on you!" Man, I don't want to hear that when I'm out there! I almost want to miss it on purpose just to shut that guy up.
Oh, but there's something worse. You probably wouldn't think it, but there is one "southern" phrase I just don't like hearin' from fans. I was playing at the TPC Sawgrass in 2009 and getting ready to tee off when a guy shouted out, "Git 'er done, Boo!" Okay, now, I appreciate the sentiment and all, but that expression is kind of like nails on a chalkboard for me. I mean, Larry the Cable Guy hung out with us and entertained us at my annual charity event in 2010, and he's a funny man, for sure. I like him a lot — but I hate that line. I guess everyone thinks they should shout that out at me since I'm the country boy. Man oh man, how I hate that line.
Anyway, all that aside, most of the time I love my fans. The fans at the 2008 Ryder Cup were the best. They were definitely the thirteenth man out there. Even when I'd hit a bad shot, they'd yell out stuff like "It's okay, Boo. You've got it, man." They really lit a fire under me, and got me wanting to give them all a good show. Which I did, I think.
You just gotta love the kids on the golf courses, too. They don't care if you're shooting 100 or you're shootin' the fur off that thing. "Go get 'em, Boo!" they'll yell. "You're my favorite!" Hearing stuff like that from them kids makes it all worthwhile. It ain't just me they're yelling for, of course. Those kids all have their favorites, like Tiger, and they say the same things to him. Sometimes I just want to go into the stands and hug those kids, and hang out with all the cool fans supporting me out there. It's a shame that the Tour's gotten away from how it used to be, when players like Fuzzy Zeller and Lee Trevino played. Trevino would hit a shot, walk over to a fan, and ask, "What did you think about that shot?" That can make someone's day, and I ain't just talkin' about the fans. I'm talkin' about the players, too.
So I try to include the fans when I can. I ain't supposed to do this, but I walk outside the ropes with my family and friends and speak to the fans to let 'em know I'm one of them. I thank them for their support, too, because it really does mean the world to me. The Tour doesn't want me to walk outside the ropes, but I do it anyway. I like being with the people.
I hope someday the Tour stops trying to pull us players away from the fans. It's almost like they want us to act like robots or something. They don't let us be who we are. They fine us for things like hitting our bags. I just don't get that. It's my bag, isn't it? Why can't I beat the darn thing? They're my golf clubs, right? If I want to break them or throw them down, why can't I? I mean, I can understand that if there are thousands of people lined up along the fairway, you can't go tomahawkin' your club. Yeah, I get that. If you do it then, you ought to be fined (maybe even go to jail if you hurt someone). However, if you toss your club on the ground a few yards in front of you 'cause you're human and you get aggravated, you shouldn't be fined for that. We pro golfers aren't perfect. We're people. We do things people do. So I wish the Tour would just let us show some blasted emotion!
Anyway, enough of that. You go on ahead and read about my adventures during the Ryder Cup. I'm gonna go get ready to pay the fine I'm about to get hit with for writing that last paragraph.
Buck Up and Wear a Ryder Cup
I never thought much about how or if I'd become famous. It never crossed my mind as a golfer. What crossed my mind, in 2008, was that the United States had lost its swagger and hadn't won the Ryder Cup since squeaking by in 1999 with a 14½–13½ victory (the closest score possible without tying) over the Europeans. After that, Europe won the next three. In 2004 and 2006, they beat us up pretty good. It was like we just couldn't get fully focused on golf after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I wasn't on the team in 2002, 2004, or 2006, but I know how I felt on 9/11. I sure as heck wasn't thinking about golf for a while. The year 2008 was different, though. We were in the South, in Louisville, Kentucky, home to the greatest horse race in the world. We were the underdogs in this, the 37th Ryder Cup, and that seems to be when America is at her best. I don't think golf fans expected what was coming — I know the Europeans didn't — but it was high time we got our swagger back.
The Ryder Cup is a trophy. An American team and a European team play each other for that trophy in biannual "matches." In 2001, the years went from odd (1999) to even (2002), because they skipped 2001 because of the 9/11 attacks. (Continues...)
Excerpted from True Boo by Boo Weekley, Paul Brown. Copyright © 2011 Boo Weekley with Paul Brown. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.