Tom Weiskopf, golf champion and golf course architect, dies

Tom Weiskopf’s golf skills have outstripped his 16 wins on the PGA Tour and his only major win at the Royal Troon in the British Open. He’s always been outspoken, often outspoken, and incredibly precise in the television booth. He had even greater success designing golf courses.

Weiskopf died Saturday at his home in Big Sky, Mont., aged 79, his wife said. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2020.

Laurie Weiskopf said last week Tom worked at The Club at Spanish Peaks and attended a legacy luncheon at the signature club where he is designing “The Legacy: Tom’s Ten,” a collection featuring 10 of his favorite par 3s.

“He worked to the end. It was amazing,” she said. “He’s had a big life.”

The son of a railroad worker in Ohio, Weiskopf once said that he loved the game before he even started playing. His father took him to the 1957 US Open at Inverness and he was mesmerized to see such pure exposure Sam Snead.

“You had dinner with Tom and loved every minute of it,” Andy North said Sunday. “The sad thing is he’s lost on how good he is. Every time he hits a shot, it’s beautiful.”

Pure exposure was his mark at Ohio State and then his career on tour. At 6 feet-3 – tall for golf at the time – Weiskopf had a powerful and rhythmic swing, natural and athletic. His best year was in 1973, when he won the world championship seven times, including the pint and the World Series of Golf at Firestone before it was an official touring event.

He’s equally known for the majors he didn’t win and the competition he faced – especially Jack Nicklaus, the star from Ohio who was several years ahead of him on tour. acting and cast a huge shadow on Weiskopf throughout his entire career.

Weiskopf has four second-place finishes at the Masters, the most of any player who has not won the blue shirt. Most memorable was in 1975, when Weiskopf and Johnny Miller were on the 16th tee as they watched Nicklaus hit a 40-foot birdie on the hole in the slopes that led him to another victory.

He is famous for saying about Nicklaus: “Jack knows he’s going to hit you. You know Jack’s going to hit you. And Jack knows you know he’s going to hit you.”

Adding to that was his interview with Golf Digest in 2008 when Weiskopf said: “Going against Jack Nicklaus in a major is like trying to drain the Pacific Ocean with a cup of tea. You stand at the tee. first knowing that your best golf may not be good enough.”

Weiskopf is good at so many things, but he often says that he hasn’t made the most of his talents. He attributes much of it to his drinking, which he once said ruined his golfing career. He gave up alcohol in 2007 and considers it one of his great feats.

Nicklaus once said of him, “Tom Weiskopf has as much talent as any player I’ve ever seen playing on tour.”

He also said that he was never passionate enough about golf. His love is outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. Weiskopf skipped the 1977 Ryder Cup to go sheep hunting.

Free spirit and unfiltered thoughts are an important part of his personality. His short temper has led to nicknames such as “Towering Inferno” and “Terrible Tom”. So much of that is rooted in his high standards when it comes to golf.

“I can’t accept defeat when it’s my fault,” he said after winning the 2005 US Senior Open championship at Congressional. “It’s only used to tear me to pieces.”

Weiskopf’s last PGA Tour win was the 1982 Western Open. His final year on the PGA Tour was a year later. He’s played on the PGA Tour Champions, and it’s probably only fitting that his only major is the Senior Open with four shots ahead of Nicklaus.

His TV commentary for CBS at the Masters and for ABC/ESPN are all about candor.

He was competing at the 1986 Masters when Nicklaus was on his way to victory at age 46. Nicklaus was on his 16th tee when CBS host Jim Nantz brought Weiskopf in and asked, “What’s going on? in Jack’s head right now?”

“If I had known how he thought, I would have won this championship,” Weiskopf replied with a laugh.

Weiskopf partnered with golf course architect Jay Moorish and their first collaboration was Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., named the best new course of 1986 by Golf Digest. He has done 25 courses. with Moorish and then worked with Phil Smith.

Among the 80 courses Weiskopf designed is Loch Lomond in Scotland and in 2016 a renovation of the North Courtyard at Torrey Pines matches his standards – challenging at the highest level, fun for all everyone.

One of his design standards is the drivable par 4. Inspiration came from playing the Old Course at St. Andrews, where he can drive four of the par 4s, depending on the wind.

Weiskopf once told Golf Digest of his career: “I should have done more. “But I don’t care about it anymore. I’ll say this, though: If it weren’t for the fact that I love so much of what I’m doing now (golf course design), I would probably be very upset. unhappy people.”

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