I listened to the latest episode of the popular podcast SubPar the other day. The guest was Fuzzy Zoeller. I thought that he was an unusual subject given the podcast generally featured guests who were more current in the world of golf. The hosts ran through their usual queries – not exactly the most erudite interviewers – but SubPar is mostly a “jock cast” aimed at providing funny stories largely among the individuals with whom the hosts have either a past or current relationship. Then came the Fuzzy interview along with one of his daughters.
Fuzzy told old stories about his times on the Tour. Those “times” were, in his mind, “better times” when the players were more like a family compared to these days when players spend more time in the gym than in the bar (those misguided kids these days). The only reason I can fathom Zoeller was being interviewed was, he was available, there was no one better that week and he had a product to plug.
Zoeller was a top player back in the ’80s. He had surprisingly won his first tour of Augusta in 1979 and he beat Greg Norman in an 18-hole playoff in the 1984 U.S. Open. He was cast as a happy-go-lucky country boy wisecracking his way around the course. This image proved to be lucrative as he secured several high-profile sponsorships including mass retailer K-Mart (it was a big player back then). His reputation and all his sponsorships went down the drain in an instant after his fateful comments during the final stages of the 1997 Masters. If you don’t know or can’t recall what went down, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08GtymY1vaY
After his comments – which may have been the result of one too many post-round libations – he immediately realized he needed damage control. But it was too late. The sponsorships were gone, the racist label was attached and Tiger froze him out for weeks. He and others tried to explain it away by suggesting that Fuzzy was a jokester and it was all said in jest. Anyone watching the mean-spirited video now or at the time can easily identify a man who just witnessed the (non-white) future of golf and realized he was “the past”.
Back to the SubPar interview. It was ostensibly an opportunity for Fuzzy to promote his namesake Vodka. He opened the interview by making a derogatory remark about “Democrats” – so now we immediately understand a big part of who this guy is. Fuzzy went on to discuss his retirement and that due to arthritis in his hands, doesn’t play golf at all anymore. In fact, he does almost nothing now that he is at the cusp of 70. He does still attend the Champions Dinner at the Masters every year. I’m sure he makes a point to yuk it up with the “little boy” and may even order the fried chicken or collard greens or whatever else “they” serve.
He spoke of his latest medical appointment and that his doctor advised him to start working out a bit. Fuzzy’s response – “it ain’t happening”! When his Doctor also suggested he might want to walk for 15 to 20 minutes a day, Fuzzy repeated the same phrase. Zoeller then brought up some person who drank and smoked and eschewed physical activity and lived to 105. Yeah Fuzzy, that regimen has always been the hallmark of good health and longevity. It bothers me when people who may be considered influential, espouse ridiculous advice or promote a sedentary life lubricated with vodka. To anyone who listened to that podcast, please do not be like Fuzzy – do what your doctor suggests, keep active, and do strengthening exercises a few times a week. You can still have a few shots of his crappy vodka from time to time.