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Celebrity Golfer:

Fuzzy Zoeller by Leigh MacKay Fuzzy. That’s all a golf fan needs to hear. That nickname of Frank Urban Zoeller, Jr. identifies one of professional golf’s most memorable characters. Fuzzy joined the PGA TOUR in 1975 after playing golf at the University of Houston with Bill Rogers and Bruce Lietzke. He brought with him a fluid, powerful swing and a deft putting stroke. He also brought something more important to all of us outside the ropes: he showed us how to enjoy the game. Fuzzy would whistle his way down the fairways and around the greens—sunglasses hanging loosely around his neck—and display his unique, happy-go-lucky attitude. He also fashioned an enduring rapport with the galleries by having fun at his work and by winning their unreserved approval. Fuzzy had 10 wins on TOUR. His first one in 1979 at the Andy Williams-San Diego Open set the stage for his first Masters and his scene-stealing, two-hole playoff victory against Tom Watson. Five years later Fuzzy won his second Major in the US Open at Winged Foot in an 18-hole playoff with Greg Norman, 67-75. Fuzzy helped make the Skins Game a Thanksgiving weekend TV staple by winning it back to back in 1985-86. He won two events on the Champions Tour, including the 2002 Senior PGA. During his time on the big TOUR, Fuzzy was plagued with chronic back problems that required surgery, and he has limited his play on the Champions Tour this year to five or six events because the arthritis in his hands makes it difficult for him “to grip that old club properly anymore.” But Fuzzy, now 64, keeps himself busy with his two favorite pastimes, hunting and fishing, and he has become an entrepreneur with his own liquor brand, “Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka.” He also likes to design golf courses and has 19 to his credit.

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Photo courtesy of the USGA In 1985, the USGA bestowed its highest honor upon Fuzzy, the Bob Jones Award “in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship.” In 2015, Fuzzy received the Champions Tour Bruno Award for his “special and outstanding contributions” to the game and for “socializing with both sponsors and fans to create a unique experience.” An Indiana native through and through, Fuzzy lives with his wife Diane in Floyds Knobs and has four grown-up children, Sunny, Heidi, Gretchen, and Miles.

NEGM: How did your charismatic personality evolve?

FZ: First, you’ve got to look at my gene pool, at my mother and dad. I was always blessed to have their support, and they taught me the right way to play golf—to enjoy it through the good times and the bad and to realize it was only a game. I think a lot of people and pros lose track of that fact. My attitude all along has been to have fun on the golf course, and I certainly take pleasure in entertaining the people who come out to watch us play. Golf is the greatest game ever, but it is still a game.

August 2016  
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