One of golf’s more entertaining events, the Ryder Cup, begins on Friday and figures to be a lively and must-see event, once again, for golf and sports fans throughout the world.
But when it comes to entertaining fans on the golf course, it’s hard to find anyone who did it any better than Chi Chi Rodriguez.
The first man from Puerto Rico to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Rodriguez managed to regularly hit drives long and straight, despite his 5-foot-7, 135-pound stature.
From 1963 to 1979, he won eight times on the PGA Tour, was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1973, and 30 years ago, made it to an 18-hole playoff against Jack Nicklaus in the U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit.
Nicklaus won the playoff, but during that tournament and so many others throughout his career, Rodriguez stole the show with his charisma and desire to entertain fans.
When making a long putt, Rodriguez would celebrate by using his putter as a sword, wielding it around and then putting the putter to his side, as if he were putting it away in an imaginary scabbard.
Other times, after making a putt, he would cover the hole with his straw hat to prevent “the birdie” from escaping, according to Morning Read.
Opposing players might not have cared for the antics, but everything was about the fans for Rodriguez.
Now 85, Rodriguez has resided in Florida for the past 30 years, and has established the Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation in Clearwater, which helps at-risk youth by providing golf lessons and help with schoolwork.
He’ll no doubt be watching the Ryder Cup this weekend.
Maybe one of the current players can wield his putter like a sword to pay tribute to Rodriguez as Hispanic Heritage Month continues.