|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 23, 2007
JILL FADER: Good afternoon. Thank you, everybody, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be with us today.
I would like to introduce Jack Peter, the chief operating officer for the World Golf Hall of Fame who is sitting here with me in St. Augustine, and then Hubert Green, one of the 2007 inductees, is also on the line with us.
Before I ask Hubert to speak, I wanted to just go over a couple of quick basic information about the induction ceremony. It is taking place on Monday, November 12 at 6:00 PM at the Hall of Fame. There are six members of the 2007 class: The late Irish amateur Joe Carr was selected in the veteran's category; Charles Blair Macdonald, who also will be inducted posthumously as a Lifetime Achievement selection; Kel Nagle, the Australian who won the 1960 Open Championship, was also a Lifetime Achievement selection. Then Se Ri Pak, winner of 24 LPGA tournaments including five majors. Se Ri is coming into the Hall of Fame through the LPGA point system. And Curtis Strange who will be available for a teleconference at 3:30 today. He was elected on the PGA TOUR ballot, and last but certainly not least, Hubert Green who is on the call with us, most of you know is the winner of 19 PGA TOUR titles, including two majors.
Just as a quick introduction of why we're here today which is a wonderful reason, Hubert, I know you found out in April that you had been selected to the veteran's category, and I know we've had a lot of communication with you over the months. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about how you're looking forward to next month and the induction ceremony and how this last year has been?
HUBERT GREEN: Yes, it's an honor to receive in any sport an induction to the Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor and it caps off a career that I've enjoyed playing and competing. And as we get older, we tend to cut back, cut back my schedule quite a bit. Life goes on, the youngsters are out there now. The younger players are out there on the regular tour, and there comes a time when you have to give it up and I'm not ready to do that, but I still enjoy the competition. And this Hall of Fame is just a tremendous capping off to a career of a lifetime.
Q. Wondering if in your exhibit, if there is a kid who never got a chance to see you play that comes in there five or ten years from now, from what is in there about you, what impression would you like that kid to get about you as a golfer and as a person?
HUBERT GREEN: I think that's a -- I don't know if that's a great question of me or not. Ask that one to Curtis; don't give it to me.
I don't know, I know in my trophy case will be the first trophy I won. I won that when I was nine years old in the Future Masters. It was runner-up for the B Division but the first real trophy I won in Birmingham to Lee Harper, he hit a 3-wood on the next to last hole for a birdie on a par 5. Eight or nine years old, we don't hit the ball that far. I remember making that shot and I turned to my father and I started crying; I didn't believe this could happen to me, to lose by one.
But the drive home, that trophy sat in my lap and I still remember it like it was yesterday. And it was -- that trophy was the biggest trophy in the world. It was just humongous. Look at it now as you play golf over and over again, you see bigger trophies you've won, but this trophy was -- I don't know how to answer your question.
Q. But what would you like people to remember you as, would it be your work ethic, the two majors, your longevity on the PGA TOUR and the fact that you had some success on the Champions Tour, any of that, do you hope they remember more than other stuff?
HUBERT GREEN: Well, the most important thing in life, and it won't be in an exhibition there, but be proud of what you've done. My father always said: "If you dig a hole, dig a good hole. Dig a hole you can be proud of," and that's the way I was taught growing up. No matter what you do in life, be proud of what you've done and look back and say, I did this and that's the best I could have done.
Q. You said there comes a time when you've got to give it up, are you about to do that; is there a date looming here that I'm not aware of?
HUBERT GREEN: I'm not going to play full-time. I haven't for the last couple of years. I'll play some for fun. If I'm going to live in Birmingham -- I'd rather be in Naples than Birmingham, I don't like cold weather that much. But I'm not going to play the Tour full-time. It doesn't make sense.
Q. Your fellow peers talk about you as being such a tough competitor, a great battler, a great fighter out there. Where do you think you hold that from?
HUBERT GREEN: Probably like my father said, whatever you do in life, be proud of what you've done. I never cared about finishing second. Second place is first loser in my mind. Second place -- try to remember who finished second at Augusta, in '78, most folks don't remember. It was Tom Watson, Red Funseth and myself and no one ever remembers Red Funseth finishing second that year.
Just if you don't win, you've lost.
Q. I don't have a thinking question for you; I have a remembering question. Just want to remember what you recall about the '85 PGA. I think in the last press conference when you were announced, we talked about the U.S. Open quite a bit. Can you talk about what you remember about that week and winning the PGA?
HUBERT GREEN: Well, it was a great win for me, mostly because I was supposed to be over the hill and not playing anymore, and battling Lee Trevino head-to-head there was a lot of fun. Anyone who has played good golf enjoys the competition, and I love the competition. I love the hunt. Whether you win or not, it's not as important as the hunt itself. I don't want to say that winning is important -- the hunt is where the thrill is. That's where the real thrill of anything is, and to go with Lee eye-to-eye and see who would blink first; it's a great thrill and luckily he blinked when he did because i was ready to blink myself.
Q. Any specific shots that stand out from that week or any holes at the finish there that you recall more vividly?
HUBERT GREEN: I chipped in once each day. The greens, they were soft in the front and hard in the back and very hard to get the ball close to the hole, and I chipped extremely well that week.
On the ninth hole when Lee hit it off the post, foot and a half from the hole, I had to hit NEXT and I hit the ball inside right next to him. I turned to him and I went, man, got to him on the next hole on that one. He was starting to get away and I sort of slowed him down a little bit. It's always fun to beat the Mex.
Q. Since the announcement in May, have you received any phone calls or heard from anybody that you haven't in a long time, or anything interesting that's happened to you?
HUBERT GREEN: Well, my old caddie, Shayne Grier called me up. I haven't gotten back to him. Tried him a couple of times and kept missing him.
I've seen other people in a long time, my old golf coach, I saw him at Bobby Duval's birthday party last year, people like that; guys on my golf team that I've communicated with recently are going to show up for the awards and that will be fun. It's very nice.
Q. Also wanted to ask you what you consider to be your best year on TOUR, the two majors you won, I think those were the only PGA TOUR events you won that year. He yet you had a couple other seasons where you won three or four times. What do you consider your best year?
HUBERT GREEN: Well, in '75, that was against Johnny Miller who shut me out pretty good, but I was very proud of that year. And two of those summers I won head-to-head with Johnny -- '76, won three, that was a great thrill. I really don't have one more than the other, but those were very, very good years.
Q. '75 and '76?
HUBERT GREEN: Sure.
Q. Also beyond the trophy from your Future Masters, did the Hall of Fame ask you to give any personal memorabilia?
HUBERT GREEN: Oh, yeah, I got a bunch of stuff.
Q. What's the most unique thing you've given them?
HUBERT GREEN: Well --
JILL FADER: Probably the most interesting-looking is that samurai.
HUBERT GREEN: When I played in the Dunlop Phoenix for the 12th year in about 1985, '86, they gave me a samurai warrior's headdress, same as President Reagan got from the Japanese in the same year. It's a samurai warrior's headdress that's sort of like a coat-of-arms, and it's very unique. It has a lot of gold on it, gold-leaf painted. It's a very unique. You'll see it in the display and it will surprise you.
Q. You mentioned, you know, the drive you got as a competitor was a lot from your father. Do you recall, you seem to recall very vividly the Future Masters and the trophy and all. Do you remember, you said you turned to your father and were crying about it and upset about it; do you remember anything that your father might have told you at that moment about what you can learn from finishing second?
HUBERT GREEN: No, not at all. I might not even have turned to him. He probably was out in the gallery area and probably wasn't that close to me. I don't remember exactly. I just remember crying. It was like, "My gosh, that can't happen to me." Lost my shot. He was probably 104 yards from the green. I don't know how far, 90 yards, hit 3-wood. It was a long ways.
Q. You also said finishing second is a first-place loser, I believe was your words, the runner-up trophy you get for finishing in the Future Masters and things like that, does any of that mean anything to you, or do you view that as having lost rather than, you know, finishing as well as you did?
HUBERT GREEN: I should have won there. I 3-putted 16 and missed it. 3- or 4-putted on 18. That's how I lost that tournament and that was just a total choke. I just gave it away. What happened on 16, the player just birdied 18 and being the pig that I am, I was trying to make the putt from behind the hole, 23 feet downhill I was trying to make it and lag it down there and I blew it too far by the hole and missed the lag putt coming back. I knew I was trying to putt, play to win and I blew it there. But life goes on.
Q. Who will be making the introduction for you the night of the induction ceremony, and how is your speech going?
HUBERT GREEN: Just finished my speech this weekend. Curtis called me yesterday afternoon and wanted to know how I was doing. I think he's pretty well got his finished up also.
A guy named -- you probably don't know the guy, Frank Urban Zoeller; he's going to be making my introduction.
Q. Does he know he has a time limit?
HUBERT GREEN: It's not my job to do that.
Q. Can you remember, what was it like in your Florida State days, you had a couple of teammates that everybody in Jacksonville area knows, the Philos and Bobby Duval, and didn't you actually have a basketball coach as your golf coach in Hugh Durham?
HUBERT GREEN: Exactly light, Hugh Durham will be there at the Hall of Fame. I think he's up there at Jackson University.
Coach Durham, I can't say enough good about him. If anybody could sell saltwater into the Pacific Ocean, it would be Hugh Durham. He knew nothing about golf when he had the golf coaching job, and back then, it wasn't that much of a coaching job, but just a standing-up thing. But very, very quality man right there.
Q. Did Hugh know more about personalities and how to coach kids and really didn't matter what the sport was?
HUBERT GREEN: There's part of it. We had a nine-hole course in Florida State, and you know, you play the same course twice and one day you sort of get bored and you're maybe ten yards apart and that was it.
So for qualifying, he would make even holes left in the rough be out-of-bounds and on the odd holes would be right out-of-bounds. In the rough you get out on a par 5 and you miss the green three feet left, you're out-of-bounds, makes you think on your second shot back there, maybe lay it up or what you do. And we didn't like it at the time, we sort of thought this was supervised but looking back at it was very smart. It made the golf course different for us. He made us hit irons off certain tees, certain times to qualify. It then made the holes play differently instead of hitting driver, wedge or driver, 8-iron, all of a sudden it was a driver, 4-iron.
So he didn't know a lot about golf but he knew enough about coaching to make it interesting for us and make us work for it. He was a very quality individual.
Q. And one more question about those days, you and a lot of other pros rallied around Bobby Duval when his oldest son died in 1981, and Bobby has been a close friend. Can you talk about the relationship you've had over the years with Bobby?
HUBERT GREEN: Bobby, we were on the same team, and it was tragic when his son died. Been in close contact off and on through the years, and he was out here on TOUR with us for a while. Just think the world of him and his son, David. David is a quality guy and a good player. Maybe he should have come to Florida State with us.
Q. I took out an old media guide --
HUBERT GREEN: Uh-oh.
Q. Pretty scary.
HUBERT GREEN: Black-and-white or color?
Q. Black-and-white, 1984 media guide here. I saw you were Rookie of the Year your first year out, which was '71. Did you ever think in 1970 that you would still be playing golf in 2007?
HUBERT GREEN: Not really. I was just worried about the next year when I first got started. You're just going from week-to-week and day-to-day you're not thinking about ten years from now or whatever. You're trying to survive and keep going.
When the Champions Tour even came out, I sort of taught, my gosh, this is a joke, this can't make it. No way that these old guys are going to do any good and for a while the Champions Tour, almost took over the regular tour.
Q. It also mentions that you worked during the summer after you turned profession all at Merion in Ardmore. Do you remember anything about that?
HUBERT GREEN: I never had a job.
Q. That's what it says here.
HUBERT GREEN: Ruin my reputation. My kids think I never had a job in my life.
Q. Well, it says that in here. Do you remember anything about being at Ardmore?
HUBERT GREEN: Oh, yeah, Gil Killian (ph) was the head pro there and Phil Stature (ph) assistant pro. I can't remember the other guy's name.
Q. We're old. We can forget names.
HUBERT GREEN: Yeah, but you're going to write it, I want to get the name right -- John Lafferty (ph). I was fourth-string pro and I got the worst of the lessons when there were not lessons to give out. And I remember I had a couple, they had golf lessons at 8:30 on Wednesday, husband and wife, and they have golf lessons and they have yachting lessons and they had their whole deal they did all day long and I was their golf professional. They could go back to the bridge club and be, "Oh, I was with my golf pro this week and we did this, and then yachting," whatever, yachting I guess. But I loved it. It was a good experience for me and it taught me something I did not want to do, which was get a real job.
Q. Did you know enough about the game of golf and techniques and whatnot to be able to feel like you could be a good teacher for them? Some people are better at teaching than others, and I know you've always managed your own game very well.
HUBERT GREEN: Teaching takes patience. I knew I couldn't survive doing this for long. Back then, you didn't get paid an awful lot and you needed something else to supplement your lifestyle a little bit.
Q. You would not have been an assistant any place else except that one time; is that correct?
HUBERT GREEN: That's the only job I ever had more or less.
Q. Can you share with us your experience and tell us a little bit about your first PGA TOUR event and how you did and where that happened?
HUBERT GREEN: Well, the first event was at Sea Pines at Hilton Head. There was an Invitational there so it only had like ten spots and I didn't qualify so we played in the satellite event, which was at the Sea Pines, I guess, Country Club, which is right about a mile from Harbour Town and we teed off on Wednesday so we could finish up Saturday to get down an extra qualifier.
And it was so cold that Wednesday morning, I teed off at 8, I guess, 24, it started at 8:00, the ground was so cold, they cancelled Pro-Am at Harbour Town because the ground was frozen.
And on my 11th hole, my second hole which was 11, I hit a 9-iron and the ball bounced over the pin because the green was frozen. And I walked to this bunker and the sand was frozen, and I thought, man, this PGA TOUR is pretty dog-gone tough; they play on frozen greens and frozen sand traps. I was like, I don't think I'm ready for this. And I shot 65 that day and warmed up the temperature and 75 the next day, but that was my first event.
The next week was at Coral Springs, Florida that Bill Garrett won, and I missed the cut there. Then I qualified for the Bahamas tournament and I made 13 straight cuts and ended up winning a few weeks later.
Q. Sorry, there was static on the line talking about your runner-up in the Future Masters when you were age nine and I didn't get to hear the year.
HUBERT GREEN: It was a B Division. It wasn't runner-up. It was B Division, so it wasn't like I won the big deal. I would be nine, so probably be 1955.
Q. And this was in Birmingham?
HUBERT GREEN: No, at Dothan, Alabama, one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, in Dothan, Alabama. I could be wrong on the record there but that's pretty -- don't check my lines out too closely if you don't mind.
Q. I wanted to ask you about your most recent victory, the 7-hole playoff with Hale Irwin at the Lightpath Long Island Classic and what are your memories of that.
HUBERT GREEN: Good memories. It was a long day. And I'm diabetic and I was getting a little weak there at the end because we kept going around and around. I felt like, going around in circles, around in circles, around in circles and couldn't get the game finished.
But I know I made a putt to win, I had about a 35-footer downhill it was a fast putt and I hit it too hard. And I was saying, "Oh, gosh darn, gosh darn," or something along that line; you could approximate your own words there, and hit the back of the hole and went in. And Hale looked at me like, you son of a gun. He had missed the green but I was outside of him. But I felt like he was liable to chip-in, because Hale is notorious for being pretty gritty, but he missed his chip and it was over with.
But the funniest thing was, his caddie then was my old caddie. And it was tough on him because I know he wanted me to win, but of course he wanted Hale to win, too. It was fun watching him and very interesting watching him work with Hale.
Q. And I remember you came back the next year as the defending champion and you had a very upbeat news conference, and the next day you were announcing you had surgery but you didn't let on. How were you able to do that? How were you able to be so upbeat that day when you came back at as the defending champion?
HUBERT GREEN: I didn't have surgery. I had chemotherapy and radiation. I didn't have to have surgery. It's hang or don't. We weren't there to talk about me and cancer. We was there to talk about the Lightpath golf tournament. It wasn't about myself at the time; it wasn't important. It wasn't going to change anything. We were there to announce the event coming up.
Q. I was wondering if in this day and age on the PGA TOUR all of these guys come out with classic swings out of college, and in your generation it was different. All of the great players had unique swings, including you and Arnie and Jack and Johnny Miller. Wondering how your swing evolved, and if your dad was involved in teaching the game at all and how that all came about.
HUBERT GREEN: Well, I'm probably one of the only pros that the golf teachers pay to not use their name. (Laughing) I get a check from Butch Harmon once a month not to use his name; because my swing is so bad, they don't want anyone else to think they taught me how to play the game.
I'm definitely self-taught. John Gusson (ph) was my teacher at Birmingham growing up, but he didn't teach me where to put the golf club in my hands up at the top. He just taught me about using your legs and this, that and the other. I mostly just taught myself. My father, no, he didn't teach me how to play golf.
Q. Your golf flight is beautiful and your swing is beautiful; isn't that right? Isn't that how it works?
HUBERT GREEN: You would be the minority of saying that out lied. I wouldn't say it too much. They may accuse you of being -- put you on the tennis circuit next year.
Q. Johnny Miller did the same thing. Johnny's line was, I just said it, "If the ball is going the right spot then your swing is good, it doesn't matter how you do it." It's been proven many times.
HUBERT GREEN: I appreciate what you're saying, but in '78, Hogan came to Augusta to get an award and they asked him who he thought had a good chance that year and he said Hubert Green. And they said, the press said, why.
He says, "Because he has a good golf swing."
Well, the press came to me like a bunch of locusts and said, "Hubert, what did you do to your golf swing? You must have changed it because Hogan says you have a good golf swing."
I've never been considered a good golf swing according to some people, but it's done sufficiently enough. Jim Furyk has a similar type of action, and that's had pretty good success, also.
Q. Seem to recall when you hit a lot of iron shots close and you were also kind of -- I also remember you making a lot of putts, too.
HUBERT GREEN: I'm not sure how good of a putter I was. I was a good chipper and I had my total number of putts during a tournament would be not many because I missed a lot of greens because I was -- I went for a lot of pins. And like Lanny, we were never one would lay up much. I always fired at the pin because I knew I could chip close.
So it didn't bother me about missing the green like some other players would like and I did chip good. So my putts, it wasn't a great number. So quite often the press were walking around and they would just say, ask me my putts per round and my putts would be, 26, 27. I got a name as being a good putter. I was a good short putter, but I really didn't make that many long putts I think but I made enough. I'm going to the Hall of Fame, so can't keep me out now.
Q. Did you ever ask Hogan about that comment he made to the press? Did you ever talk to him about this?
HUBERT GREEN: I never new Hogan well enough to ask him. But I was very appreciative. It was a great feeling to me and also Jim Murray wrote a nice article about me after I won the U.S. Open, which was very warming to me.
Q. Most of us on the call would consider the '77 Open at Southern Hills your biggest golf triumph. Curious, was there one earlier in your career that was pretty pivotal in getting you off and running?
HUBERT GREEN: Not really. I think that was my 12th or 13th win when I won the Open, and Mr. Murray was very nice in the article, saying, it was about time that I won a major if I was going to become another echelon-type player.
But I never really look back at what I've done in the past, and I didn't think this win was more important than that win. They are all important, and the whole thing is to get them stacked up enough to, I guess, get where I'm getting ready to go in a few weeks.
Q. Earlier in our conversation, you had mentioned that the esteemed Mr. Zoeller is going to be doing your introduction. Can you share with us how that came about and who approached who?
HUBERT GREEN: Well, I mean, I was told by the Hall of Fame people what the format of everything is. And, you know, it's supposed to be someone who knows a lot about you and in the game of golf, I guess Fuzzy knows me pretty well, maybe too well. He also knows a lot about golf. I thought about other people but they didn't know my golf story that well, where Fuzzy does did. I thought it might be a good tie in because he thought he might make it in the Hall of Fame in the future, also.
Q. So you approached Fuzzy to be the one to introduce you then; is that correct?
HUBERT GREEN: Yes.
Q. And how did he feel about that?
HUBERT GREEN: Well, you have to ask him, I don't know.
JILL FADER: Before we let everybody go, Jack Peter, the chief operating officer of the Hall of Fame is here, and he would like to say a couple of things.
JACK PETER: Well, I would just like to take a minute and thank everybody for taking time out of their schedule today, and in particular, Hubert, I want to thank you.
We're looking forward to welcoming you into the Hall of Fame in a few weeks. The weather forecast is looking good. Based on the RSVPs, we are going to have a full house so I encourage all of to you try and make it. And if you cannot, it will be on the GOLF CHANNEL that might at nine o'clock so you have a chance to see it on television if you can't be with us.
Again, I just want to say thank you again, and we're looking forward to it, and have a nice afternoon.
End of FastScripts