Sam Snead: ‘No Man Scared Me on the Golf Course’

IT SEEMS ONLY RIGHT to mention Samuel Jackson Snead during the inaugural Greenbrier Classic because The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, was Snead’s golfing playground. I half expected Sam to return to Earth to fill out the 156-man field after Steve Marino’s last-minute withdrawal on Thursday with back spasms.

There will never be another year in golf like 1912. That was the year Snead was born. And Byron Nelson. And Ben Hogan. Three of the greatest ever came along in the span of six months and between them won 197 times on the PGA Tour. Snead was the most productive winner but won two fewer majors than Hogan. Sam’s greatest disappointment in golf was never winning the U.S. Open. He came in second on four occasions.

Sam Snead: ‘No Man Scared Me on the Golf Course’ 1The following Snead comments are from his 2002 My Shot feature in Golf Digest:

People always said I had a natural swing. They thought I wasn’t a hard worker. But when I was young, I’d play and practice all day, then practice more at night by my car’s headlights.

Could I have whipped Tiger Woods? Hell, yes. In my prime I could do anything with a golf ball I wanted. No man scared me on the golf course.

I detest the fact that I endorsed cigarettes years ago; I didn’t even smoke. Lucky Strikes, Viceroys, Chesterfields, Granger Pipe tobacco—I endorsed them all. At The Greenbrier they had those ads on the walls as decoration. I made them take them all down.

I have a reputation for being tight with money, and I guess it’s accurate. But I can’t help it. The biggest Christmas I had as a kid was when I found 15 cents and a pair of socks under my breakfast plate. Poverty will make you respect money.

When Ben Hogan died, I said it felt like I’d lost a brother. Some people didn’t understand that, because Ben and I never socialized and rarely talked. But we were like brothers, because we both made the other guy better.

Snead’s longevity was legendary. Sam won his first of 82 PGA Tour events in 1937 and his last in 1965. He was also pretty efficient on his home turf, winning the West Virginia Open 17 times, his first in 1936 and 17th in 1973, a span of 37 years. Wow.

Sam Snead at The Greenbrier: A historical photo gallery

−The Armchair Golfer

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

1 thought on “Sam Snead: ‘No Man Scared Me on the Golf Course’”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.