The Who2 Blog

Walter Hagen, The Golfer in the Tuxedo

Walter Hagen stands on a rooftop, dressed in a full business suit, swinging a golf club
[Walter] Hagen’s antics helped popularize golf, and if he changed into his tuxedo on the way to the course so his opponents thought he had been out all night carousing or made a grand show of drinking scotch that was actually iced tea in a highball glass, the fans who showed up in droves to see what he would do next were none the wiser.
In his autobiography, Hagen wrote that he had to “create a paying market” and added: “It pleased the public to think I lived the easy, carefree life, the playboy of golf. Frankly, I was happy to support both those illusions since I was making money out of the showmanship.”
The NY Times calls Walter Hagen “a golfer who lived larger and played larger” in a very nice profile on the 100th anniversary of his first U.S. Open win in 1914.
Walter Hagen, circa 1915. Photo: U.S. Library of Congress
This was back in the days when golfers wore neckties and spectators wore straw boaters. And even with his wardrobe, Hagen was considered slightly unclean because he was a professional rather than a swank amateur like Bobby Jones. (In Britain, professionals “were not allowed to enjoy the facilities of the clubhouse and indeed were sometimes prohibited from entering it through the front door.”)
Hagen was also known for his wild drives and sweet recovery shots: “As a player, his form was either superb or terrible.” 

Here he is beating Percy Allis (father of modern golf commentator Peter Allis) one-up in a 1933 match. Drives that went 250 yards! And everyone smoking all the way around.
Hagen earned (and spent) a million dollars in his career, doing it his way all the way. Good for him.

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