Golf Talk Live - Bruce Lietzke Transcript Segment 1

RSS

IT'S NOT EASY TO BE A LEGEND IN YOUR SPARE TIME. BUT BRUCE LIETZKE PERFECTED THE ART OF SEMI-RETIREMENT AT A VERY EARLY AGE. FIND OUT HOW IT'S DONE ON GOLF TALK LIVE.

(GTL INTRO/MUSIC STARTS)

THE FOLLOWING IS AN ENCORE PRESENTATION OF GOLF TALK LIVE.

SO MANY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE FIND OUT WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT AT A TIME IN THEIR LIVES WHEN IT'S TOO LATE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. BY THE TIME PERSPECTIVE TAKES HOLD,

THEIR CHILDREN HAVE BECOME ADULTS WITH CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN, AND LOST SUMMERS AND ABBREVIATED HOLIDAYS ARE GONE FOREVER.

13-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION, BOBBY JONES ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY. AND 20-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION, JACK NICKLAUS,

NEVER SPENT MORE THAN 2 WEEKS AWAY FROM HOME EVEN AT THE PINNACLE OF HIS GREATNESS WHEN HE CHASED AND LATER BESTED THE RECORDS OF THE LATE GREAT MR. JONES.

BRUCE LIETZKE WAS BORN TO BE RETIRED. AND HE NEVER MADE A MAJOR FUSS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF NEEDING MAJORS ON HIS RESUME.

BRUCE SOMEHOW GRASPED THE SENSIBLE CONCEPT AT AN EARLY AGE THAT HAPPINESS CAN BE FOUND AT HOME, THAT IT'S NOT NECESSARY TO LIVE FOR YOUR WORK WHEN YOU CAN WORK JUST ENOUGH TO LIVE THE LIFE THAT BRINGS YOU THE GREATEST JOY.

HE WON 13 TIMES ON TOUR SINCE 1977 AND ALWAYS MADE THE MOST OF HIS LIMITED APPEARANCES BY RARELY MISSING CUTS, PARTLY BECAUSE HE NEVER TINKERED WITH HIS SWING THAT DIDN'T REQUIRE TINKERING.

AND ANY FELLOW THAT LISTS SERIOUS FISHING AS HIS SPECIAL INTEREST IS SERIOUSLY INTERESTED IN CONTINUING TO PERFECT THE ART OF NOT LOOKING BUSY, BECAUSE HE'S NOT.

WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. OUR GUEST TONIGHT BECAME FAMOUS ON TOUR OVER A 25 YEAR PERIOD BY MAKING A SERIES OF CAMEO APPEARANCES. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BRUCE LIETZKE. GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE.

BRUCE LIETZKE
THANK YOU, PETER. NICE TO BE HERE.

PETER KESSLER
IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU WITH US. YOU KNOW, JAIME DIAZ, THE AWARD WINNING JOURNALIST, ONCE WROTE ABOUT YOU AND THE FACT THAT YOU APPEARED INFREQUENTLY AND MADE THE MOST OF THOSE APPEARANCES THAT ...

FEW HAVE EVER DONE LESS WITH MORE. HOW DO YOU REACT TO THAT?

BRUCE LIETZKE
FEW HAVE DONE LESS WITH MORE ... UH, I DON'T KNOW. I - I ...

I SUPPOSE, UH, YOU LET PEOPLE HAVE THEIR OWN OPINIONS AND YOU STILL LIVE BY YOUR OWN CREED. AND I'VE BEEN CRITICIZED, GOOD AND BAD, FOR UH THE THINGS I'VE DONE AND, AND I'VE ALWAYS JUST DECIDED TO FALL BACK ON WHAT I BELIEVE.

AND UH, AND I'VE NEVER HAD ANY REGRETS ABOUT THAT. SO I THINK I'VE DONE THE RIGHT THING UH, DESPITE THE ... THE REMINDERS THAT I COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING ELSE. UH, I'VE ALWAYS FELT COMFORTABLE IN THE DECISIONS I'VE MADE.

AND FOR THE MOST PART, MOST OF THOSE DECISIONS WERE THE RIGHT ONES.

PETER KESSLER
IS IT REALLY TRUE THAT YOU NEVER WANTED TO BE THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD?

BRUCE LIETZKE
I CAN'T REMEMBER EVER THINKING THAT ... THAT THAT WAS MY GOAL. I DON'T REMEMBER THAT EVER BEING IN MY HEAD. I THINK THERE ARE TIMES THAT I WANTED TO BE THE BEST PLAYER IN THE FIELD THAT WEEK IN THE TIMES THAT I HAVE WON. UH, I HAVE - I'VE HAD THAT FEELING.

UH, BUT TO JUMP A LITTLE HIGHER THAN THAT AND TO EITHER STAY AT THAT TOP OR UH, OR JUST GAIN SOME SATISFACTION FROM BEING THE BEST PLAYER THAT WEEK, UH, SEEMED TO BE ENOUGH.

AND I JUST DON'T REMEMBER THE THOUGHT OF EVER BEING THE BEST IN THE WORLD FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME. UH, I JUST LET ONE WEEK AT A TIME, UH, SATISFY ME.

PETER KESSLER
I MEAN, EVERY LITTLE BOY WHO LEARNS TO PLAY GOLF, WHETHER OR NOT THEY'RE GONNA BE A 20-HANDICAPPER OR ONE OF THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD, AT SOME POINT WHEN THEY'RE 8 OR 9 YEARS OLD,

STANDS OVER 5-FOOTERS ALONE ON THE PRACTICE GREEN AND SAYS, 'THIS IS FOR THE U.S. OPEN'. AND SOME OF US IMAGINE THAT YOU MUST HAVE STOOD OVER THOSE 5-FOOTERS AS A 9 YEAR OLD AND SAID, 'IF I MAKE THIS, I'LL MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO RETIRE.'

BRUCE LIETZKE
NO, I'LL TELLYOU EXACTLY WHAT MY THOUGHTS WERE. INSTEAD OF ALWAYS THINKING OF A U.S. OPEN OR A MASTERS, I USED TO READ THE SPORTS PAGE PRETTY MUCH EVERY MORNING, UH, OR EARLY IN THE WEEK AND I WOULD FIND OUT ...

I CAME HOME AT THE AGE OF 8 AND WANT - AND TOLD MY MOTHER I WANTED TO PLAY THE PGA TOUR. I WANTED TO PLAY WITH GARY PLAYER AND SAM SNEAD. SO THAT'LL TELL YOU HOW BACK - HOW FAR BACK IT GOES.

UH, BUT WHAT UH ... UH, WHAT I DO REMEMBER IS PICKING UP NEWSPAPERS AND FINDING OUT THAT THE TOUR THAT WEEK WAS IN CLEVELAND OR THE TOUR THAT WEEK WAS IN PORTLAND. AND WHEN I WENT TO THE GOLF COURSE THAT AFTERNOON, I WAS PUTTING TO WIN THE CLEVELAND TOURNAMENT.

AND NEXT WEEK, I WAS WINNING TO WIN - UH, PUTTING TO WIN THE, OR HITTING A SHOT OR CHIPPING ... UH, AND THE WEEKS THAT THE U.S. OPEN WAS BEING PLAYED, THAT'S WHAT I WAS TRYING TO WIN.

UH, BUT IT WAS NEVER ALWAYS THE OPEN. IT WAS NEVER ALWAYS THE MASTERS. IT WAS WHATEVER WEEKLY TOURNAMENT WAS GOING ON. LATER WHEN I GOT INTERESTED IN - IN CERTAIN PLAYERS ON THE TOUR, NICKLAUS BECAME MY IDOL,

I WOULD FIND OUT WHERE - WHAT TOURNAMENTS NICKLAUS WAS PLAYING IN AND I SEEMED TO PUT SOME EXTRA EMPHASIS ON THAT. JACK'S PLAYING THIS WEEK.

I WAS PULLING FOR HIM, BUT WHEN I WAS OUT PRACTICING THAT AFTERNOON, I WAS TRYING TO BEAT, UH, BEAT HIM IN, AGAIN, PORTLAND, CLEVELAND, WHEREVER JACK WAS PLAYING.

PETER KESSLER
NOW THERE'S NO WAY PROBABLY FOR YOU TO HAVE KNOWN AT THAT TIME THAT JACK PLAYED THE KIND OF SCHEDULE - 16, 19 TIMES A YEAR - THAT LATER YOU WOULD ADOPT AS YOUR OWN.

WHEN HE WAS YOUR IDOL, HE WAS YOUR IDOL FOR HIS GOLF, I ASSUME, NOT FOR HIS BALANCED APPROACH TO LIFE WHICH YOU MUST HAVE FOUND OUT ABOUT LATER.

BRUCE LIETZKE
HE BECAME MY IDOL WHEN HE AND ARNIE SHOWED UP AT AN EXHIBITION AT UH PRAIRIE DUNES IN HUTCHINSON, KANSAS, IN 1962. I BELIEVE IT WAS THE MONDAY AFTER JACK WINS THE U.S. OPEN,.

UH, AND HE WAS PLAYING AN EXHIBITION WITH A COUPLE OF CLUB PROS, UH, FROM THE WICHITA, KANSAS, AREA AND THAT'S WERE I LIVED. IT WAS IN WICHITA, KANSAS.

UH, WE WENT AND WATCHED THEM PLAY. AT THE END OF THE ROUND, UH, ARNIE ... UH, THIS HAD TO HAVE BEEN A FREAK OF NATURE ... ARNIE KIND OF MADE A BEELINE FOR THE LOCKER ROOM AND SIGNED AUTOGRAPHS AS HE WAS WALKING,

BUT PRETTY MUCH MADE A LINE FOR THE, UH, LOCKER ROOM AND GOT INTO THE LOCKER ROOM. AND I WAS PRETTY NAVE AT THE TIME. I WAS 10 OR 11. UH, '62, I WAS 11 YEARS OLD. AND I JUST DIDN'T KNOW THE, UH, PROCEDURE AND I DIDN'T GET HIS AUTOGRAPH.

I TURNED AROUND AND THERE WAS NICKLAUS STANDING ON THE 18TH GREEN, AND HE HAD A GROUP OF KIDS AND ADULTS AROUND HIM. AND I GOT HIS AUTOGRAPH EVENTUALLY. AND HE BECAME MY IDOL THAT DAY.

AND BOY WHAT HAS NEVER BEEN LOST ON ME IS THE POWER OF THAT ... THAT CHILD THAT WANTS AN AUTOGRAPH. AND I'VE TRIED TO, UH, ACCOMMODATE EVERY CHILD UH THAT I CAN. AND I'VE PROBABLY TURNED AWAY A FEW, UH, THAT I DON'T KNOW ABOUT.

BUT THAT, THAT'S THE DAY THAT NICKLAUS BECAME MY IDOL, UH, 11 YEARS OLD, BECAUSE HE SIGNED MY AUTOGRAPH. I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHO HE WAS. I HAD HEARD HE HAD WON THE U.S. OPEN.

HE WASN'T AS BIG AS ARNOLD PALMER. UH, BUT HE SIGNED MY AUTOGRAPH AND HE WAS MY IDOL THAT DAY.

PETER KESSLER
BEN CRENSHAW AND YOU ARE ABOUT 6 MONTHS APART IN AGE. YOU GREW UP IN THE SAME PART OF TEXAS. YOU WERE FRIENDLY. YOU COMPETED AGAINST EACH OTHER. BUT UNLIKE YOU, HE WANTED TO BE THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

DID THAT EVER CONFUSE YOU OR SET YOU BACK OR MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT IN SOME WAYS?

BRUCE LIETZKE
UH, NO, BECAUSE I DON'T THINK WE EVER SHARED THAT. UH, WE WERE CLOSE FRIENDS IN A LOT OF WAYS, COMPETITORS FOR THE MOST PART. HE LIVED IN AUSTIN. I LIVED IN BEAUMONT.

HE PLAYED FOR UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS. I PLAYED FOR UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON. SO WE, WE WERE COMPETITORS AT FIRST AND BECAME CLOSE FRIENDS THROUGH THE YEARS, BUT I DON'T THINK WE EVER SHARED THOSE KINDS OF INNER FEELINGS. UH ...

WE HAD A LOT OF THINGS IN COMMON. BUT UH, HE WAS AN - JUST AN OUTSTANDING, UH, JUNIOR PLAYER. AND I WAS A, PRETTY MUCH, RUN-OF-THE-MILL DECENT PLAYER THAT STRUGGLED AGAINST HIM. AND MY,

MY ONLY CLAIM TO FAME IN TEXAS JUNIOR GOLF WAS WINNING THE TEXAS STATE JUNIOR IN 1968, THE ONE YEAR HE DECIDED NOT TO PLAY. SO I'VE - I'VE HAD THAT GHOST FOLLOWING ME AROUND FOR YEARS. UH, SO MY GAME NEVER DID STACK UP TO HIS.

BUT I NEVER DID REALLY - WE NEVER REALLY DID SHARE WHAT OUR DREAMS WERE. BUT UH, BUT WE REMAIN GOOD FRIENDS TILL THIS DAY.

PETER KESSLER
I MEAN, HE WAS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL CHILD PRODIGIES WHO FOUND HIS GAME LARGELY BY FEEL. I KNOW HE WORKED WITH HARVEY PENICK, BUT HE WAS A 'FEEL PLAYER'. AND, OF COURSE, OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, ALL HE THINKS ABOUT IS HIS GOLF SWING,

AND UNHAPPILY SO. 6 MONTHS FROM NOW, HE'S GONNA BE READY FOR THE SENIOR TOUR. IF HE ASKED YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE HIM IN TERMS OF ADVICE?

BRUCE LIETZKE
UH, WORK ON TIMING. THE YEARS OF GOLF THAT I'VE PLAYED WITH HIM, UH, THERE WERE TIMES WHEN I COULD SEE HIM MAKE A HARD SWING, THAT ALL THE PARTS OF HIS MECHANICS WERE WELL TIMED.

10:11
HIS HIPS DIDN'T GET AHEAD OF HIS SHOULDERS. OR HIS SHOULDERS DIDN'T GET AHEAD OF HIS FEET OR, OR WHATEVER. UH, AND THE WEEKS THAT WE PLAYED A LOT OF PRACTICE ROUNDS TOGETHER, WE PLAYED A LOT OF TUESDAY PRACTICE ROUNDS, IF I SAW THAT IN HIS SWING, UH, I - I COULD HAVE GONE TO A BOOKIE, IF I'D KNOWN A BOOKIE,

AND BET MONEY ON HIM. UH, THE WEEKS THAT HE HAD THAT TIMING, UH, 'CAUSE HIS PUTTING WAS THERE DAY IN AND DAY OUT. HE NEEDED THOSE GREENS IN REGULATION TO GET HIS PUTTER GOING. AND UH, AND I WOULD SEE THOSE WEEKS ON TUESDAYS WHEN ...

WHEN HE'D BE ABLE TO HIT THAT HARD DRIVE AND NOT LOSE IT LEFT OR RIGHT. AND THE WEEKS HE HAD THAT SWING WERE THE WEEKS THAT HE WOULD PLAY WELL.

PETER KESSLER
AT THAT, HE'S GOING OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW TO LOOK FOR HIS TIMING.

(BRUCE LAUGHS)

WE'RE GONNA TAKE A LITTLE BREAK. WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK WITH BRUCE LIETZKE.

(BREAK)

NEXT SEGMENT