- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2008

It was all an act. Most of it anyway. Although Tommy Bolt won 15 PGA Tour events and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, that’s not why fans remembered him.

Instead he was known for his alleged temper, which earned him such nicknames as “Thunder” Bolt and earned him a spot alongside the likes of John McEnroe and Bobby Knight as the most hotheaded sports figures ever to toss a tantrum.

Talk about being suckered in. Even so renowned a rival as Ben Hogan bought Bolt’s scam, once remarking, “If we could have screwed another head on Tommy, he would have been the greatest who ever played.”

It’s easy to imagine that Bolt, who died at 92 of a liver ailment last month in Batesville, Ark., is still snickering as he tips a glass in that great clubhouse in the sky.

“I think I can hit a golf shot as well as the next man,” he once said. “But do people come out to watch me [do that]? No, they come out for one reason only - they want to see me blow my top.”

So was Bolt really angry or really calculating? Perhaps a bit of both. Consider:

“It thrills people to see a guy suffer,” he once said. “That’s why I threw clubs so often. At first I did it because I was angry. After a while, it became showmanship pure and simple.”

Stories abound of his antics. Once, at the Bing Crosby Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, Calif., he found himself 135 yards from the 16th green and asked his caddie for a 7-iron.

“It’s either a 3-iron or a 3-wood,” the caddie is supposed to have replied. “Those are the only clubs you have left.”

Bolt told that story on himself when he was induced into the World Golf shrine in 2002, then added: “I couldn’t possibly have broken as many clubs as I was supposed to have broken. They haven’t made that many.”

Anything for a laugh, right?

Tommy had technique, too, when it came to hurling irons and woods.

“I learned if you helicoptered those dudes by throwing them sideways instead of overhand, the shaft wouldn’t break as easy,” he insisted. “It’s an art, it really is.”

According to legend, Bolt advised the young Arnold Palmer to “throw them clubs ahead of you instead of behind. That way you won’t gave to waste energy going back to pick them up.”

Yuk, yuk.

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