Golf's Sensational Seniors

By Lyons, Robert S., Jr. | The Saturday Evening Post, May-June 1991 | Go to article overview

Golf's Sensational Seniors


Lyons, Robert S., Jr., The Saturday Evening Post


Lee Trevino was restless. It was a beautiful day at The Vintage Club near Palm Springs, California, but the former PGA and U.S. Open champion wasn't out on the golf course. Instead he was nursing a pulled muscle under his right shoulder blade, "chomping at the bit," and literally aching to begin his second season as a major player in perhaps the most successful professional sports venture of the last decade.

"This is the happiest I've ever been," said Trevino as he explained how his career became rejuvenated last year when he reached his 50th birthday. That made him eligible to join legendary names like Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Gene Littler, and Billy Casper on the Senior Professional Golfers Association Tour, a series of events that, at the rate it's going, could someday eclipse the regular PGA Tour in popularity.

The impact of the Senior Tour has been astounding not only in this country but also in Japan, Great Britain, and South Africa. It began 12 years ago with two tournaments and $250,000 in prize money. By 1984, when 24 tournaments generated more than $5 million in purses, veteran Don January, who was among the organizers of the first Senior Tour, exclaimed, "If you had told me back in 1980 that we'd have this many events and be playing for this much money, I'd have said you were crazy."

This year, playing for the most part in cities where the regular PGA Tour doesn't stop, the seniors are shooting for $24 million in 42 events, 24 of which are slated for national television. Although the regular PGA Tour traditionally has done better in the TV ratings, the Senior Tour is closing the gap. Sunday (final round) ratings in 1990 jumped 35 percent over the previous year. And for the first time in anyone's memory, a Senior event clobbered a regular tour event in head-to-head competition. That happened on the final day of the USGA Senior Open, featuring Jack Nicklaus and Trevino, which had a 5.2 rating compared to a 2.1 rating for a PGA event in Hartford, Connecticut.

"Right now Senior golf is enjoying tremendous popularity because of the nature of the players you see week in and week out," says David Downs, the vice president of programming for ABC, which is televising six events this year. "A large portion of the golf audience still reveres players like Nicklaus, Trevino, Gary Player, Chi Chi Rodriguez, and Arnold Palmer. And in many instances, fans are more familiar with them than they are with their less famous counterparts on the regular tour."

Trevino proved to be a big spark for the Senior Tour's ratings. The Hall of Famer had a spectacular "rookie" season in 1990, winning seven events and finishing second in eight others. Trevino, with some assistance from Nicklaus, helped trigger record-breaking increases estimated at 33 percent for attendance and as high as 35 percent for TV ratings. He earned $1,190,518 for the year, making him the first Senior player to exceed the money winning total of the leader of the more lucrative PGA Tour (Greg Norman won $1,165,477 out of $46 million in purses).

"The names have a lot to do with it," Trevino says. "But I think what's happened in the last couple years is that people needed a measuring stick--like a dipstick for your oil--and they were saying, 'Wait 'til Nicklaus and Trevino get out here. We'll see how good these other guys are.'

"And when I came out and only won seven of 28 tournaments, people now had something to measure those other guys by. They looked at that dipstick and said, 'Hey, wait a minute. We've got some quality players out here still.' And that's one reason that the galleries are out there. . . . The public now has realized that by shortening the golf course by 500 yards, that son-of-a-gun can still play as well as he did 25 years ago."

PGA unknowns like Mike Hill and others who had passed their PGA prime, like Bob Charles and Bruce Crampton, also found new life on the Senior Tour, which features shorter tees and shorter tournaments, usually three 18-hole rounds over three days, one fewer than the regular tour. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Golf's Sensational Seniors
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.