Lee Trevino Talks: Derek Jeter, Vince Lombardi, Lawnmowers, Machetes, and Whatnot

Lee Trevino and Derek Jeter during the 2018 American Family Insurance Championship. Credit: Getty Images/Icon Sportswire

Lee Trevino is considered to be one of the most iconic golfers of all time. He’s also one of its greatest quote-makers and storytellers. Playing in the celebrity portion of the American Family Insurance Championship, Trevino was brought into the media center to take some questions, and the 78-year old was on top of his game.

Lee Trevino and Derek Jeter during the 2018 American Family Insurance Championship. Credit: Getty Images/Icon Sportswire

The first question posed to Trevino was one of those “what do you remember most” type ice breakers, and the six-time major winner went on, and on, and on, and on – uninterrupted – weaving together Vince Lombardi, Lee Elder, Paul Horning, Max McGee, El Paso, Jack Nicklaus, the Masters, the Greenbrier, Amana, Tuckaway, Iowa, Andy North, Derek Jeter, the U.S. Open, Steve Stricker, the Yankees, the Devil Rays, the Red Sox, his wife from Connecticut, American Family Insurance, his lawnmower, stone walls, machetes, weeding, and kayaks.

In one answer. It was classic Trevino!

Mr. Trevino, you played in the Greater Milwaukee Open five times in your career. What do you remember about playing golf here in Wisconsin?

TREVINO: Oh, I love that course, Tuckaway. I go way back with Wisconsin a little bit. I was in business and I ran around with Paul Horning and Jesse Whittenton and Max McGee and all those guys were my buddies. They used to come down to El Paso and we would go over to Juarez and party a little bit, play golf.

We actually started actually a cancer research center there and they used to come down and play with it. I had the chance of playing with Mr. Lombardi in a pro-am in Iowa when Amana had its tournament there. A lot of people that don’t remember Jesse Whittenton, he was a defensive back for the Green Bay Packers. I think he retired in ’65 if I’m not mistaken. I loved Tuckaway.

I remember having an eight-hole playoff there with Lee Elder. That was — Lee Elder was the first black to play in the Masters. At that time, you qualified by winning a golf tournament. I was trying to get myself over to the British Open real quick and I almost missed the plane. Eight holes, I lost on the eighth playoff hole.

But it’s good to be back, it’s good to be back. I knew a little something about this particular tournament because I don’t remember if it was Jack — I think it was Jack. I was the pro emeritus at the Greenbrier, as you well know, and American Family was kind of a co-sponsor there. They bought a sponsorship there; I don’t know what degree. I had lunch with him and — in the tent there at the 18th and we were talking at that moment about a golf tournament here in Wisconsin. I didn’t know whether he was talking about a big tournament or a senior tournament. We were trying to — naturally we were throwing the line out there because we were looking for a major sponsor at the Greenbrier.

We actually talked about this a little bit. I mentioned it this morning to some people at breakfast that work for American Family. I told him that this would be a perfect venue here. You’ve got two great ambassadors here, you’ve got Andy North, that won two U.S. Opens and then he also won a tournament in New York, but then you’ve got Stricker, and they don’t come any better than Stricker when it comes to, you know, getting things together.

I mean, here’s a guy that if you turn on your television and there’s a golf tournament, he’s always mentioned. They always mention Steve Stricker, about his putting and what a great guy he is, what a competitor, playing both tours and playing both of them very, very well. I think it’s a great venue. Not surprising that he shot 8-under par yesterday and took the lead, but I don’t know how you get two better ambassadors.

I’m happy to be here. Andy North called me up I think last fall or whenever it was and asked me if I was interested and I told him yes. So I didn’t have any clue who we were playing with, but I’m a Yankee fan and not because I’m playing with Jeter today but I’m a Yankee fan. I followed him forever. My wife’s from Connecticut, she’s a Red Sox fan and we put on — we would watch baseball every night in Connecticut when we lived up there and she would root for Boston, I would root for the Yankees. So I don’t know whether they came back and won last night or not. They were down in the seventh I think 2-1 to Tampa. So I don’t know, did they win? Hey, hey, that’s 19 — that’s 17 — that’s 18 out of 22 games they’ve won in a row. Judge get a hit?

Oh, no, not talking about the Yankees. Yeah, they were down, they were down in the seventh inning, I saw that.

But it’s good to be back. I don’t play much anymore. I’ll turn 79 in December. I’m still as active as ever. A month ago I got flipped off my mower so I landed in the driveway and busted an arm and a wrist. I don’t know what all I did. I didn’t want to tell my wife because she would kill me, but I still do all that crazy stuff.

If I tell you what I did the day before yesterday, you’d never forget it. I have a wall in my property and it’s about 200 yards along this creek and it’s about 15 yards wide but it’s all stone on both sides. And that stone, you know, the weeds and stuff starts growing through this and you have to keep it trimmed because if it ever pushes that stone out and the water gets behind it, it would blow a stone out. So I’m trying to find something to get in, a boat to get in here where I can go down there and chop this stuff down, and the only thing I can find was a kayak.

Now, you know how dangerous a kayak is and you’ve got to sit in it like this and I’m trying to hold onto the wall with a machete cutting this stuff down. My wife says, “You’ve got to be nuts,” but that’s what I do.

I live life to the fullest every day. I don’t ever change and I never will change.


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