This is a story of a PGA Pro who won 20 times on the tour and came in second in four majors and missed a 30-inch putt to lose the British Open, but never let those misses ruin his personality.
Doug Sanders grew up in the backwoods of Georgia. His family didn't have much money, and he picked cotton as a youngster to help out.
Sanders got into golf after becoming a caddie at a local nine-hole course. It was also there that he started gambling -- something else he was always known for -- chipping and putting against grown-ups for nickels and dimes.
After winning the National Junior Chamber of Commerce Tournament, Sanders landed a golf scholarship to the University of Florida. In 1956, Sanders became the first amateur to win the Canadian Open, and he turned pro shortly thereafter.
His rookie season on the PGA tour was 1957.
Sanders won five times in 1961, and three times each in 1962 and 1966. His final title was the 1972 Kemper Open.
Like Jimmy Demaret before him, Sanders spent a lot of time and money on his wardrobe, dressing in brightly colored slacks and shirts that always got him attention from both fans and fellow competitors. Everyone wanted to see what Doug Sanders was wearing.
His nickname was, "Peacock of the fairways."
Sanders was flashy in other ways too. He had a swing you couldn't miss, one of the shortest backswings ever seen on tour. He also ran with famous crowds, counting many celebrities among his friends, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Evel Knievel.
A favorite quote of of Sanders was, "I'm as rich as any man or woman in the world because I weigh and measure my wealth by friends, and golf has given me that opportunity."
I had the pleasure of being around this wonderful, outgoing man three times in my life and can see how he won so many friends.
The first time I saw Doug Sanders was in the Tony Lima Memorial Golf Tournament on Marco Island in 1972. It was an 18 hole Pro-Am with the 45 pros and 135 amateurs.
I played in the morning, and in the afternoon, I watched the action from my patio. I lived on the fairway off No. 4, about 250 yards from the tee on a 400-yard par 4 hole.
When Doug Sanders came through, he hit his tee shot in the fairway even with my neighbors yard. My neighbor and her husband rushed out to get a picture of Sanders hitting to the green. When Sanders saw my neighbor coming to take his picture he grabbed the camera from her and handed it to her husband and then put his arm around my neighbors wife and said, "snap it."
My neighbors were delighted and I was very impressed with Doug Sanders.
That night there was a banquet and I saw Doug again and he seemed to attract people -- as there was always three or four people around him. After leaving the PGA Tour, Sanders spent time as director of golf at The Woodlands Country Club near Houston. In 1978, he founded the Doug Sanders International Junior Championship.
Forty years later I attended a golf writers meeting in Augusta, Ga., a day before the Master's started play and what a thrill when I got to attend a banquet and sit at the same table with Doug Sanders.
During dinner and awards presentations, it was a very interesting two hours with this personable man and several good golf stories unfolded. We tried to stay away from the British Open, but it somehow came up and Sanders said he had heard it a 1,000 times.
When I asked Doug if I could get a picture with him, he jumped up and gave me a big hug and a picture.
I can see how he had so many friends.
That banquet was unforgettable.
In the last part of his life he lived in Houston and stayed busy with corporate outings, clinics and speaking engagements. He is author of the book "130 Different Ways to Make a Bet."
Chi Chi Rodriguez said: "Doug Sanders was the best money player I ever saw. A great player. He was a better golfer playing with his money than playing with other people's money."
This wonderful "Peacock of the Fairways" man left us for that fairway in the sky mansion earlier this year -- on April 12. He certainly was a bright spot in a lot of people's lives and will be missed.
Farewell and Aloha, Doug.
Sanders suffered from a condition called Torticollis -- a neck condition where the head tilted one way and the chin went the other -- that caused intense pain.
He was scheduled for an operation, but the doctor told him the operation wasn't guaranteed to rid him of the pain. Sanders told the Golf Digest in a 2003 interview that he met with a professional hitman and agreed to pay $40,000 for the hitman to kill him if the operation was not successful, but the operation was successful, and Sanders called and canceled the hit.
A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks -- Charles Gordy
Until next time ... live, love, laugh and learn, Glenmore.