Nicknames of golfers, past & present

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From Aquaman to Zinger
Posted on
July 21, 2018
The Editorial Team in
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

We all like a nickname, especially in sports. Here we take a look at some of the nicknames given to professional golfers over the years and do our best to provide some rationale on why they came about. 


Aquaman Woody Austin: he fell in a lake on the follow-through from a difficult lie on the bank during the 2007 Presidents Cup
Babe Mildred Ella Didrikson Zaharias: hugely gifted all-round sportwoman, called ‘Babe’ (from Babe Ruth) after hitting five home runs in a baseball game. 41 LPGA wins, including ten majors (four of them won as an amateur).
Big Easy Ernie Els: because he’s big, and makes it look so easy.
Golfers' nicknames - past & present
Ernie Els (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Big Fijian Tough one, this. It’s Vijay Singh. Because he’s big (1.88m, 94kg) too, and he’s from Fiji.
Big Mama JoAnne Carner: winner of 43 LPGA titles, including two US Women’s Opens – a tall, powerful woman.
Big Wiesy Michelle Wie: tall, willowy and with effortless length, ie a sort of female Ernie Els.
Black Knight, The Gary Player: South African legend, famous for wearing black, supposedly to help him absorb the sun’s energy.
Boo Thomas Brent Weekley, a keen hunter and woodsman (from Boo Boo Bear, cartoon character friend of Yogi Bear)
Boom Boom Fred Couples: a reference to his immense power off the tee.
Boss of the Moss Loren Roberts: one of the finest putters in the game.
Buffalo Bill Billy Casper: prolific winner of tournaments from the 50’s to early 70s, including two US Opens and a Masters. Fought a lifelong battle with his weight, and ate buffalo meat and organic vegetables to try and keep it down.
Bulldog Corey Pavin : a reference to his gritty, determined, never-give-up playing style, rather than his slight, short-hitting physique. Won the 1995 US Open with a memorable 4-wood to 5 feet on the final hole.
Champagne Tony Tony Lema: winner of the 1964 Open Championship. Aquired the name after promising champagne to the press if he won the Orange County Open in 1962 (he did). Died aged 32 in 1966 when his plane ran out of fuel and crashed onto a golf course.
Chippie Paul Lawrie: 1999 Open Champion, for his enviable short game, developed as a child by chipping balls into a small gravel circle in which stood the rotating clothes line on which his mother hung the washing.
Chocolate Soldier Henry Picard: American winner of the Masters and US PGA, contemporary of Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. “Pick” to his friends, he was head pro at the Hershey Country Club in the 1930s, whence the nickname. Also called the “Hershey Hurricane”.
Choke, The Scott Hoch: unforgiving reference to his habit of challenging for, but losing major titles, including missing two 2-3 foot putts in the 1989 Masters which ultimately gave Nick Faldo the title.
Chucky Three Sticks Charles Gordon Howell III: as in I, I and I…


Doc Gil Morgan: successful US pro (7 PGA and 25 Champuions Tour wins, who is also a qualified Doctor of Optometry.
Double D Former world number one David Duval.
Duffy James Joseph Waldorf, Jr: four-time PGA Tour winner and wine connaisseur, with a taste in flamboyant shirts and golf balls decorated by his children.
El Gato Eduardo Romero: Spanish for cat – the Argentine has a feline way of stalking around his shots.
El Niño Sergio Garcia : first came on tour as a brash teenager and had a ‘whirlwind’ style on the course.
Fuzzy Frank Urban Zoeller: from his initials F.U.Z. Winner of the Masters amd the US Open.
Gentle Ben Ben Crenshaw: ironic reference to his fierce temper, despite angelic looks.
Giant, The Craig Smith: to date, his main claim to fame is being the world’s tallest touring professional at 6ft 8in (2m.03).
Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus – from his blond hair, large frame, aggressive golf and large fortune earned in golf and business.


Goose, The Retief Goosen – enough said, although strictly speaking the nickname is linguistically incorrect, as his name is pronounced ‘Hersen’ in his native Afrikaans.
Great White Shark Greg Norman, big, blond, Australian former world no. 1. Ironically, despite the nickname and his prodigious number of tournament victories around the world, he is arguably more famous for the major championships he failed to win than for those (2 Open Championships) he won.
Haig, The Walter Hagen : also called “Sir Walter” – golf’s first superstar. He won eleven of what are now called the majors (before the Masters existed); only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have more. Did much to change the perception of professional golfers and their status in golf.
Halimoney Hal Sutton: the 2004 (losing) US Ryder captain has three ex-wives.
Hawk, The Ben Hogan: probably for his ability to intimidate opponents with his skills, but also his icy stare and stony silence as he went about his game. Possibly the greatest ball-striker of all time (definitely the best, according to Jack Nicklaus).
Huckleberry Dillinger Early nickname for Tom Watson (who comes from Kansas City, Missouri), because his innocent looking, smiling face belied a killer instinct in his golf.
(Wee) Ice Mon Ben Hogan: name given to Hogan by admiring Scots after his (only appearance and victory) in the Open Championship at Carnoustie. Also called “Bantam Ben”, for his lightweight, yet powerful build.
Jesse Mark James: (losing) 1999 European Ryder Cup captain, after the US outlaw.
Jumbo Masashi ‘Junbo’ Ozaki is a large man in a country of generally smaller men, and immensely long off the tee. In the late 80s and 90s he was frequently in the Official World Golf Ranking top ten.
King, The Arnold Palmer: to millions of adoring fans (Arnie’s Army) he was simply the King, the most popular golfer of all time, who did much to create the modern game and its huge following, with his swashbuckling golf style and charismatic personality.
Lefty Phil Mickelson: not very original, although strangely he is right-handed in everything else, having started golf by copying his father's swing like a mirror-image, hence the left-handedness).
Lumpy Tim Herron: given to him when he was 15 and working at a golf course by his colleagues, on account of his unstructured body shape.
Machine, The Gene Littler: from his technically perfect, beatiful golf swing. Name also applied to Ben Hogan, although his swing was more mechanical in its flawlessness.
Mechanic, The Miguel Angel Jimenez: the Spaniard loves to tinker with high-performance cars (in partiucular his own Ferrari), having spent six months working in a garage before he became a professional golfer.
Merry Mex Lee Trevino: although American, he had Mexican roots. From his habit of wisecracking throughout a round, even sometimes on his backswing. Probably a way of controlling his own nerves, and likely also a gamesmanship tactic against his opponents. As his career blossomed, "Merry Mex" evolved into "Supermex".
Miss 59 Annika Sorenstam, who shot the only 59 ever on the LPGA Tour in the second round of the 2001 Standard Register Ping tournament over the par-72 Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix. Her personalised Callaway golf balls have '59' stamped on them.
Monty Affectionate, not very original name for Colin Montgomerie, eight time European Order of Merit winner. Also sometimes called 'Mrs Doubtfire' in America, after the Robin Williams film character, but this is best said out of his hearing.
Ohio Fats Jack Nicklaus: name given to him by 'Arnie's Army' (fans of Arnold Palmer) in the early to mid-60s when he was a young pretender knocking 'The King' off his throne . Nicklaus came from Columbus, Ohio and was overweight when he went on Tour, although he slimmed down in the late 60s.
Peanut Kim Mi-Hyun, successful Korean LPGA player, only 5ft 1 and small with it.
Pink Panther Paula Creamer: pink is her trademark, from her clothing to her hair ribbon, golf ball, club grips and bag.
Pink Panther Jesper Parnevik: the eccentric Swede has an individual dress sense and was freqently seen in various shades of pink.
Popeye Craig Parry, after the cartoon character with huge forearms.
Radar Mike Reid, US PGA pro, for his straight driving (and possibly a passing resemblance to the character from the M*A*S*H TV series).
Radar Wayne Riley, Australian pro turned Sky TV on-course commentator. Named after 'Radar' O'Riley from M*A*S*H.
Robopro Bob Estes : term coined by US commentator and pro Gary McCord, in reference to his mechanical, wooden swing and dour demeanour.
Scientist, The Robert Karlsson: the Swede acquired this sobriquet for his extremely analytical and technical spproach to the game.
Shrek Louis Oosthuizen: the gap-toothed South African 2010 Open Champion at St Andrews is thought by friends to resemble the animated cinema ogre. By the way, 'Louis' is not his birth name - his passport states 'Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen, after his grandfather.
Slammin' Sam Samuel Jackson Snead: seven time major winner anmd to this day holder of the most PGA Tour titles record with 82, and almost as many elsewhere in the world. Possessed a wonderfully elegant, smooth, effortless swing, which genereated enormous power and distance, hence the nickname.
Slow Motion Don January: PGA Tour player from the 50s into the 70s who won 10 titles, including the 1967 US PGA Championship, with a swing, gait and manner that was always slow and smooth.
Smallrus, The Kevin Stadler: Son of 1982 Masters Champion Craig, Kevin is - minus the facial hair - a dead ringer for his Dad, The Walrus.
Smiling Assassin Shigeki Maruyama : fine Japanese pro with a permanent smile, whatever he's doing or how he's playing.
Spaceman Jesper Parnevik: the name his fellow PGA pros give him - presumably because he's a little 'extra-terrestrial' (he used to eat volcanic dust as a dietary supplement).
Squire, The Gene Sarazen: of Italian extraction, Eugenio Saraceni had a very gentlemanly manner, was very elegant in plus fours and a owned large country estate in the US. He won seven majors and is won of only five men to have won all four modern major titles.
Tank (KJ) Choi Kyung -ju: a power lifter in his youth, short and very powerfully built.
Tiger Eldrick Tont Woods: given the name by his father Earl in memory of a Vietnamese soldier friend, Vuong Dang Phong, whom Earl had also nicknamed 'Tiger'. 'Tont' is a traditional Thai name, given by Tiger's Thai mother, Kultida.
Tower, The Isao Aoki, hugely succesful player in the 1970s and 80s, now in the World Golf Hall of Fame, a winner on the Champions Tour and a TV analyst, who at 6ft is a tall man in Japan. Reached no. 3 in the World Rankings in 1980.
Walrus Craig Stadler : from his bulky shape, jowls, seemingly small eyes and, of course, his moustache.
Wild Thing John Daly: the chain-smoking, supremely gifted double major winner has been through acrimonious marriages and divorces, alcoholism, fights and more, and likes to live on Tour out of a huge mobile home (the 'Dalymobile') rather than a hotel room.
Yogi Steve Lowery: a large, bearded, rather bear-like PGA Tour pro
Zinger Paul Azinger: no prizes for guessing why. Victorious 2008 US Ryder Cup captain and winner of the US PGA, was in the world top 10 for almost 300 weeks. Now an American TV commentator.
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The editorial team at Golf Today strives to provide readers with captivating content that celebrates the rich heritage and exciting developments in the world of golf. Their collective expertise and dedication ensure that Golf Today remains a premier destination for golf enthusiasts seeking the latest news, insightful analysis, and engaging stories from the world of golf.

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