Wednesdays With “Richard Zokol”
PGA Tour Hole-in-ones:
1. Dunked a 4-iron on the 12th hole at Congressional Country Club in Washington, DC (1984 Kemper Open)
2. Dunked a 5-iron on the 12th hole at English Turn in New Orleans (1988 Freeport McMoRan Open)
3. Dunked a 2-iron on the 4th hole at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, HI (1993 Hawaiian Open)
4. Dunked a 8-iron on the 8th hole at Brown Deer Park, Milwaukee, WI (1996 Greater Milwaukee Open)
2. What’s your favourite club (i.e. wedge)
ZOKOL: My favourite club was the very first Taylor Made “metal wood.” A fellow named Chuck Brenkus gave this “metal wood” to Bobby Clampett when we (Brigham Young University golf team) were preparing for the 1979 Western Athletic Conference Championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Chuck Brenkus was from Los Angeles who was a friend of the owner of a foundry making the first prototype Taylor Made metal woods. Their plan was to get Clampett to use the metal wood. But Bobby wasn’t thrilled about it, he give to me to use. I loved it—it was the first metal wood used in NCAA golf. I would just drop the ball on the tee ground without even teeing up the ball—just hit it off the deck. It was so easy to hit. The ball would come off the face like a rocket and was easy to control. I first used it in our conference championship then again in the 1979 NCAA Championship at Ohio State. TaylorMade, the Company, was just in its infancy stage. I used that metal wood when we won the 1981 NCAA Championship at Stanford and when I won the 1981 Canadian Amateur Championship in Calgary. That metal wood stayed in my golf bag for the first couple years on the PGA Tour before the face caved-in in 1983.
3. Peameal or bacon?
ZOKOL: Bacon—Peameal is more of an Ontario thing or as some refer to it as Canadian bacon. You don’t see it much in BC, I always just called it ham… didn’t know what Peameal was until I was well into adulthood.
4. Who introduced you to golf?
ZOKOL: My father introduced me to golf when I was 10-years old. Our family lived across the street from Marine Drive Golf Club in Vancouver where my mother and father were active golfers. My father asked me if I’d like to come to the golf course and caddy for him on Saturday and Sunday morning rounds at MDGC. I jumped at the opportunity to go to the golf course and caddy for my dad. As a boy I was immediately attracted to swing my dad’s clubs even though they were like swinging a telephone poll for a 10-year old. My father got the Pro at MDGC to cut down a driver and 5-iron to fit my length. I loved those golf clubs. After dinner on Mondays, when the Pro Shop staff would close early, my dad would take me down to the club to play nine holes. He’d tee-off, with me at his side. But when we got away from the Club House he’d drop a golf ball and I’d pull out my clubs we stashed in my dad’s golf bag and I’d swing away. I can still remember the remarkable feeling to play on the golf course—there was nothing like it. My parent gave me a junior membership to the Marine Drive Golf Club when I turned twelve years old in 1970.
5. Who was your first teacher?
ZOKOL: A couple years after becoming a junior member at MDGC when I started to progress, my father booked golf lessons for me with renowned Vancouver instructor, Jack Westover. Jack Westover was a former Pro at Marine Drive who became renowned for teaching a lot of great players including Doug Roxburgh and Wayne Vollmer. My father took me to weekly lesson with Jack at the driving range in North Vancouver where Westover worked in the early 1970s.
6. What is your favourite tournament course?
ZOKOL: My favourite tournament course is Pebble Beach Golf Links. I must have played in 20 Pebble Beach Pro-Am’s starting when the event was called the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am or just, “the Crosby.” I also played in two US Opens at Pebble Beach. Each time I play Pebble I get blown away in the remarkable natural beauty of the Monterey Peninsula. Pebble Beach is a very playable golf course for all levels of players. And when they prepare Pebble for a US Open competition, it has proven to be one of the best US Open venues.
7: Disco Dick? Who gave you that name?
ZOKOL: It was the first round of the 1982 Greater Milwaukee Open, my rookie year on the PGA Tour. I was paired with Larry Rinker and Ronnie Black, we tee-off the 10th tee in the morning of the first round. I didn’t pull out my Sony Walkman until I got down the fairway, away from the Club House. I had concerned what others veteran Tour players might think but took on the risk anyway. As we walked down the fairway, Larry Rinker turned around and saw me rocking the Walkman and said, “Hey Disco Dick.” I shot seven under par 65 wearing the Walkman between shots in PGA Tour competition. Coming down my last hole wearing a Walkman while leading the PGA Tour event caught a great deal of media attention. It was such a radical move the PGA Tour officials had to call the USGA to see if listening to music was legal in the Rules of Golf. For a moment after the round when the PGA Tour officials asked me what I was listening to, I thought I might get disqualified. The pressroom was a buzz with this radical Canadian rookie wearing a Walkman in competition and being the 1st round leader. “Disco Dick Leads GMO” made the headlines in newspapers across the country. Listening to music while on the golf course made a huge difference to calm my hyperactive mind and freeing me up to play the way I knew I could. It was a tremendous learning experience for me.
8: Most memorable victory?
ZOKOL: The most memorable victory was the 1992 Greater Milwaukee Open. What made it so memorable were two things. The first was the tournament had a strong field that year with the likes of Greg Norman, Nick Price, Payne Stewart, Larry Mize, Curtis Strange, Tom Lehman, etc. But more importantly was the situation I was in that moment. Two days before heading to Milwaukee I received notice that we had to move out of the house we were renting in Vancouver. We couldn’t afford to buy a house in the expensive Vancouver market and keep the family (with three young children) travelling on the PGA Tour. After receiving notice to move once again, I instantly felt I was failing as a provider for my family. A reaction of anger came over me. I felt a tremendous amount of desperation that quickly turned into inspiration. My feelings had more to do with putting a roof over my family’s head. I came downstairs from the phone call with the property management company that gave me notice and I said to my wife Joanie, “I am going to fucking win next week in Milwaukee.” I went to Milwaukee with the mindset that every player in the tournament was in the way of me putting a roof over my children’s head. It was a very empowering feeling. Those thoughts were extremely motivating and consumed my mind the whole week. The feeling started to build and I started to feel like all the players in the tournament didn’t know they didn’t stand a chance that week. I didn’t care who stood in front of me nothing was going to stand in the way of me winning the tournament. I felt like everybody get out of my way or I will knock you over. I shot 67-71-64-67 to win. The desperation I felt as a father and as a husband absolutely turned into the inspiration I needed to win. The money I won in the 1992 GMO went to purchasing our first home in Vancouver two weeks later. To this day, every time I think back to that situation, it makes the hair on my arms stand up.
9: What is your dream foursome?
ZOKOL: I have had the pleasure of playing with Sam Snead, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus on the PGA Tour events so my dream foursome would be playing with Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods at Cypress Point. (everyone in the foursome would be playing in their prime)
10: I’m cheering for the _______ to win the Cup.
ZOKOL: I am not much of a hockey fan as much as I am a Vancouver Canucks fan. So when Vancouver doesn’t make the playoffs I really don’t have much interest in hockey. But it is interesting to see how the Toronto Maple Leafs appear at the start of this season. I do find myself cheering for them at the moment. It would be great to see the Leafs won the Cup this year.