17 of the Best Golfer Nicknames of All-Time
What are the best nicknames of pro golfers in the history of the game? We’ve come up a list of 17 of our favorites. Some of them you’ll instantly recognize, others might be new to you. But all of them are fun (for fans, at least). Nicknames are listed alphabetically.
Woody Austin is Aquaman
Golfers typically get their nicknames early in their careers. It’s unusual for a nickname to show up late in one’s career and stick, or become well-known.
But Woody Austin was 43 years old when he got tagged as “Aquaman.” Prior to the 2007 Presidents Cup, Austin was best-known as a journeyman PGA Tour pro with a terrible temper – he occasionally did things like slam a putter shaft over his head, bending the shaft in anger.
But in 2007 he had a terrific season and made the United States Presidents Cup team. On Day 2, Austin was paired with David Toms in a fourball match against Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman. Austin drove into a water hazard on the 14th hole but decided to try to play the ball out of the water. He was standing on a steep bank, just inside the water, and when he swung his momentum took him backward. His balance lost, Austin face-planted right into the pond.
The next day, during his singles match, Austin put on a scuba mask as he walked up that 14th hole. “Aquaman” was born.
“Bam Bam” is Brittany Lincicome. And “Bamm Bamm” is the name of a Flintstones character famous for swinging his club with great strength. Coincidence? Doubtful!
Lincicome remembers being given the “Bam Bam” name by either Kristy McPherson or Angela Stanford in her rookie LPGA Tour season of 2005. Whichever of the two came up with it, the name stuck and Lincicome has been called that ever since.
Because Lincicome swings a very big stick, too, knocking drives well past almost every other LPGA golfer she’s paired with. In every year on tour, she’s been one of the longest drivers, or No. 1.
Lincicome’s nickname is similar to Fred Couples’ “Boom Boom.” And Boom Boom could just as easily have made our list. But we prefer Bam Bam: It’s sharper, stronger-sounder to our ear. And it’s just plain fun to say. Go ahead, say it out loud: Bam Bam! See? It’s fun!
The Big Easy
Ernie Els gained his nickname – “The Big Easy” – early in his professional career (he turned pro in 1989, but gained worldwide fame after winning the 1994 U.S. Open).
And “The Big Easy” is a perfect match of nickname and golfer. The 6-foot-3 Els came on the scene with a sturdy frame and with the ability to hit very long drives as a strapping young man. That’s part one. Part two is that his power appeared effortless – that swing is so fluid, so … easy. And part three is the easy-going, mellow personality that Els almost always has on display.
The Big Easy also gets extra credit because Els’ nickname served as the inspiration for another great golf nickname. Michelle Wie is called “The Big Wiesy.”
Boss of the Moss
Loren Roberts learned his approach to putting from Olin Dutra, a 2-time major winner in the 1930s. And his putting prowess was touted early on by another old-timer, 3-time major winner Cary Middlecoff.
By 1985, his fellow PGA Tour pros had seen enough of Roberts’ rules with the flatstick that a nickname seemed in order. David Ogrin was the PGA Tour player who provided it, dubbing Roberts “the Boss of the Moss” during that season (“moss” being a slang term for the putting green surface).
The name immediately stuck. Roberts went on to an 8-win PGA Tour career. He’s still making putts today as a senior major winner on the Champions Tour.
“Champagne Tony” is Tony Lema, the 1964 British Open champion. Two years earlier, Lema was just a 1-time winner on the PGA Tour playing the Orange County Open Invitational. The night before the final round, talking to the gathered press, Lema said that if he won the following day he’d have champagne delivered to the writers.
He did win, and he did deliver the champagne. From that point, he was never just Tony Lema, he was Champagne Tony Lema.
Unfortunately, Lema’s story ended soon after his lone major championship win. In 1966 the small airplane flying him and his wife to an exhibition tournament in Illinois crashed … onto a golf course. All on board were killed.
From 1962-66, Lema won 12 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1964 Open. He was dashing, handsome, had a cool nickname, and was one of the tour’s biggest winners. It ended much too soon for “Champagne Tony” and for golf.
Chucky Three Sticks
The great thing about the nickname “Chucky Three Sticks” is how diametrically opposed it sounds compared the actual name of the golfer to whom it applies: Charles Howell III. “Charles Howell III” is about as formal-sounding as it gets in golf; “Chucky Three Sticks” is about as informal-sounding as it gets. (The three sticks in question are the three I’s – Roman numeral “3” – at the end of Howell’s name.)
Howell turned pro in 2000 and joined the PGA Tour that year. And that’s the year that announcer Charlie Rymer, then with ESPN, coined the nickname.
“(Rymer) started it,” Howell once told ESPN.com, “and it stuck. Hey, you could always be called something worse.”
Howell might not be in love with his nickname, but it’s a lot of fun for the rest of us.
Patty Berg was small of stature, but a giant in the history of women’s professional golf. She still holds the women’s record for most major championships won with 15, the earliest in 1937, the last in 1958.
She was a “fiesty fireplug,” as the USGA once put it. She was a powerpack of energy and drive and determination, all topped off with a mop of red hair. “Firecracker” might have been a good nickname for her had “Dynamite” not stuck. But Dynamite is entirely appropriate, given all the energy she always displayed.
Berg was one of the first women in golf to sign with an equipment company, and represented Wilson Sporting Goods almost her entire adult life. She gave an estimated 10,000 golf clinics in her life as a Wilson rep.
The Golden Bear
Along with Arnold Palmer as “The King,” Jack Nicklaus’ “Golden Bear” moniker is the most famous in golf. (Many of Nicklaus’ old golf friends call him “Bear” conversationally.) The nickname originated in the early 1960s and was coined by Australian sportswriter Don Lawrence. Lawrence wrote for the Melbourne Age newspaper.
In reply to a question about what he thought of the young Nicklaus, Lawrence, according to Nicklaus.com, said that the blonde, crew-cutted and then-portly Nicklaus looked like a “cuddly, golden bear.”
Did Lawrence know that Nicklaus’ high school – Upper Arlington in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio – used “Golden Bears” as the name of its sports teams? And that its mascot was, yes, a cuddly, golden bear? It appears to have just been a coincidence.
But the Golden Bear nickname was born, and immediately caught on with golfers. Nicklaus enthusiastically embraced it, too – not surprising given that some golf fans (and some fellow pros) were calling him “Fat Jack” or “Ohio Fats” in those early days.
The Great White Shark
Greg Norman was already a winner on the European Tour when he showed up at Augusta National Golf Club in 1981 for his first Masters. And Norman set the United States golf media atwitter with his aggressive play – he finished fourth in that debut.
His look was noticed, too: that shock of blonde, almost white, hair, the distinctive face, and nose. Norman was a good talker, telling stories of encounters with great white sharks (it was only six years after the movie Jaws debuted) in the waters off his hometown in Australia.
And that did it: During Masters week 1981, the American media dubbed Norman “the Great White Shark.” Norman ran with it. In later years he created companies with the name, trademarked it, created logos and brands around the nickname.
Today “Great White Shark” is usually shortened to “Shark” by Norman and those talking about him.
On Friday, June 10, 1977, Al Geiberger became the first golfer in PGA Tour history – the first golfer on any significant professional golf tour – to shoot 59 during a sanctioned tournament. He did it in the second round of the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic (today known as the St. Jude Classic).
Geiberger had 11 birdies and one eagle, including a birdie on his last hole of the day to get the 59.
And forever since, and always, Geiberger is known as “Mr. 59.” Others have shot 59 since, and someday there will be a 58 on the PGA Tour. (And the golfer who does that first will become Mr. 58.) But there can only be one “Mr. 59,” and that is the guy who did it first. That is Geiberger.
Mr. X was Miller Barber, who showed up on the PGA Tour in the last year of the 1950s and went on to start a combined 1,297 tournaments between the PGA and Champions tours.
It was in the 1960s that Barber earned the Mr. X nickname. It was originally “The Mysterious Mr. X,” a name bestowed upon Barber by fellow pro Jim Ferree.
Why Mr. X? Because, James Bond-like, Barber had a tendency to disappear at night as he pursued the single life.
“I never told anyone where I was going at night,” Barber once explained to Golf Digest. “I was a bachelor and a mystery man with many girlfriends in many cities.”
The Pink Panther
Paula Creamer became a star very early in her LPGA Tour career, after turning pro at age 18 in 2005. She won Rookie of the Year that year, and her first major came at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
One thing fans immediately noticed about Creamer in her first months on tour was her fondness for the color pink. Creamer liked to wear a lot of pink. It might show up in her clothing, her shoes, her hair ribbons, on her golf bag. Sometimes even on her golf ball.
So calling her “The Pink Panther” makes a whole lot of sense. But, in fact, Creamer had that nickname before she ever turned pro. Casey Wittenberg, also a future tour pro, gave Creamer the “Pink Panther” nickname when they were both still amateurs.
Creamer now usually has a Pink Panther (as in the movie/comic strip/cartoon character) headcover in her golf bag, too, in addition to whatever pink she might be wearing.
In a 2006 interview, Creamer told Golf Digest why she’s so fond of pink: “It’s so girlie. It’s a totally different side of me. When people think of me on the golf course, they think of me as so competitive — and I am. Pink represents the other side of me, the side off the golf course. It reminds me there’s more to life than just golf.”
The Silver Scot
“The Silver Scot” is one of those golfer nicknames that is so ingrained in the sport’s history it’s almost impossible to imagine Tommy Armour ever being called anything else.
And why would he? He had silver hair, and he was a Scotsman! The nickname is also crisp and to the point, just like Armour himself.
This nickname first became famous during Armour’s playing career – he was a 3-time major championship winner. He later became a highly sought-after golf instructor, and the Tommy Armour Golf company, for decades, manufactured “Silver Scot” irons – one of the most iconic iron issues in the history of golf equipment.
The Towering Inferno
Tom Weiskopf was tall for a golfer in his era (he turned pro in the mid-60s): 6-foot-3. And he had a temper that he wasn’t afraid to show on the golf course.
So when the disaster movie The Towering Inferno arrived in theaters in 1974, the perfect nickname for Weiskopf arrived, too. He was “The Towering Inferno.”
That was just a year after Weiskopf won the 1973 British Open. He won 16 PGA Tour titles, and that one major. But many – Weiskopf included – thought he should have won more.
In a 2002 interview with Golf Digest, Weiskopf said, “The most persistent feelings I have about my career are guilt and remorse. Sometimes they almost overwhelm me. I’m proud I won (16) times on tour and the 1973 British Open. I should have won twice that many, easy. I wasted my potential. I didn’t utilize the talent God gave me.”
OK, maybe the reason for the nickname isn’t very sunny, but the nickname itself is great.
The Walking 1-Iron
Who was “The Walking 1-Iron”? Ken Brown. Brown, a Scotsman, played on the European Tour from the mid-1970s into the early 1990s. He won four times in Europe, plus once on the US PGA Tour.
What comes to mind when you think of a 1-iron (besides obsolescence)? One-irons were the longest irons and the thinnest blades. And that was Ken Brown: He was very, very thin in his early days (still is pretty thin today, in fact), and was considered tall (6-foot-1) for a golfer when he arrived on the scene.
One-irons are also notoriously difficult clubs and Brown had a reputation for being difficult. He was a very slow player and, sometimes, at least early in his career, refused to talk to pro-am partners – or even partners in team competitions.
Brown has no trouble talking today, though. He’s a broadcaster and writer.
The Walrus & Smallrus
Craig Stadler was nicknamed “The Walrus” for reasons obvious to anyone who remembers how he looked (or has seen photos of his look) in the 1970s and 1980s. His own website puts it this way: He earned the Walrus nickname “for his portly build and ample mustache.”
Those bushy whiskers really made the look, as did the, um, er, somewhat “galumphy ” way Stadler walked. We chose a photo from later in his career, however; from a time when he had ditched the bushy mustache for more of a trim goatee.
But for a good reason! That lookalike in the photo with him is son Kevin Stadler. Look-alike, they do: Same build, same (now) facial hair, same walk. It’s like Kevin is Craig’s Mini-Me.
So with Craig as the Walrus, what to call son Kevin? The Smallrus! Perfect. Father and son, Walrus and Smallrus.