Raymond Floyd

Raymond Floyd's ability to sink high-stakes putts often ranked him among the scoring leaders on Tour. See more pictures of the best golfers.

Raymond Floyd's father was a career Army man, and his son's march on the golf course mirrors his being raised on military bases -- back absolutely straight and head high at attention, like a good soldier.

Raymond's carriage may have had something to do with the golf swing he developed. Tall but with rather short arms and a heavily muscled upper body, Floyd created what even he would acknowledge was a peculiar looking swing.


It has been likened to the construct of a football linebacker, or perhaps a windmill with a screw or two loose. The club goes back rather sharply to the inside with a dip of his left shoulder, then is raised seemingly straight up to the completion of the backswing. The zigzag route is pretty much repeated going back to impact.

Had he not stood so tall at address, the swing might have been more fluid and formful. Floyd's response to comments about his swing has always been, with a sly smile, "It ain't how; it's how many." Exactly.

And if he'd tried to shape a golf swing in the "classic" mode, he might well have taken too many. In a game where less is more, Raymond Floyd got well onto the lesser side of the ledger, and he has stayed there far longer than the pattern of his golf swing would suggest possible.

Clearly, Floyd simply has a gift for the essence of the game, keeping the ball in play and finding a way to make a score.

Floyd was an excellent baseball pitcher, his performance in his high school days so impressive that he was offered a $30,000 bonus to sign with a major-league club.

He opted for golf, a game he was inspired to play by his father and for which he also had obvious potential.

And yet, early on, he almost threw his gift to the winds.

One golf observer once said it was a wonder Floyd made it in golf when his first "heroes" were Doug Sanders and Al Besselink, two older fellows and outstanding golfers who had a penchant for wine, women, and song.

Floyd would later recount that his first 12 years as a touring pro (he began on the circuit in 1963) were "just a means to an end," a way to make enough money to have fun elsewhere. He was also a notorious high-stakes gambler on his golf game.

The consensus of the golf community in the early 1970s was that Floyd's talent was going to waste, even though he had won a PGA Championship (1969) and four other Tour events, and would never bear full fruit.

Then he met his wife, Maria, a strong personality in her own right who had a more conventional set of values. Everything was turned around. Raymond Floyd would become such an esteemed figure in golf that he would become known simply as Raymond. Everyone knew who was meant.

In 1975, having gone four years without a victory and with the first of his three children just born, Floyd won the Kemper Open. He followed that up in 1976 with an astounding eight-shot victory in the Masters as well as a win in the World Open.

From 1977-92, he won 15 times, including another Masters, another PGA Championship, and the U.S. Open in 1986, which gave him the distinction of being, at 44, the oldest-ever winner of the national championship.

Floyd had a knack for winning the big ones, the tournaments with the best fields playing on the toughest courses. Along with his major victories, Floyd won the 1981 Tournament Players Championship, the 1982 Memorial, and the Doral-Ryder Open three times.

The last Doral victory, in 1992, came just eight months before his 50th birthday, and it prepared him well for his entry to the Senior PGA Tour.

Floyd was expected to be a terror on the Senior circuit, and he definitely made that calculation a sound one. Right out of the box, late in 1992, he won three times, including the Senior Tour Championship, a senior major.

He won twice in 1993 and four times in '94, including another Senior Tour Championship. In all, through 1995, Floyd had won 34 times on both the PGA and Senior PGA Tours.

And just to show the young bucks of the next generation that he still could keep up, he entered 14 events on the PGA Tour from 1993-95 and finished in the top 10 three times -- and nine times in the top 25.

Floyd, who won the 1983 Vardon Trophy for low stroke average (70.61), played on eight Ryder Cup teams and was nonplaying captain of another.

Raymond Floyd is also one of just two golfers to win tournaments on the PGA Tour in four different decades. The other one? Sam Snead.


­For more information about golf, see: