Mister Cool

2012 Ryder Cup vice-captain Couples waves to the crowd
Photo/Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
2012 Ryder Cup vice-captain Couples waves to the crowd

Presidents Cup Captain and Hall of Fame golfer Fred Couples holds on to his laid-back life

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No one wants Fred Couples’ time to run out soon. He remains the most cuddly of all of golf’s stars, the man whose image reaches out through the HD screen.
“There were a lot of people who tried to make a big to-do about it when he became No. 1 in the world, it got written a lot that he didn’t like handling all that attention,” says Nantz. “I think he does a really good job of handling it. Here he is leading the Presidents Cup team to three straight victories and handling all the nuances that go into that, meeting with leaders of industries, governing bodies of golf, presidents of the United States, I think he handles himself quite well. He’s a wonderful hang guy. People enjoy being around him. His fellow pros love him. The modern day tour stars love him. There’s a magnetism about Fred.”
At the Hall of Fame induction Fred Couples was asked to explain who he is, which is the most difficult question to ask anyone—especially Fred Couples. As he often does, he went into a stream of consciousness, a lot of words coming out that didn’t add up to quite what he was trying to say. But that’s another of Couples’ endearing qualities.
“He’s the guy whose ball stayed on the bank at 12 at Augusta,” Couples said. “People know I won Augusta. He’s got a smooth, slow swing . . . I was answering this the other day, but maybe my knowledge of things is maybe a little bit different. When you’re a baseball player, and you get into the Hall of Fame, it’s a little weird no matter who you are today. I guess you wait five years [to get in]. And the weirdest thing is that I’m still playing. I had a chance to win Augusta, and the next month I’m in the Hall of Fame . . . I never thought about the Hall of Fame as a kid. I never made a putt in my backyard to [get in]. It was always to win the tournament that was on TV that week. I never made a putt to say, wow, if I make this I’m in the Hall of Fame. No one does that. But when in there, obviously, I’m lucky to be in here. I barely got in, but I’m in, and it’s quite an honor. That’s the answer to your question. A long one.”
It’s an answer, but it’s not about him. And maybe that’s the coolest part about him. That’s the part that Jim Nantz, and those people who know Couples well, love about him.
“The guy who stood up there before the world of golf and accepted this incredible recognition to join the game’s greatest, the game’s elite in the Hall of Fame, to break down and cry out of complete appreciation with his last line being a thank you for recognizing a kid from Seattle for the Hall of Fame, that’s who Fred is,” says Nantz. “He’s a guy who never forgot his roots, who has a grateful heart.”
And is completely cool about it.
Jeff Williams is a Cigar Aficionado contributing editor.
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