It's A Dodd's Life
Good article in this week’s Global Golf Post by Lewine Mair on recent Senior Open Champion Stephen Dodd. If you think the stereotype of successful golfers craving fast cars, a jet set lifestyle and conspicuous consumption then the Welshman will make you rethink that idea.
Mair depicts a successful golfer who couldn’t give two hoots about the trappings of success. Dodd, who fended off an all-star cast at Sunningdale to win the Senior Open, is as laid back as they come. In fact, he’s so laid back he’s almost going backwards.
I once ghost write a column for Dodd when he played in the 1990 Masters. The Welshman earned his spot at Augusta by defeating Scotland’s Craig Cassells in the final of the 1989 Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale.
I remember at the time thinking Dodd, who missed the cut, was never going to be the life of any party any time soon, but he was pleasant enough and easy to work with. I also wasn’t surprised when he didn’t graduate immediately to the European Tour.
He seemed destined to be yet another Amateur champion in a long line who would not find real success in the professional game.
Dodd has made 12 trips to the European Tour Qualifying School during his career. Seven of those trips came after he won The Amateur. It wasn’t until he got his card in 2000 that he managed to gain a permanent foothold on the European Tour. And what a foothold. He parlayed that Q School result into three significant European Tour victories – the 2004 China Open, 2005 Irish Open and 2006 European Open.
Dodd earned €333,836 for winning the Senior Open, his fourth Legends Tour victory. He’s won €950,577 on that circuit to go with the €4.3 million he made on the European Tour. Not bad for being laid back.
As Mair notes, he wasn’t partying hard into the night as others might have done after winning his first senior major. He drove back to Barry, Wales, and was up at 5am the next morning to walk the six dogs he and better half Allison keep in their home along with three cats.
Indeed, Dodd had only played one event in 18 months before his Sunningdale victory because he wanted to be at home with Allison and their beloved pets. Typical Dodd.
So is the story about the Welshman winning the 2004 China Open and then struggling to get a flight home because of ash in the atmosphere from Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn. As Mair highlights, no problem for Doddy. He got a flight to Rome, took a 15-hour taxi ride to the Channel Tunnel, then another taxi back home once he’d landed on British soil. So what if it made a huge dent in his €127,621 winner’s cheque. He just wanted to be home with Allison and their pets.
The story Mair relates about Dodd’s six-ball lesson with coach Denis Pugh perfectly sums up the Welshman’s low key approach to the game he plays for a living.
“It was the shortest lesson I’ve ever given,” Pugh said. “Stephen did the three-hour drive to The Wisley and explained that something didn’t feel quite right.
“He hit three balls and I suggested an adjustment to his set up. So he put it right and, after hitting three more balls, said, ‘That feels great!’ and got in his car and drove home!”
I once had a conversation with a tour caddie who told me working for Dodd was the easiest job he’d ever had because the Welshman didn’t spend hours on the range beating balls. The Pugh story explains why.
Winning the Senior Open means Dodd can take advantage of the lucrative Champions Tour in the United States. It’ll be interesting to see if, at age 55, Dodd takes up that free ticket. As his 2005 World Cup winning partner Bradley Dredge notes:
“Doddy is a legend among the Legends – a truly great player who rarely gets motivated.”
#JustSaying: “Most of my wins are so long ago that I can’t remember the first thing about them.” Stephen Dodd on his three European Tour victories
Photograph by Getty Images courtesy of the European Tour