Rather than seeing this as some sort of childish dig at some players who are carrying too much timber but more a celebration of some of the sweetest swingers who have won around the world without having to frequent the gym twice a day…
1. Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston
Tour wins: 1
Last year’s champion of Valderrama signed a deal with Arby’s who are well known for their beef. Get it?
‘Andrew’ is these days as well known for smashing drivers through a load of burgers as he is for his exploits on the course but he’s also a hell of a player with a particularly good touch.
As for the nickname well it has nothing to do with his love of burgers or such like.
“When I was a kid, if I’d grow my hair out, I’m quarter Jamaican so it goes curly. So one of my friends said, ‘Look at your head, it looks like a big bit of beef. You’ve got a beef head.'”
2. Craig Stadler
Tour wins: 15
The 1982 Masters champion is affectionately known as The Walrus due to his portly physique and droopy ‘tache.
The American has generally retained his chunky physique over the years – his son Kevin is along similar lines and swings it eerily similarly – but it hasn’t stopped him ticking off the Ws.
“It’s difficult losing weight, and I gained it back. I may be overweight now, but I could climb mountains for 10 straight days and not get winded.”
3. Jack Nicklaus
Tour wins: 73
Back in the day the 18-time major winner was dubbed ‘Fat Jack’ or ‘Ohio Fats’ as much probably for the fact that he was beating everyone’s favourite, Arnold Palmer, as well as his bulky frame of his early years.
But then, after playing 36 holes in a day at the Ryder Cup in 1969, Nicklaus said he felt tired and realised that things would need to change.
On the plane home he told his wife he would lose 20 pounds. “A friend of mine had just used the Weight Watchers diet, I said, ‘Let me try your diet. I put on my shorts and a pair of golf shoes and went to the golf course with four or five clubs. I would hit and run around the golf course. I lost 15 pounds in two weeks … I actually ended up losing another five. I went from 210 to 185.”
4 Tim Herron
Tour wins: 4
When your nickname’s ‘Lumpy’ there is a suggestion that you’re a big lad. Herron got the unwanted moniker when he was 15 as he revealed in an interview with Golf.com.
“When I was a kid, it was more about the baby fat, but I think now I’ve, uh, grown into the name. How it came to be was at the first job I ever had, at a golf course, I came in the first day and they asked if I had a nickname and I said no, and they said, ‘All right, go do some work, pick up some golf balls and when you come back we’ll have one for you.’
“So I came back up and they said, ‘Hey, Lumpy, what’s going on? Do you like your new nickname?’ And I said, ‘Not really.’ And they said, ‘Well, perfect, it’s gonna stick then!’
Lumpy did try to lose weight at the start of this century but it didn’t work out, no pun intended.
5. Russell Claydon
Tour wins: 1
Throughout the ’90s Claydon was a regular sight on the European Tour. As well as the win, which came in Germany in 1998, he was equally well known for finishing runner-up to Greg Norman in the Australian Masters while still an amateur in 1989.
Claydon, who employed a three-knuckle grip, was thought to be a ‘bit of a character’ and not just for the fact that he was overweight. There’s a few good stories about Claydon, one of which when Mark Roe let off a fire hose at him in a hotel which knocked him clean off his 18-stone frame.
The reason? Roe was reading Jurassic Park, the book, and he made the mistake of telling Claydon how much he was enjoying it. So when he got half a chance Claydon ripped out the last chapter which led to Roe waiting outside his hotel bedroom for 45 minutes to get the chance to wipe him out.
6. Shane Lowry
Tour wins: 3
Lowry is the last amateur to win on the European Tour having beaten Robert Rock in a play-off for his national Open in 2009. The Englishman had the compensation of collecting the €500,000 winner’s cheque. Bizarrely the other two amateur winners came earlier that year, Danny Lee, with the other being Pablo Martin in 2007.
After he won he said the plan was to get back to his diet and to trying to get into the Walker Cup team.
Lowry turned pro the week after and the diet never really took off.
7. Angel Cabrera
Tour wins: 8
This is too good a story not to pass on. Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck once wrote this of big Angel…
“Earlier in the evening a quaint Masters tradition had compelled him to eat a champion’s dinner with the Augusta National members.
“Eschewing the lobster macaroni and cheese and other delicacies from the buffet, Cabrera settled on an irresistible item called the Tiger Woods Cheeseburger. The burgers were smaller than expected, so a famished Cabrera ate nine of them, washed down by gulps of red wine.
“Back at the house, as it neared 2am, he took lusty sips of his favourite drink: Coke mixed with Fernet Branca, a bitter, aromatic spirit brewed from grapes and more than 40 herbs and spices.”
8. Carl Pettersson
Tour wins: 7
The Swede is now outside the top 1,000 in the world but he was, at one point, a regular winner on the PGA Tour. Like all the others he did toy with losing a few pounds but it didn’t work out for him.
After winning in 2010 he explained how more weight equalled more Carl…
“After 2008 I had one of my best seasons on Tour and I kept thinking, ‘What am I going to do to get better? Obviously I was a little overweight. I thought, well, I’ll get fit. So I actually lost 30 pounds, and my game completely left me.
“I guess the timing of the swing and everything was thrown out and I really struggled in ’09. I’d love to be fitter but I’m not going to go down that road again.”
9. Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Tour wins: 3
Big Kiradech is another win waiting to happen on the European Tour. Now inside the world’s top 100 the Thai star complements his look by also piling through the tabs on the course.
One interesting, and quite odd fact, about the three-time winner: His previous name was Anujit Hirunratanakorn but he was advised to change my name to have better luck. Told you it was strange.