18 Questions With ...
Stan Lee, The Golfer, Not
Of Comic Book Fame
February 22, 2008
Not to be confused with Spiderman creator Stan Lee,
this Stan Lee enjoys spinning balls instead of webs.
Thirty-eight years passed between the time Lee played in
his first U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and won his
first USGA title - that being the Senior Amateur
last September at Flint Hills National Golf Club in
Lee, who became the youngest winner of the
championship - 55 years and 5 days - competed on the PGA
Tour from 1976-80 before returning home to Heber Springs,
Ark., where he currently is the vice president for First
Arkansas Bank and Trust.
Lee shared his thoughts about the importance of golf
in his life, stories from his professional days and
living in a town with a population of 6,500.
Now that you are the reigning USGA Senior Amateur title
holder, how often have you been introduced as a champion
and what's your reaction?
I am from a small town in Arkansas so everyone knows
everyone here. That has become my moniker now. People
do not even call me by name; they just say, 'There is
the national champion.' It has been a lot of fun to
this point, but it is time to move on. It has been a
thrill. USGA champion has a real ring to it. I love it.
Do you have any golf superstitions you care to
Never wear orange. Someone might think you are a
[University of Texas] Longhorn fan.
Do you have a favorite club in your bag?
Any wedge. I can get up and down from inside a
Did winning the Senior Amateur title change you in any
No, golf is not a big deal to me. When I was younger I saw
myself as a golfer. Now I am a father, husband,
grandfather, etc. I do not want to be a golfer again.
Something about you that people might be surprised to
know about you?
I am a history buff. I am a walking encyclopedia of
innocuous facts. I would rather be at a good battlefield
than a good golf course.
Most nervous you've ever been on a golf course?
On the final tee of Q-School for the PGA Tour. It was my
first try and I had it made but to get that shot in the
fairway was the greatest relief I have ever felt. It
was the last time I have cried on a golf course until Sept.
6, 2007 at the Senior Am.
If you could be the 'Czar of Golf' for one day,
what one rule would you change or implement?
I hate and have always hated the out-of-bounds rule. That
is too severe a penalty. Also, make the cups 18
inches wide. Just kidding, 14 would probably do it.
What's been your biggest 'Wow!' moment as a
I got to meet President [Gerald] Ford and Bob Hope at the
Bing Crosby tournament [at Pebble Beach]. I was playing a
practice round by myself and hurried to the first tee at
Spyglass Hill. I noticed many men in black suits and ties
in sunglasses, but thought nothing of it. As I prepared to
hit, a voice said to me, 'Excuse me young man, but you
just cut right in front of us.' It was President Ford
with Mr. Hope. All the guys in suits were Secret Service
guys. I could not speak. They just picked me up and moved
me to the side and went ahead.
What was your most embarrassing moment on the golf
I was playing in the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open
when I split my pants from stem to stern. It was not just a
little rip and left nothing to the imagination. I tried to
fit a towel around my waist, to no avail. Someone got a
good shot. The crowds were large and at every green I
received cat calls. I decided to just go with the flow so I
hammed it up with the crowds. I am sure there is someone to
this day that remembers some dimwit pro running around with
his underwear hanging.
In the immediate aftermath of winning a championship,
every winner says, 'It feels great,' or 'I
can't believe it,' but it takes some distance to
fully appreciate what you accomplished. When did that come
for you after winning the Senior Amateur?
In the first 48 hours after winning I received over 600
phone calls. That was staggering. Also, one of my former
universities (Central Arkansas in Conway where I attended
my first two years) had a reception for me. Then about 80
of my friends showed up at a reception here in Heber
Springs. These events told me that this was a really big
deal and many shared in the enthusiasm. It has been a
tremendous thrill to be a USGA champion. No matter what age
level you are, to win a USGA event is a big deal.
How did you celebrate winning the U.S. Senior
I got on my four-wheeler and went way back into the woods
and camped out for the weekend. That is the greatest most
relaxing sound in the world, that of nature.
Do you like to practice to improve or are you the type
of player who gets better by playing?
I would rather practice than play. I would be happy to just
hit balls the rest of my life and never play again.
Unfortunately, all competition is decided on the course.
You're the youngest USGA Senior Am champion, but
could you have imagined in 1969 when you played in your
first U.S. Junior Am that it would take 38 years to win a
Had I known that, I believe it would have been
discouraging. However, the wait was worth it. To be at this
age and experience something like this is very gratifying.
I appreciate it so much more now. I am just so thankful the
Lord allowed me this.
You were an All-American at LSU in your collegiate days,
so how much did you enjoy the Tigers' national
championship football season?
Tigers, that was tremendous - 2003 and then again right
now. It is great to be a Tiger fan.
What were the highlights of your PGA Tour career from
1976-1980? And then what prompted you to apply to regain
your amateur status?
I re-applied because I was not good enough to make the kind
of money I felt necessary to warrant being gone 40-plus
weeks a year. My highlight was getting to come home. My
second highlight would be a second-place finish in the New
Orleans Open in 1977 to [the late] Jim Simons. I really
never fit the tour. I always wanted to be home. There are
not many PGA events in Heber Springs, so that kind of
limited what I could play in.
What does Stan Lee enjoy doing when not playing golf?
And along those same lines, how much time do you spend on
your game these days?
I love to hunt and watch my grandkids compete in sports. I
play one day a week. I love the game but not on a
daily basis. I have had my time with that.
You live in the town of Heber Springs, Ark., population
of 6,500. What do people in Heber Springs do for fun? Was
your winning a national title the biggest news in town
We are a resort area located one hour north of Little Rock.
We have a 44,000-acre lake with the clearest, cleanest
water you can imagine. Below our dam is a world-renowned
trout stream, the Little Red River. The world record brown
trout was taken here. People here love to
fish and take advantage of the water sports. Also, this is
Razorback country and most folks live and die with the
You jokingly predicted that you were going to win the
Senior Amateur early last summer. What's going to be
this year's bold prediction?
I pity the fool who tries to take the crown.