Q&A with Digger Phelps
Television basketball analyst and former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps has played in all but the first celebrity golf championship. He arrived in Tahoe Monday to get in some practice rounds and catch up with his golf buddies.
Q: Why do you like to play this tournament every year?
A: It’s the boys of summer. All of us, from different walks of life, we just look forward to this. It’s like an extended family. We’re like brothers. And the people at Tahoe do such a great job — all the volunteers and the people here at Edgewood. I’ve always called this the Masters of the celebrity tour. Some nights I’ll sit there in that studio in February and it could be a blizzard outside and I’ll say “Hang in there Digger, July’s coming.”
Q: Do you have a favorite hole?
A: I hate 10 and 11. I have nightmares about those in the winter. If I start out double bogey, double bogey I’m gonna be in the 90s. If I can go out there and just get par, par, I might be in the low 80s. On my 60th birthday six years ago, I birdied 9, which was my (final hole) on Sunday for a 79. So I’ve had the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat. And the agony of defeat is 10 and 11.
Q: How is your game this year?
A: I was in Europe for two weeks. I flew in from France Thursday night. I’ve probably played about five times all year, but it’ll come back. I’ll practice tomorrow and play in the celebrity-amateur on Thursday. And I just have the mind-set, I just want to break 90 and have fun, and then try to get through 10 and 11 and I’ll feel a lot better.
Q: Are basketball players the best golfers?
A: I’d say hockey’s the best because they slap shot. I think the hockey guys have the advantage. But it’s interesting to see the quarterbacks play the game too. We’ve got Billy Joe Tolliver and Mark Rypien who have won it out here. But I think mainly it’s they guys who play and practice — that’s what it comes down to. Look at a guy like Vince Coleman who is capable of getting hot and putting it in the low 70s and making a run at it.
Q: So you love this tournament?
A: It’s just great to get out here. I really miss it during the year and I tell you what, Sunday night I’ll be depressed a little bit because it’s over with and tomorrow’s the first day of winter, as I call it. Lake Tahoe should just be so proud how this has developed.