Three-time major champion Jan Stephenson joins to talk about being named to the 2019 Hall of Fame, her ongoing mission to giving back to veterans, and her newfound success in becoming an award-winning rum maker.
The Golf Show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Shon Crewe (00:05):
Twenty-six professional wins worldwide, 16 LPGA wins, three major championships, and now one incredible honor of being named to the 2019 World Golf Hall of Fame, congratulations.
Jan Stephenson (00:18):
Thank you. You know, I can't believe it. I still get goosebumps every time somebody even introduces me that way.
Shon Crewe (00:23):
(laughs) Well, I want to start with that. I mean, this is something that you'd wanted for a while, and even this time, you weren't necessarily sure that it was going to happen. Can you describe for us what it felt like to receive the news from Nancy Lopez?
Jan Stephenson (00:36):
Well, you know, she actually had called me the last time that I was on the ballot, and it looked like I was going to probably get it, and then she had to call me and tell me that I didn't get it. So you know, she called five years ago and said, "You know, I know how hard you worked to help the tour back in the 70s and 80s." Then she said, "You know, one day, you'll make it, but you didn't make it," and of course, I started crying, and I said, "Well, that's okay." And you know, typical of Lopez, she was very gracious and, you know, I'm sure she hates to do that, but you know, the top four, it's always up to the last four, which is Jack Nicklaus and used to Arnold Palmer and then it's Gary Player and Annika herself, and so they are the ones that have to tell the people if they've made it or not. And Nancy chose to give it to me.
So she called me and I looked and saw who was calling, and it was Nancy Lopez, and so I immediately started crying thinking I haven't made it again because she's always the one stuck with telling people they haven't made it. And she started the conversation the same way. She said, "Jan, I know how hard you've worked," and I started crying, and she started crying. But she said, "But this time, they made it, and they recognized you," and I'm like, "What did you say?" And then I heard Nicklaus and Gary Player laughing in the background so they were all sitting there doing speaker and I went I really did make it because I know they wouldn't have laughed. And it was like wow.
Jim Moore (02:08):
That's fantastic, Jan. What's it mean to you?
Jan Stephenson (02:12):
Well, it actually means that like the top around my career because I feel like, you know, a lot of things I did to help the tour back in the 70s and 80s, most of the people that are not around that knew how much I worked for the tour to get it started and to sign all the new contracts, so to be recognized for that, and it actually was merit-based, so they changed the rules and recognize now my international wins or any international wins. And so that made a big difference because when I came over here from Australia, our Australian tour was so small and when everybody kept leaving and going to Australia, it kind of made the Australian LPGA disperse for a while. And so I couldn't actually enter as an international player. So I joined the LPGA and entered as an LPGA U.S. player. And so what happened is they didn't recognize when I won in Europe or in Asia or Australia. Well, then after, there's been so many international players since then that they said well that's not fair because she's won on all three tours and that should be recognized, which I'm really happy about it. And I've actually been saying, I kept trying to tell myself, well, you know, I've had this amazing career and, you know, I know how hard I worked and the people important have known, but I say it's like a sundae. You know, my career has got, you know, everything from chocolate and strawberry and vanilla and bananas and whipped cream and I'm just not gonna get the cherry with the Hall of Fame. So now that's definitely the cherry on top.
Jim Moore (03:38):
(laughs) That's fantastic. We're talking to Jan Stephenson here on The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe, 710 ESPN Seattle, elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame this year. What do you think the ceremony will be like for you, June 10th at Pebble Beach?
Jan Stephenson (03:54):
Oh I know it's going to be very emotional because I've got friends that I've known, you know, not just my family coming but friends that I've known for 40 years on tour, all the way through to people that I've helped in the military that are coming. So it's like this huge array of people that have supported my career or supported me, and it's going to be hard not to cry. And I'm not like Lopez. Nancy cries at anything; we always tease about that. She cries whether she's happy or sad. It's going to be really emotional for me.
Shon Crewe (04:22):
Well, you'll be playing at the Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup here in a few weeks, but you've also won here in the past, at the Safeco Classic at Meridian Valley. What does it mean to be coming back here to the Pacific Northwest again?
Jan Stephenson (04:34):
Well, I love the area. I've always loved playing in the Seattle area. You know, I've always had great fans there, and I still get quite a bit of fan mail from there. And that was one of my last wins on the LPGA tour was in Seattle. I'll never forget because that's where I beat Nancy Lopez on the last two holes, and the week before, she had beaten me. And I said, "Oh, here we go again." So it really has a special feeling and the Suquamish, that casino and the Tribe have been so supportive of us, and actually, I have a big trophy case, and they gave us these beautiful paddles, and that's definitely sitting prominently in the trophy case. So I'm really looking forward to coming back. And they actually even changed the date because they knew with the Hall of Fame the next, you know, at the Men's U.S. Open, that all the Hall of Famers get together the night before they actually get inducted, and they give a dinner, which they're giving at the Beach Club at Pebble for the new inductees. So all the Hall of Fame come to it and then when Julie and Hollis Stacy and everybody were saying well, we can't play the event because we've got to be there for this special Sunday, let alone me be able to play, and Suquamish said, "You know what? This is too special for the players. We're going to finish the tournament on the Saturday so you can make it" which was really wonderful.
Jim Moore (05:56):
Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup at the White Horse Golf Club in Kingston, June 7th and 8th. We're talking to Jan Stephenson here on The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe, 710 ESPN Seattle. And Jan, yeah, for people who aren't familiar with the Legends Tour, can you give us an update on how things are going? I think it's fantastic. It's for golfers 45 and over.
Jan Stephenson (06:20):
And it is, and you know, it's like the Champions Tour for the LPGA; I mean we are the official senior tour. But it's another chance for us, just like with the Champions Tour, to see us play and of course, we love it because we get to compete. And actually, I think it's actually more fun now because, you know, people like Pat Bradley when it was most important, you know, you're so wrapped up in your whole career that you don't give, you know, your friendships as much importance, and now you do. And so it's been really fun for us because we get to kind of hang out socially as well. I remember when I left the LPGA Tour, we would get fined if we didn't go to Pro-Am parties because quite a few players weren't, and then they had to tick off the attendance to make sure you were there. Well, with our Tour, you don't have to ask if they come. They can't wait to go to parties. It's like what a difference, and it's fun. And I actually have my own line of rum that we're doing a rum tasting at the casino at the pro-am party. So it'll be really fun for me.
Shon Crewe (07:21):
I want to ask you about that. I know you've been doing wine for a while, but I was surprised to hear about you've got this incredible rum line. How did you get involved in that?
Jan Stephenson (07:29):
Well, it's kind of a long story. I kept saying no because I knew how hard the wine was, and I've been in it now six years, but the first four years were really hard to make it work because it is so competitive. And then I had some people that were building a distillery in Salt Lake City, and they wanted me involved because, you know, I've built the business up with distributors, and I was doing wine tastings around the country, doing short game clinics and getting in all of the country clubs. And I'm like no, this is way harder work. And I made the mistake of going to Utah and seeing the distillery being built and I was so impressed with this water coming out there was so good, coming down from the mountains, you know, the ski mountains from Deer Valley that I invested in the distillery. And of course, the guy wanted Australian flavors so we did pineapple, passion fruit, and mango rum, and I have to say that the pineapple rum has won… I've owned the distillery a year, and I've already got six gold medals, so it's really doing well.
Shon Crewe (08:34):
Well, you are one of those incredibly talented women who has a million things going on, and you do so much to give back as well. A couple of years ago, you purchased a golf course in Palm Harbor, Florida. It needed some love, but that's not all you had in mind. You actually wanted to do something special for the veterans.
Jan Stephenson (08:51):
I did. You know, I've always been an ambassador, probably for the last 25 years, for a company for Dr. Handa, who has always done a lot for blind golf. So I was trained on how to teach blind for golf, and then I got involved with so many of the veterans' things, and so I'm now an ambassador for blind and disabled golf for veterans and first responders. And so, you know, my Foundation always raised money and then I donated it to things, but I still had so many people wanting to learn golf when they came back from war that were disabled and did have a lot of prosthetics or, you know, they were so depressed. And so I just got so hooked on it and, you know, they're young. Most of them are young and really vibrant people and that have always been involved in sports or athletic endeavors, and it was like, you know, we've got to do something for them. So I bought this golf course and I hired… everybody that works for me is a military veteran or parents of military and, you know, it's just been so fun. I mean once a month, I do a clinic, and they'll come out, and I tell you, they're so appreciative and they've just got a great attitude. I mean, everybody thanks me for giving and it's like no, no, I'm getting more out of this because it is really rewarding.
Jim Moore (10:12):
Jan Stephenson is with us here on The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe. She'll be competing in the Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup, June 7th and 8th at the White Horse Golf Club in Kingston and then going back to Pebble Beach on June 10th, elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame this year. Okay Jan, I turned 62 in June, and I was sitting there as I was coming in today, and I thought wow, I'm going to ask you a question about older golfers and what we can do to maintain some distance in our game because I have this fear that pretty soon, these par fours are going to be like par fives for me, so what can you do to help?
Jan Stephenson (10:47):
(laughs) Well, that's exactly the way I feel. I just drove back from Orlando where my coach is, and I just said to him, you know, "What happened to my 30-year highs? Where is it?" It seems like every year it gets worse. I mean 62, you're a baby so you've got a few more years, but let me tell you, when you turn 65, it changes drastically. It's horrible. (laughs) But that being said, I have to say that - I would say yoga. The two things I think that have really helped is yoga, and you know what they say is you got to try to keep your arm speed up because you lose your fast-twitch muscles, and you're fortunate because you're a male and they keep their fast-twitch longer than women do, but you've got to do fast things. So every time I see the long drive champions, I ask what they do, you know, and they always say that they crouch down and then do jumping squats to keep their fast-twitch muscles going. So that's the only thing I can tell you. That's what the long drive guys tell me to do.
Jim Moore (11:50):
(laughs) Okay. I'm definitely going to give yoga a try. And then so it's not going to surprise you to hear that I'm old school when it comes to… I'm still not used to the pins being in on the greens, and it bothers me. I just think it's weird. But am I out to lunch on that?
Jan Stephenson (12:11):
No, no, you know what, I played in an event yesterday, and they were keeping them in, and I'm like no, and then I looked at all the statistics of what they say, you know, supposedly, if it hits the pin, it still has a better chance of going in. But we did one, and they were like, "Oh, we'll leave the pin in," and they've hit the pin and there was wind blowing, and it gusted towards me, and the ball came out, and I went "That's a perfect example of what I'm saying." The only way it would help, and this is kind of like when I've always played on the fringe, is you know, if I'm putting downhill and I'm off the green, I would always leave it in because that's a time when it could get away from you and speed. But when I'm four, five, even twelve feet away, I'd be shocked if my speed was that far off that I needed the pin to stop it. And so I actually think it hurts to have it in inside 12 feet.
Shon Crewe (13:08):
I was going to say I played yesterday as well, and I noticed that visually, it just felt odd. I mean, it was fine farther out, but as I got closer in, ten, six feet, it just felt uncomfortable like it didn't make sense to me. So I don't know.
Jan Stephenson (13:21):
Yeah, Shon, because it feels like it's in the way, you know. How many times when you're practicing on the putting green, you see people pull the pin out when they're putting - for no reason? And because it feels like there's not enough holes to sit there. But you know, you talk to someone like Adam Scott, and he said he helps him line up, but of course, he's not a great short putter anyway, I guess. But I just feel like it's only good if your speed could get away on you. I mean I'm always going to take it out inside 12 feet, but if I was downhill, again, I would probably leave it in in case it got away from me, but I would never leave it in going uphill because if it hits the pin, it's going to go back down the hill.
Shon Crewe (14:01):
Yeah. No, I'm with you on that. Well, Jan Stephenson's with us now, giving us some tips on flag pin in. So not only are you busy, I mean you're already busy enough, and I know you've got some big stuff coming up, but I am curious because there were some rumors about you and a movie, and Margot Robbie potentially playing you. What's going on with that? Any news or anything happening on that front?
Jan Stephenson (14:25):
Well, the writers, we finished about two years ago actually, and you know, we've had a few problems with it because they want to finish in 1982 and I feel like," Wow, I've got like the rest of my life that's not in there." But they did say well if it was good enough, we could do a sequel, and I'm like oh, and so my book probably will obviously go further. It may actually start where the movie finishes. But they want to really talk more about my Australian life and then changing the image of the whole tour, which is you know, a big, important part of the LPGA in the '70s.
And so they called and really excited about a year ago because Rachel McAdams was going to play me because she looked a lot like me and she was small, and she had kind of a Canadian accent, but her accent really couldn't get to Australian, and there's so much of it that was Australian that they were concerned. And plus they said this needs to be someone that can actually, you know, portray Australian and be a little younger. And so they said, "We've had a call from Margot Robbie's husband, and he's a producer," and I'm like, "Oh, okay." I mean of course, I knew Margot when she was… you know, she played in a lot of our soap operas in Australia on the TV shows. So I've seen her grow up since she was like 12. Then so I'm like, "Oh, okay." And then they went, "No, she's actually becoming a superstar." I said, "No, I know exactly who she is."
And then I didn't hear much more, you know, and we kinda keep tweaking with the script, and they said, "You know, Margot wants to change a lot of the script," and I'm like, "Well if she's not the one playing it?" And then next thing I know, the writers were flying to Australia because Margot wanted this to be an all-woman deal, so she wanted to have a woman director who was doing a movie so they flew down there and met her and she loved the script. But Margot is concerned that if she does it know, she's going to be known as kind of a character actress because she's already done I, Tonya, she's done Queen of Scots, so she wants to put some movies between that and this movie for a long time. So I was like, "Well, I'm ready to get this done while I'm still around to see it, and all the people that know me are still around." And so she's actually still very interested, and I know that they have bought the rights to it, they've asked for an extension. So I'm pretty confident that something good is going to happen from it.
Jim Moore (16:51):
Well, Jan, do you think they'll be a scene where she'll get into a bathtub and have golf balls covering her up?
Jan Stephenson (16:57):
(laughs) Oh, I'm sure she will, except that one I don't think happened till like '85, but I'm sure they won't be that exact on time. That's pretty funny. (laughs)
Jim Moore (17:09):
And I'm reading too that you recreated that scene in 2017, just a couple of years ago. What did you think of that whole deal?
Jan Stephenson (17:18):
Well, actually, I was teasing about it because it was one of those ones where I said, "You know, we need a lot more golf balls and a bigger tub," 'cause I was like 50 pounds lighter back then. And so they were laughing about that, and it was really hard for me to do, but it was fun. I mean everybody made kind of light of it.
Jim Moore (17:38):
All right, Jan. Hey, thank you very much for joining us today. It's been a true pleasure, and I really enjoyed watching you play and looking forward to seeing you up here in Seattle at the Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup.
Jan Stephenson (17:49):
Thank you, Jim. Thanks, Shon.
Jim Moore (17:51):
That's Jan Stephenson, and just to clarify, hey, why's Moore asking her about golf balls in the tub. She had a famous picture back in the early '80s when she was in the bathtub, and she was covered with golf balls. And we're excited to see her here at the Suquamish Clearwater Legends Club coming up Friday and Saturday at White Horse. It's The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe, 710 ESPN Seattle.
2019 marks the second consecutive year that Stephenson will be competing in the Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup presented by Boeing at the White Horse Golf Club in Kingston. To learn more about Jan's many business endeavors, including her award-winning rums and wines, and Palm Harbor, Florida golf course Tarpon Woods, visit https://www.janstephenson.com.