Mark Calcavecchia talks with Shon about being a major champion, the career longevity in golf that he never imagined, and life on the road with wife Brenda and dogs Brutus and Lucie.
The Golf Show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Shon Crewe (00:04):
He’s a major champion with 29 professional wins spanning a nearly 40-year career. He'll be competing at the 2019 Boeing Classic August 23rd through the 25th at the Golf Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. Mark Calcavecchia joins us now on the Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe. Mark, thanks so much for taking the time today.
M. Calcavecchia (00:21):
Hey guys, it's my pleasure to be with you.
Shon Crewe (00:24):
I want to start off talking about you and your wife Brenda, and this incredible tour bus that you have for getting around from tournament to tournament. I understand that she is not a big fan of flying, so this is how you decided that you would travel. I'm curious though, how long have you been doing it? It certainly looks like you two are having a blast.
M. Calcavecchia (00:42):
We are having a blast. We've been doing it ten years now and we seem to get a different bus about every three years on average. But, they've kind of all had their own personality. And then, this last one we got, we really decided we loved it and we wanted to continue to do that. And, you know, there's a few things, a few rules, that, you know, have to work. Number one, you know, I have to, the golfer, the player has to be wanting to do all the driving. And you know, that's what slowed down a lot of other players. I know some other guys on our tour where we're looking into it, but they just, you know, they asked me about the driving and, you know, it can get to be a lot.
M. Calcavecchia (01:30):
So, luckily I've just my whole life I've, I've driven everywhere. So you know, I love, I love seeing different parts of our country and we love having the dogs with us. It's truly a home on wheels and Brenda is a great cook. So, the dogs don't mind being on the bus when we're out at the golf course. So even if we're gone for seven or eight hours at a time, there's usually no accidents when we come back and everybody is happy as can be.
Shon Crewe (02:00):
Well, we're big dog fans on the show, so I know about Lucy and Brutus. I actually got a kick out of the fact that Lucy likes honking the horn on the bus.
M. Calcavecchia (02:08):
Lucy loves to the honk the horn. She thinks that's the funniest thing ever. It's like a toy to her. And when the bus is actually running, which occasionally, you know, we leave it running and I gotta run out and check a door or something because when we get ready to leave my dashboard will give me a warning sign if one of my cargo doors isn't shut tight or you know, something. So every once in a while I gotta run outside and check this or check something else out and then she'll just run right into my seat and just lean on the horn. And that's happened on occasion at about five in the morning when we're leaving a campground. So that's a little embarrassing, but I'm sure she's woken up a few neighbors over the years.
Shon Crewe (02:58):
As you mentioned, you've probably gotta love driving, but I would think if you do, there's probably something therapeutic about getting out and driving on the open road and just kind of seeing the country from a different perspective perhaps then when you'd be flying.
M. Calcavecchia (03:10):
Well, it's just so nice not to have to you know, rush when you're done playing and, you know, pack your clubs in the parking lot and go to the airport and sit there for three hours and wait for a flight that you hope is on time. You know, and, or get up at the crack of dawn the next morning and you know, fly home two days later, fly back to, to the next tournament or wherever, so you know, we've got everything imaginable on that bus. So it's, you know, you always feel like you know, it's part of your home to some degree. My wife is a kind of a picky sleeper. So even when we do fly, she brings her own sheets. So you know, something like that, something like that is kinda important to her, you know, because you know, you get your own pillow and your sheets and you know, all your entertainment, and your wine and your food, and refrigerator and washer and dryer, the whole deal.
M. Calcavecchia (04:11):
So it's just kind of nice to just get in and go as far as we want. And then even during weeks off we'll go, "Okay, where do you want to go?" So we can just kind of just pick a direction and find a cool place to go, whether it be a few months ago we went to Nebraska and hung out for a week and a half and then went up to South Dakota to the Black Hills and Deadwood and whatnot and Mount Rushmore. So you know, it's just stuff like that. That's just kind of why we have it. It just makes it a lot of fun to be able to do stuff like that, that you would never otherwise get around to doing.
Shon Crewe (04:51):
Mark Calcavecchia is with us on the Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe. He'll be competing at the 2019 Boeing Classic August 23rd through the 25th at the Golf Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. Mark, I imagine that it's one thing as a young player doing what you can to have the opportunity to play professional golf for a living, but as a young player, first getting started, did you ever imagine this sort of longevity and playing competitively on tour at this point?
M. Calcavecchia (05:14):
I never, I mean when I was young and we moved down to Florida, I grew up in Nebraska and my older brother took me down to see the 1974 Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic. I was 13-years-old. And you know, my mouth just kind was on the ground the whole day, just walking around watching everybody. And I was already a pretty good golfer by then. You know, I just kinda decided this is what I was going to do. You know, and then obviously things worked out well for me and you know, I was able to have a good career in the PGA Tour, but it doesn't always work out that way, obviously for a lot of people. But, you know, I can't believe how fast it's gone by. You know, when I first started on the tour in the early eighties you know, I thought, I'm 59 now,
M. Calcavecchia (6:03):
I thought somebody that was 59 was, you know, nearly ready for you know, a retirement home or something. So I never dreamed I'd still be playing, you know, professional golf on a competitive basis. Back then there wasn't even a senior tour. So, you know, I just didn't think didn't think much of it. And then, you know, once the Senior Tour kind of came about in the middle eighties, you know, thanks to the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Miller Barber and Don January, and those guys you know, then it was kind of more just like exhibition golf. But as I said, as time went on and then you know, Jack started playing a lot and Arnie kinda did what he did and did his thing, when I got to my forties, my early forties, and I'm like, shoot, I'm only 10 years from the Senior Tour. And then I started actually honestly thinking about it and I think that's when a lot of guys on tour, when they, when they turn 40, they go, well, shoot only 10 more years to the Senior Tour. So it definitely comes into your mind.
Shon Crewe (07:12):
Having longevity in a sports career is probably more likely today than it's ever been. But as a professional golfer, aside from playing well, what do you think has been the key to why you've been able to do this so well for so long?
M. Calcavecchia (07:25):
Well, I certainly never overwork myself, let's put it that way. I played a lot, but you know, the way these kids go at the ball today and as hard as they swing, I just don't know if they're going to be able to hold up until they get to 50 years old, number one. You know, my case and a lot of the guys that I'm playing with now that were in my era, you know, we just kinda did our thing. Nobody ever hurt themselves working out certainly, which happens all the time now. Cause that wasn't the case in the eighties or even the nineties either. So I just think that we just kinda went with the flow, you know, and kinda took things as they came and, and just let time pass and enjoyed it.
M. Calcavecchia (08:12):
And you know, the next thing, you know, you're 50, and it's definitely something to look forward to. I know a lot of my friends are 48, 49, almost 50 years old, that they can't wait to come out and play and then really, really looking forward to it. But, you know, it's our tour, everybody's got a little bit, some sort of nagging injury, which is kinda funny if you walk up and down the range and, and we'll just, you can just ask any given player, "What hurts on you today?", You know? And it could be, could be entirely something different that hurt the day before. But it's kind of funny because everybody's got little aches and pains, but we just keep plugging away and keep playing.
Shon Crewe (08:49):
I was gonna say, I think that's everyday life now. I feel like anybody I know, as we're all getting older, there's always something. Right? Well, what do you think about the schedule now for the PGA tour? I guess there's a lot more going on now for these players. Is that part of the problem? Are there too many events?
M. Calcavecchia (09:04):
Yeah, it's kinda weird that you know, here we are in basically early August and there's only three tournaments left to the season. I really don't like this wrap around schedule they have. You know, where the season ends in August and then the, you know, 2019-2020 season will start in a month. So, there's now there's 11 more tournaments at the end of the year to start off next year’s season. And you know, then once March gets here, then all of a sudden, boom, you've got the Player's Championship and then the PGA is now in May. And then World Golf events. And I think it makes it difficult for a younger guy or even a, you know, a guy that's kind of coming up out of the Web.com or now the Korn Ferry tour to get over the hump and get some momentum and play good. Either you really don't see that many guys with exception of a few super talented kids do that well coming off the Korn Ferry Tour.
Shon Crewe (10:10):
Mark Calcavecchia with us on The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe. Well, it's the 30th anniversary of you winning The Open Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland. You've said that this win was one of the greatest golfing days in your life. I'm sure your first major win always holds a special place. We just witnessed Shane Lowry doing it at home a few weeks ago. Perhaps it's even more special knowing that there just aren't many people who get a chance to experience the same thing in their lifetime.
M. Calcavecchia (10:34):
You know, winning a major is just, it's so much different and so much bigger than winning a regular tour event. You know, winning feels good at any age and, and winning feels good, winning any sort of tournament, but you know, when you win a major. And I look at this replica of the Claret Jug behind me here in my theater. It's something that I've done that I'm part of, part of history and something that I've, that I'm known for. So and they can't ever take it away from you. So, you know, and Shane Lowry's case, obviously he's had an incredibly great time the last two weeks partying and whatnot. But as you know, time goes on and, you know, 20 or 30 years from now, maybe when he's thinking about you know, when he's close to 60 years old and whether he's still playing or not, you know, he'll go, "Damn, I won the, I won the British open in my home country", you know, and it just, it'll be the coolest thing that he ever did. So it's just something that you always have in your memory banks.
Shon Crewe (11:36):
Knowing that this has been cemented as one of your greatest golfing experiences, is there another moment in your career that perhaps stands out as the next best? Something else that maybe over the years that you look back and say that, you know, that you're proud that you've achieved it?
M. Calcavecchia (11:51):
I've had, you know, being on the Ryder Cup teams were great, winning three Phoenix Opens where I also had a home and where my kids were born, you know, it was great. I think probably my next biggest window or my next favorite win would have probably been the 2005 Canadian Open on a really, really tough golf course by the name of Shaughnessy, up in Vancouver. And the reason I say that is because at that time I was 45 and you just don't see many 45-year-olds winning tournaments. You know, with the exception of a few - Vijay Singh, and then some of these other guys, Steve Stricker, whatnot. But and it was on just a brutal course. You know, very kinda U.S. Open-ish, with lots of deep rough and small hard greens, the whole deal. So winning that tournament at that point in my career. And it's another, you know, it's a national open, so again, it did kind of feel like a U.S. Open and I'm kind of an honorary Canadian. They love me up there. I've won three times in Canada, so it's my second favorite country obviously other than here at home. But that was probably my second favorite one.
Shon Crewe (13:07):
Well, yeah, and speaking of that tournament, you have the record for most birdies in a row from that tournament. What was it - nine consecutive holes?
M. Calcavecchia (13:12):
Shon Crewe (13:12):
So yes, you must love it up there and no wonder they love you.
M. Calcavecchia (13:17):
Yeah, it must be the beer. I don't know. A lot of good things happened in Canada.
Shon Crewe (13:22):
All right, well you're back here in the Pacific Northwest in a couple of weeks to compete at the Boeing Classic. You won the tournament back in 2011, which happened to be your first Champions Tour win. We're definitely excited to have you back. How are you feeling coming into the tournament?
M. Calcavecchia (13:36):
I feel pretty good. I've been dodging the rain showers here at home the last few weeks and I've got some good rest in, but I should be playing pretty good here at home. So we have a tournament next week in Endicott the week before, New York, the week before we get to the Boeing Classic. And, you know, obviously when you come back to a city/course where you've won and had success, you always look forward to it. And I always look forward to that one. I enjoy staying in Bellevue and I like I don't mind the drive back and forth out to the golf course because I like listening to music and whatnot. And I've just had some great times there. I've seen the Boeing plant, I've seen the Pearl Jam studios and factory where they keep everything. So that was cool. So I've had a lot of fun opportunities to do stuff. And again, the weather's usually perfect the time of year we play there. It's nice and cool at night and not too hot in the day time. So just everything about it makes it a fun week for me.
Shon Crewe (14:43):
Your wife Brenda caddies for you. Will she be on your bag when you're here?
M. Calcavecchia (14:47):
Actually this year she's not coming. She kind of every other year is there. I do have a friend in the Pacific Northwest who actually the year I won caddied for me who I grew up with down here in Jupiter, Florida and he ended up moving out there to work for Boeing for 25 or some odd years. And actually now he works for a guy on the PGA Tour. But he's injured. So his name's Rick Harris. He's actually back in Seattle for the rest of the summer or the rest of the year rather. So, he asked if he could caddie for me. And Brenda, my wife, just got a real estate license down here in Florida, in Jupiter. So, she's pretty busy, so she's actually gonna take a rare, few weeks off and miss Seattle and the following week playing Calgary. So I'll miss her for sure. She gets a little bit tired of caddying for me. Also, she does a great job and she loves when we're out on the road in the bus as I stated, but it's kind of a long flight out there, obviously from Florida, so she'll take a few weeks off.
Shon Crewe (16:03):
All right, well, we're looking forward to seeing you here in a couple of weeks. Very best of luck to you then. And thanks again for taking the time today. It's been such a pleasure talking with you, Mark.
M. Calcavecchia (16:12):
My pleasure, Shon. I can't wait to get out there. Thank you.
Calcavecchia is set to compete at the 15th annual Boeing Classic, August 19-25, at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. In 2011, Calcavecchia beat out Russ Cochran in a sudden-death playoff to win the 7th annual Boeing Classic and claim his first PGA TOUR Champions title.