In the Bahamas, only the waves—rising, curling, crashing—are more consistent and more predictable than Lee Trevino's controlled fades. On this sun-drenched Friday afternoon every ball he strikes curves gently from left to right. While leisurely launching shot after shot toward the flags of the Ocean Club practice range, Lee dispenses fatherly guidance to his son Tony, who's thrashing at practice Pinnacles with a runty, snub-nosed ironwood that looks as if it belongs in a carpenter's tool kit.
"What the hell is that club?" asks Dad. "It's uglier than one of my old girlfriends."
Tony smiles, picks up a five-iron and continues thrashing at a flag 160 yards away. His shots don't fade, however. Caught in a 30-mph headwind pushed by Hurricane Olga, they twist and crook in every direction but flagward. "Flex your knees," counsels Lee, the self-styled king of the lowball. "When you finish your swing, your knees should be together."
Tony nods, flexes and swings. His popup lands 30 feet from the flag.
"Now force your five-iron to the ball with your lower torso," says Lee, "and flip the club like a wedge."
Tony nods, forces, flips. His flare drops 10 feet closer to the flag.
Tenderly, the 62-year-old Senior tour pro clasps the shoulders of the 32-year-old club pro, looks into his eyes and tells him to get a grip. "Pretend you're holding a tube of toothpaste without a top on it," Lee says. "Remember: When you swing, I don't want to see that s—-squirt out."
Tony nods, relaxes his hands and swings without squirting. The ball cuts a lovely, low arc and stops within two feet of the flag. "Gorgeous, son!" says Lee, beaming. "But somehow I know that tomorrow you'll disregard everything I've told you and change back to your old ways."
In this case tomorrow was the opening round of the annual Father/Son Challenge, a $919,000 tournament in which 14 pros, all former winners of major championships, team with a son in a 36-hole scramble. With six majors in his pocket, Trevino has been a mainstay of the Challenge since its inception in 1995, yet he has never finished better than fourth with either Tony or Tony's older half brother, Rick, also a teaching pro. This year the old man's driving-range prophecy was all too accurate. Both Tony and Lee came undone as Team Trevino placed dead last, 11 strokes behind winners Raymond and Robert Floyd.
Lee shrugs off the sorry showings. "No matter where I finish, this tournament is one of my favorites," he says. "Truth is, it's more special for me than it is for any of the other fathers competing." He flashes a smile that's broad and diabolical. "One thing I like about the Challenge is that there are no girlfriends, no daughters, no wives. In fact, no broads are allowed. Of course, if we run into any, that's another story."