Jerry West hits hole in one in Lakers' charity golf tournament
As a way to temper his anxiety, frustration and competitive fire over basketball, Jerry West often hit the golf course.
With little pressure to succeed on the links and no attention accompanying the former Lakers star, West has often found golf to be a worthy outlet. His perfectionist nature and competitive spirit surely kicks in, so one can only imagine the stress West felt when he participated in the Lakers’ golf tournament Monday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
But, hey, they don't call him Mr. Clutch for nothing. West hit an 8-iron 138 yards on the 16th hole for what Lakers forward Pau Gasol believed was West’s fourth hole in one.
"He plays pretty often," said Gasol, who played for Memphis when West was the team's general manager. “He’s very competitive, as we all know."
The hole in one came with a prize. Lakers spokesman John Black said that the tournament, which raised more than $200,000 for the Lakers Youth Foundation, reserved prizes for golfers who finished with hole in ones. They included a car for 4th and 14th hole, a $12,000 watch for the 6th hole and two Lakers tickets for the 16th hole, meaning West originally won a prize he could easily score, being the team's former GM and all. West traded the tickets for the watch. Black said West then donated the $12,000 watch and signed the golf ball worth $8,000 to the Lakers Youth Foundation for its live auction.
Did West beat himself up that he did it on the wrong hole?
"Yes," Black said, laughing. "He didn't sleep all night."
Given West's comments last month as the Northern Trust Open's executive director, it wouldn't be surprising if that were true.
"We've always said this is one of the hardest games there is," West said. "It was devised by the devil, by the way. It takes incredible discipline to play this game."
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Photo: Jerry West. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times