Classic Swing Golf School – Champagne Tony

Hello golf fans, welcome to another Classic Swing Golf School blog from Dan DeFreest.

Over the years, golf has had its share of characters, few more colorful than “Champagne” Tony Lima.

Like many golfers of the past, Tony Lima grew up in poverty and learned the game of golf as a caddie at a municipal course in his home town of Oakland California. His father died when he was just three years old and he started caddying to help his mother support the family.

champagne tony

Eventually, Lima became acquainted with Lucius Bateman, a talented African American golfer who taught at a local driving range. Bateman is credited for developing the young Lima’s smooth swing.

After high school, and a stint in the Marines, Lima found work in San Francisco as an assistant club professional and honed his skills enough to join the PGA tour in 1957.

Lima won his first tournament that year memorably; finishing his round, and thinking that he was out of contention, he headed for the club house and knocked down a few drinks. Feeling no pain, he was notified to return to the course for a playoff. Relaxed, Lima won the playoff by three strokes.


Known for having a good time off the course, he received the nickname “Champagne Tony” after once boasting that he would buy champagne for the press if he won, he did…and he did.

Eventually his partying ways took their toll and his winning stopped. In 1962, Lima reached out to fellow tour professionals for help and turned his game around. From 1962 until 1966, he won 12 times including the 1964 British Open.

Tragically, he and his wife were flying to an exhibition in Chicago when the chartered plane they were on crashed. All on board were killed. At the time of his death, Lima was just 32 years old and at the top of his game.

If your winning ways have stopped, or if you just need a tune-up, why not come and see our pros at Classic Swing Golf School in Myrtle Beach? We’ll show you how to have as much fun on the course as you do off it.




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