CHEROKEE VILLAGE, Ark. – Tommy Bolt, the 1958 U.S. Open champion who had one of golf’s sweetest swings and most explosive tempers, has died. He was 92.
His wife, Mary Lou Bolt, said he died Saturday after “his liver shut down.”
“He was the best man I ever knew,” she said Wednesday.
Bolt won 15 Professional Golfers Association events and several more titles on the seniors tour. Yet his temper gained him the most notoriety.
Bolt competed in the Masters Tournament 17 times between 1952 and 1972. His best finish was third in 1952.
Nicknamed “Terrible Tempered Tommy” and “Thunder,” Bolt was often fined and suspended by the PGA Tour for slamming clubs and using abusive language. He set up a special fund from his winnings to pay the fines.
“I’ve busted a few clubs in my time,” Bolt recalled after retiring from the Tour. “I think it’s all right for a man to break his golf clubs, every one in the bag if he wants to. They’re his clubs. He’s the one to suffer.
“As for throwing clubs, that’s something else. That could be dangerous.”
Bolt joined the tour in 1950 and won his first title, the North and South Open, the next year. Bolt won at least one tournament through 1955, a year he won four times.
In 1958, he won the U.S. Open by four strokes over 22-year-old Gary Player. He also won the Colonial Open that year. His last PGA win came at the Pensacola Open in 1961.
Bolt enjoyed success in the seniors ranks. He won the U.S. National Seniors Open five times, the PGA Seniors, and the 1978 Australian Seniors.
“I’m converted,” he said about his calm demeanor on the course. “I’m sweet as pie now.”
Bolt served overseas with the Army during World War II. Survivors include a son, Thomas Walker Bolt.