<strong>LOGAN—</strong> With 51 career PGA Tour victories, three major championships, and two PGA Tour Player of the Year awards, Billy Casper was one of the greatest and most underrated players of his time.
Now more or less retired, the legend of golf finds himself even busier than ever as he travels to fundraisers, has speaking engagements, and recently released a book: “The Big Three and Me.”
“I have a very, very busy schedule. I’m actually busier now than when I was playing,” Casper said.
Though he was born in San Diego, Casper now lives in Utah – his adopted home – at a place in Springville the majority of the year. The past couple of days, however, he has been in Cache Valley helping the Logan Regional Hospital Foundation earn money through a charity dinner at Logan River Golf Course and a 4-man scramble tournament at Birch Creek Golf Course.
“I do probably 10 to 15 charity events a year in which I do just what I’m doing today – take pictures, visit with people, and get to know them. It’s very rewarding for me and enriches my life, and I hope it’s a two way street,” Casper said. “I don’t think we can do enough for our young people with what’s going on in the world today. They need a lot of help.”
Casper, along with his wife Shirley, has always had a love for children. According to Casper’s book, it was that love and family bond that led he and his family to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Jan. 1, 1966.
On the golf course, Casper sits seventh on the PGA Tour’s all-time wins list. He trails just Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and Byron Nelson in career victories. Three of those victories were majors, as he won the 1959 and 1966 U.S. Open, and the1970 Masters.
Casper may be best remembered for that 1966 U.S. Open win at the Olympic Club where he overcame a 7-shot deficit to Palmer on the back nine holes to force a playoff – he then beat Palmer in an 18-hole playoff the next day.
“It took me 14 years to win a million dollars, now a fellow wins a million dollars every week,” Casper said. “We built the tour for these guys today.”
It is that success that has led Casper to where he is today, and he said he enjoys giving back to others whether through the game of golf or outside of it. His main focus though, is youth – especially the role that golf can play in their lives.
“It’s such a wholesome, clean game that youngsters can get involved in, and they’ve got such wonderful programs for the youth,” Casper said. “The First Tee program is very good, and there’s a number of good, strong junior golf programs.”
Along with his charitable events, he also helps design and manage golf courses across the country, and has done so in 30 different states. He also works with the Crystal Cruise line where he makes appearances at least once a year. Casper said he even still finds time to fit in a round or two, playing with grandkids or even making an appearance at a Pro-Am or two.
“(I have) a lot of requests for my time, and now that the book is out, I’m doing a lot of book signings in different parts of the country,” Casper said. “It’s been a very exciting and rewarding time of my life.”