KG inducted into Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame on 3-27-11
3-26-11: “Golfer Ken Green will Join Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday Night”
By Edgar Thompson, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
If Ken Green could take a mulligan with his golf career, he would jump at the chance. Green treasures his 5 PGA Tour wins in a 5-year span (1985-89) and his experience at the 1989 Ryder Cup. But he regrets some of the on-course antics that led the Tour to fine him two dozen times – “I had a habit of throwing clubs in bodies of water,” he jokes – and losing prime years to a difficult divorce that left him clinically depressed.
But taking everything into account, Green has had a successful and memorable career. Sunday night he will be inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame. ”Any time you’re recognized, if you’re not honored, you need to look within yourself,” said Green, who played at Palm Beach Junior College in the 1970s and has lived in the area. “That’s part of the allure of competition, for someone to tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘That’s really nice playing,’ or in this case: ‘You’ve had a really nice career. We’re proud you’re part of Palm Beach County.’ ”
Green, 52, said he welcomes a pat on the back whenever he can get it, whether for his golf career or the courage he has shown in the face of adversity. “That’s what keeps me going,” he said.
Some days, Green needs to find a reason. In less than 2 years, Green has lost his brother, son, girlfriend, dog, health and his golf game. In June 2009, Green was seriously injured when a tire blew on his motor home near Meridian, Miss., causing the vehicle to veer off the road and hit a tree. Green’s brother William, girlfriend Jeannie Hodgin and German shepherd Nip were killed in the accident, and Green’s lower right leg had to be amputated because of his injuries. In January 2010, Green’s estranged son Hunter died of a drug overdose in Dallas. Green has tried to throw his energies into golf to compete on the Champions Tour. But the nerve damage in his leg has made it difficult for him to play more than 6 times a month.
“It’s like putting your hand in a socket,” he said. “It’s constant. It’s just a matter of what level it is. Some levels are so bad I have nothing but tears.” When he does play, Green still can shoot 70 to 75 on The Breakers Rees Jones Course – his home course for 20 years. “For me to be playing as well as I am is pretty amazing,” he said. “But to try to play at the Champions Tour level, it’s not even close. I’m starting to be a realist and understand my playing golf days are numbered.” Green’s scoring average was 75.4 in 3 Champions Tour events in 2010. Green is a talented bowler who once rolled a 300 game, but his average is down to 185 – 35 pins fewer than before his injury. “I used to be really good at two things. Now I stink at both, and it really sucks,” he said. “But all you can do is keep trying.”
Green recovered from depression to earn back his Tour card through qualifying school in 2002, heroically saved Nip from the jaws of an alligator in 2003 and endured the recent avalanche of personal tragedy. Of this, he is proud. “There’s a time I don’t think Ken Green could have done that,” he said.
The Post is profiling new members of the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, who will be inducted Sunday night at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Tickets are sold out.
PHOTO: Ken Green (right) gets a hug from his sister, Shelly White, after sinking a birdie putt on the 15th hole [partnering with Mike Reid] during the first round of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament on Friday, April 23, 2010, in Savannah, Ga.