There a few ways that an athlete can earn a nickname. A boxer may be encouraged to come up with a title for press purposes, but the average golf pro makes their name through an iconic style of play or a single moment of greatness.
More often than not, nicknames are bestowed by others. For example, the NFL’s Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton got his nickname for being the opposite of sweet during practice. Meanwhile, the NHL’s Wayne Gretzky became known as ‘The Great One’ for being just that.
But in other competitions, like eSports and professional poker, players choose their own nicknames. Perusing a list of the most famous nicknames in online poker, for example, yields a list of complex nicknames that may be harder to break down. There’s Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow and Howard ‘The Professor’ Lederer, both of which were thought up by friends and stuck.
Golf, despite its slow pace and emphasis on technical skill, has a wide range of vibrant personalities. From Phil ‘Lefty’ Mickelson to Juan ‘Chi Chi’ Rodriguez, it’s clear that fans prefer nicknames that are a bit cheeky—and why not? It spices up the game.
Let’s take a look at five of the best nicknames in golf today.
Brittany Lincicome is one of the most consistent pros in the LPGA Tour. With eight total wins (Kraft Nabisco Championship and ANA Inspiration), Lincicome has accrued a strong following over the years.
However, she’s most known for her powerful drives beginning in her rookie year. Only one year into her professional career, her driving power made her the second-longest average driver in the LPGA. At this time, fans and broadcasters started calling her Bam-Bam.
As one of the strongest presences in the PGA Tour today, Dustin Johnson will be remembered for his feats for years to come. He’s tallied 24 PGA Tour wins, along with nine European Tour titles. In 2020, he gained even more notoriety for placing first at the Masters and second at the PGA Championship.
So why do they call him the Cheetah? Fellow PGA pro Nick Watney bestowed the title because of Johnson’s gait. However, his style of play also reflects the grace of the cheetah, as well as its quick striking power. Though some commentators and fans refer to him as DJ, it’s a bit too average for this pro.
Few nicknames (or pros) are as controversial as Bryson DeChambeau. Last year, he covertly changed his game plan, opting to pack on around 50 pounds of muscle. The idea was to extend his long drive game, which would lessen the demands of his short game.
Though some prefer to call DeChambeau a meathead for his bulk, it seems like pundits are sticking with The Scientist. Though he may seem too focused on brawn, in-depth statistical analysis fueled his plan to change his approach to long drives.
With a name like Fred Funk, there was no need to give this pro a nickname. As one of the most interesting characters playing the PGA Tour Champions, pundits continue to follow the golfer—though only in part to follow his gameplay. With seven PGA Tour wins, the Chicken Hawk is largely remembered for his endearing personality.
Honorable Mention: The (Great White) Shark
There are few golfers as iconic as the retired Greg Norman. He’s spent over a year as the Number 1 ranked golfer in the world, nabbing twenty PGA Tour tournaments and two majors in the course of his 89-tournament career.
He’s also well-known for his business exploits post-PGA. His Greg Norman Company covers projects related to interior design, real estate, golf course design, and private equity. Even off the course, he’s got the aggressive mentality of a shark.
In fact, that was how he earned his nickname at a 1981 tournament. In addition to his aggressive style of play, fans and pundits also drew on his Australian heritage and his large size, landing on The Shark.