Dan Simpson has been the head pro at Minneapolis Golf Club for 18 years. There weren’t many days when the course was open that he failed to see Bud Chapman, first practicing for an hour, then teeing off at 11:30 a.m. with Dr. Bob Gill and added players.
“Everybody wanted to play with Bud, young and old,’’ Simpson said Saturday. “He loved this club and everyone loved him.”
MGC reopened on July 1 after being closed since late July 2019 for an extensive grass project. Bud practiced the first four days it was open, wasn’t looking like the usual Bud, and then had a mild heart attack.
Chapman, 97, was released, suffered another heart attack, was back in the hospital and died Thursday.
Simpson has endless Chapman stories but one main observation: “Bud enjoyed every minute of every day of every month of every year. He absolutely enjoyed life.”
Chapman was an artist and became famous in the golf world with drawings of fantasy holes located at some of this planet’s greatest natural wonders. He could crack you up with tales of calls from adventurous golfers, looking for the Victoria Falls Golf Club in Zimbabwe, in order to play the par-3 over the notorious falls that was No. 1 for Bud’s “Infamous 18.”
Chapman would not chide but rather empathize with these naive travelers. That was his nature.
“Bud was a tremendous player, but never a golf snob,’’ Gill said. “He would play with anybody, and with encouragement.”
Even for Gill, his daily partner. “Like most people, I’d get a little quick on the tee at times,” he said. “After a couple of those, Bud would say softly and slowly: ‘Bah-bbbb, take, time, to, enjoy, the, swing.’
“Bud was a beautiful person.”
• Chapman spent many winters in the Tampa Bay area and played at Seminole Lake.
• Chapman perfected using extra-long drivers — building the length to 56 inches — in order to maintain his distance as a super senior.
• Dr. Gill: “When the USGA banned long drivers but still allowed long putters, Bud wrote to the USGA, dinging them with, ‘I’m going to declare my driver a putter.’ Idle threat, of course, because Bud was a golf purist.’’
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