George Archer keeps on driving
By NATHAN R. HUFF
COYOTE CREEK – The majority of the American golfers probably have no clue where Gilroy, California is located. But ask them who “The Gilroy Cowboy” is, and you’ll get a quick answer – former Gilroyan George Archer.
The San Francisco born hustler-turned Master’s Champion is forever known by the moniker he garnered during his 25 years living in the garlic capital. And for the next week, Archer is back in the town that gave him his nickname, staying with his daughter Lynne and playing in the second-annual Siebel Classic at Coyote Creek Golf Course.
Standing on the 18th tee during Wednesday’s ProAm precursor to the Senior PGA Tour event, the 62-year-old Archer displays a keen sense of humor, despite playing poorly in the cold, windy conditions. Facing three days on a tough course under inclement weather, Archer outlines his strategy.
“Survive, don’t die,” says Archer, who splits time between Incline Village and Palm Springs. “My old body is just not made for this. This weather is hard on me, but it’s hard on all the old guys.”
A “Super Senior” by the tour’s age standards, Archer has endured seven major surgeries in his career, including hip replacement. Despite the health problems, he boasts 19 Senior Tour victories and 12 PGA victories, including the 1969 Master’s Tournament. At 6 feet, 6 inches, Archer is the tallest player ever to win the Master’s.
Archer got off to a hot start this year, winning the Super Senior Royal Caribbean Classic and ended tied for sixth at the Senior PGA SBC Senior Classic, his first top ten finish on the senior tour since 2000.
But Archer admits his years on the tour are numbered. “The problem is the cup’s not big enough. It keeps getting smaller every year,” he jokes, straight-faced. “I just go week by week. I don’t have any plans – just live life and enjoy myself.”
Archer is all but guaranteed an enjoyable week, no matter where he finishes in the tournament. His daughter Lynne, a special education teacher, is due to give birth to Archer’s sixth grandchild this weekend. Do the grandchildren, the oldest of which is nine, know Archer as the infamous Gilroy Cowboy?
“No, I’m just grandpa,” he says.
If grandpa does win a share of the tournament’s $1.4 million purse, he says it’s likely the new grandchild will receive a late baby shower gift, but Archer can’t guarantee anything.
“My wife gets the check,” he says. “You know the chain of command.”
Before meeting his wife, Donna, on the golf course 40 years ago, Archer was a caddy at Peninsula Country Club near San Francisco. Spending countless hours honing his skills, the young man was known for making a healthy side income hustling Country Club regulars. But those days are over, Archer says.
“I’m too old to hustle,” he says. “I can’t beat anybody.”
Coyote Creek Head Pro Steve Janisch disagrees. Archer’s caddy from 1979-1984, Janisch says The Gilroy Cowboy can still score if his legendary putter gets hot.
“George can still play. He’s had some good events this year,” said Janisch, who usually plays a round or two with Archer when he comes through town. “If he gets that putter going, he can still scare some people.”