1975: Lee Trevino is struck by lightning at the Western Open during a weather delay


Lee Trevino, struck by lightning at the Western Open

On this day, In 1975 the PGA Tour was playing the Western Open at Butler National in Oak Brook, Illinois.  As the weather broke, rain caused a delay late in the second round causing half of the field to wait out to finish out their respective holes. Sitting under an umbrella on the 13th green, was the reigning PGA Champion and jokester, Lee Trevino along with playing partner Jerry Heard.  In an instant lightning crashed down on the pair, striking them.  As reports came out, it was noted that 3 others were struck around the course as well.

Trevino was carried by stretcher to an ambulance, which took him and Heard to Hinsdale Sanitarium, where Trevino was reported to be conscious, sitting up, laughing and joking.  Trevino, was burned on his back, Jerry Heard and Bobby Nichols, Jim Ahern, and Tony Jacklin. Heard was burned on his upper right leg and Nichols on his head.

After he was struck by lightning at the 1975 Western Open, Trevino was asked by a reporter what he would do if he were out on the course and it began to storm again. Trevino answered he would take out his 1 iron and point it to the sky, “because not even God can hit the 1-iron.”

Butler National loses the Western Open

The Western Open was moved away from Butler National in 1990 when the PGA Tour adopted a policy of holding events only at clubs which allowed minorities and women to be members. Not only are women banned from being members of Butler National, but they are also prohibited from being guests or even entering the clubhouse. Women are not allowed anywhere on the property.

Josh Morris

Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.

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  1. Lee Trevino was ask by reporter after hitting a long winning putt , did you get nervous knowing that putt was worth a lot of money . He said,” no nervous is when you bet $1000 that you don’t have and you have to win.

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