Spagnola shedding his 'title'
The Giant Eagle store owner says he's gotten better over the years.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Angelo Spagnola no longer considers himself "America's Worst Golfer." He says that he's almost mediocre now.
Spagnola, who won that title in 1985 in a tournament held by Golf Digest magazine when he shot 257 strokes for 18 holes including a 66 on the famed "island green" 17th hole, was at Squaw Creek Country Club on Tuesday.
Spagnola, who is an owner of a Giant Eagle store in the Pittsburgh area, took part in the Butler Wick Corporation Celebrity Shootout. His team finished third out of five.
"I'm still not very good, but I have improved over the years," Spagnola said. "I'd say that I'm nearing mediocre."
Still amazes him: Spagnola said that he's still amazed at what he did in that Golf Digest tournament back in 1985.
"I was really having a bad day, even for me," he said. "When we got to the 17th hole, I started hitting them left, then right, then short.
"After about 10 or 12 balls in the water, my caddie said 'Angelo, you don't have to do this, you can putt the ball up the path and over the bridge and get it on the green.' "
"I looked at him and said, 'That's not the way the game is suppose to be played,'" Spagnola said. "Then I continued hitting them in the water.
"I had a couple that hit on the green but rolled over and in, finally I gave up and suffered the embarrassment of putting the ball down the path.
"By this time, I had used up all of my own balls and was hitting range balls."
Wait, it gets worse: But that wasn't even the worst part for Spagnola.
"As I was trying to putt the ball over the bridge and onto the green, I hit a couple more balls in the water. I think the exact total was 27 lost balls," he said. "And I still had to play the 18th hole."
Spagnola says that he loves playing golf with the LPGA players.
"I've played in a couple of other tournaments, but this was the first time I've every played this format and it was really a lot of fun," he said. "They even used one of my shots today and that was tremendous for me."
Asked if he's ever tried to improve his game with lessons, Spagnola laughed.
"Golf Digest sent me to their golf school for a week," he said. "I had some of the greatest golf instructors in the world such as Davis Love III's father and Peter Kostis. You have to have a little natural ability to get better and I have very little."
Loves to play: Spagnola says that he still loves to play the game.
"I love the game, especially when we go out and play with my two sons, who can hit the ball a mile," he said. "I got them together one day and jokingly told them that they were both adopted because no sons of mine could hit a golf ball like they do."
Spagnola said that also enjoyed playing golf with his father, who just passed away several months ago.
"Dad was 95 percent blind and I would go out with him and line him up and tell him how far away he was and then he would knock it right on the green.
"Then I would step up and hit one nowhere near the green and I could see where I was going," Spagnola said.
Spagnola, who is host of the "Worst Avid Golfers Tournament" in Pittsburgh each year, says that his terrible golf game has taken him all over the country and on national television.
"It is unbelievable what has happened to me since that day in 1985 when I stood there and hit ball after ball into the water."