Former PGA Tour winner and course designer Forrest Fezler died at the age of 69 on Friday in Tallahassee, Fla., after battling brain cancer.
Fezler, who was best known for wearing shorts at the 1983 U.S. Open, played for 12 years on the PGA Tour. His best year came in 1974, when he won the Southern Open, his lone Tour title. His best finish at a major also came in 1974, when he placed second to Hale Irwin at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. During his career, the California-native had 30 top-10 finishes and eight runner-up finishes.
In 1973, Fezler earned PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors. But injuries would hamper him for much of his career and force Fezler to have to adjust both his swing and the number of tournaments he played in.
Fezler’s most iconic moment as a professional came during the final round of the 1983 U.S. Open at Oakmont. In between the 17th and 18th holes, he ducked into a port-a-potty and changed into Bermuda shorts for the final hole. “I went brain dead for a few minutes of my life and it brought me publicity for 30-some years,” Fezler said to the Denver Post after his infamous moment. “I’m glad I did it.”
Fezler had long said that he pulled the stunt because he disagreed with the USGA’s course set-ups, but he told GOLF.com in 2015 that he actually did it in response to bad officiating he had faced two years earlier.
But Fezler’s most significant impact on the game came in his 30-plus years working in the course design and construction business. Fezler helped develop many courses across the country, most notably his own Golden Eagle Golf Course in Tallahassee. He became partners with some of the biggest names in the business, including Tom Fazio and the late Mike Strantz.
Fezler helped build courses with some of the biggest names in the sport, including Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Johnny Miller. Some of his projects included Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course and PGA National’s Palmer Course.