Ken Green deserves better from the Tour

Ken Green deserves better from the Tour

Ken Green is attempting to resume his pro golf career while playing on a prosthetic leg.
David Walberg/SI

Everybody can understand Ken Green’s desire to come back from that terrible RV accident in which he lost his brother, his girlfriend, his dog and part of his right leg, but few people understand Ken.

I’ve been coaching Ken since the early 1980s and I know him to be a fiercely loyal man and a very competitive player. People have a perception of Ken as a rebel and an iconoclast, but in truth he was always just a normal fun-loving guy who wanted to play golf.

Did you know he was the first player to have his son as a caddie in the Masters Par-3 Tournament? He got a letter of reprimand for that. Ken and Mark Calcavecchia were the first players to skip the ball across the pond on 16 during practice rounds at Augusta, not Seve Ballesteros as most people think. He got a letter of reprimand for that. What were considered rebellious acts back then are now celebrated traditions.

The Tour recently ruled against giving Ken an extension of the two-year Champions Tour exemption he earned by winning five times on the PGA Tour to make up for the time he lost recovering from his accident. According to the policy board, Ken wasn’t in the Top 30 so he didn’t qualify for a major medical exemption. Case closed. After what he’s been through, Ken doesn’t complain that the ruling was unfair, but I have a real problem with it.

Basically we had another situation where Tour officials had a chance to do the right thing for the right reason rather than justify their arcane rules, and they blew it again. Trust me, the players won’t vote against an exemption for Ken. Hell, the players voted to donate their pro-am earnings for this year to Ken and Chris Smith! All he’s asking for is what’s rightfully his: those 13 months of eligibility he lost from his injuries.

Ken and I have had to change his golf swing so he can play with his prosthesis. He needs to get stronger, as well as let his left ankle heal. I know we can get him to where he can compete in time, but we don’t have time anymore. Ken turns 52 in July, and when he blows out those candles, his exemption will be gone, along with the Tour’s opportunity to do the right thing for a change.