Fred Couples: One of Golf's Coolest Swingers

Fred Couples
Golfer Fred Couples during a Champions Tour tournament in 2012. Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Fred Couples is one of the most popular golfers of his era, with fans and with his fellow golfers. His pro career spans from the 1980s and to the Champions Tour in the 21st century. Couples' hallmarks are an easygoing manner and one of the smoothest swing tempos in golf.

Fast Facts: Fred Couples

  • Occupation: Professional golfer
  • Nicknames: "Boom Boom" and "Freddie Cool"
  • Born: October 3, 1959 in Seattle Washington
  • Parents: Tom and Violet Couples
  • Key Accomplishments: Winner of the 1992 Masters, PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992, three-time captain of United States Presidents Cup team.
  • Famous Quote: "When you're prepared, you're more confident. When you have a strategy, you're more comfortable."
  • Fun Fact: Couples is one of the rare pro golfers who does not use a golf glove.

"Freddie Cool" derives from that easygoing manner; "Boom Boom" originated as a nickname for Couples because of booming drives.

Couples' Pro Wins

Couples won 15 times on the PGA Tour. After joining the Champions Tour (for ages 50 and over), where he still plays, his win total is 13.

His biggest win is also Couples' only victory in a major championship: the 1992 Masters Tournament. Couples has also won two senior majors, the 2011 Senior Players Championship and the 2012 Senior Open Championship.

Awards and Honors

Fred Couples Biography

An easygoing, softspoken individual with a booming drive, Fred Couples emerged as one of the top American golfers of the 1990s, and one of the most popular golfers anywhere. He did it with a smooth, seemingly effortless swing that perfectly matched his personality.

Couples grew up in Seattle, where his father worked in the city's Parks and Recreation Department. The young Freddie caddied for a top local player, who gave Couples his first set of golf clubs: a starter set of 5, 7 and 9 irons, plus putter and driver.

Couples became a top junior and amateur player in the region, then played collegiately at the University of Houston. There, his roommate Jim Nantz would often pretend he was broadcasting The Masters, and that Couples had won it — and then interview Couples in their dorm room. (Couples' other roommates during his years at UH included future PGA Tour pro Blaine McCallister.)

Golfer Fred Couples pictured in 2005.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Couples turned pro in 1980 and his first win on the PGA Tour arrived at the 1983 Kemper Open, where he survived a five-man playoff.

He had a couple big wins in the 1980s: the TPC (Players Championship) in 1984, where he edged Lee Trevino; and the Byron Nelson Classic in 1987.

As the 1990s arrived, Couples emerged into the fullness of his game. He won twice in 1991, and three times in 1992, sharing the Tour lead both years. He was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year by his peers both years; in 1992, he was the No. 1-ranked player in the world for several months.

That was also the year of his lone major championship at The Masters. And, just as they had rehearsed in college, Couples was interviewed afterward by his old roomie, Nantz, on the CBS telecast.

Unfortunately, Couples also developed back problems during this period of his career, problems that were sometimes severe and always with him, and that would limit his play and often his effectiveness throughout the remainder of his career.

Still, Couples had more wins in him. Teaming with good friend Davis Love III, he won four straight World Cup of Golf titles. In 1996, he became the first repeat Players Championship victor at TPC Sawgrass.

He won twice in 1998, and won the 2003 Shell Houston Open, his last PGA Tour victory. In 2010, Couples began playing the Champions Tour. His first win on the senior tour came in his second start at the Ace Group Classic.

Outside of his tournament life, Couples has gotten into course design. He hosts a benefit tournament in Seattle yearly, and works with the Millie Medlin Violet Sobich Couples Fund, set up in memory of his mother.

Golf Digest described Couples' swing this way in 1996: "The distinguishing characteristics of Couples' swing are fluidity, rhythm and balance. Sometimes it's hard to believe that a swing so seemingly effortless can produce such long drives."

His exceptional tempo made his instructional video, Fred Couples on Tempo, a popular title when it was released in 1988.

Couples was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame (Class of 2013) on the PGA Tour ballot, a selection announced in September 2012.

Fred Couples Trivia

  • Couples was a five-time winner of the Skins Game, and won more than 20 other "silly season" events, earning him the monicker, "King of the Silly Season."
  • After the introduction of golf's first world rankings, Couples was the first American to be ranked No. 1.
  • For a half-dozen years on the PGA Tour, the club Couples used as his 3-wood was actually a women's driver that had belonged to Tom Watson's wife. Couples refitted it with a shaft to fit his swing.

Quote, Unquote

Several notable things said by Couples over the years:

  • "Always count your blessings. Be thankful you are able to be out on a beautiful course. Most people in the world don't have that opportunity."
  • "When you're prepared, you're more confident. When you have a strategy, you're more comfortable."
  • "You just can't miss putts and win tournaments, whether it's the Atlanta Classic or The Masters."
  • "I don't play great golf a lot. I do it every now and then."