Arrested Developments: 13 Golfers Who Spent Time in Jail

Professional golfers pride themselves on integrity. But they also make mistakes, both on course and off. Sometimes those mistakes result in arrest and even jail time. In 2017, even one of golf's greatest, Tiger Woods, was arrested and booked into jail. Woods' offense was DUI (driving under the influence) which, alas, shows up several more times below.

Here are the stories of 13 golfers with arrest records.

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Jean-Baptiste Ado

Ado was a French golfer who played in European tournaments mostly during the 1950s. According to Peter Alliss in The Who's Who of Golf, Ado was "a gentle man" remembered for "rolling how own cigarettes" as he walked down fairways.

Ado also was a booming driver. He played the British Open five times, with a best finish of 38th in 1954.

A nondescript golf career. But a truly amazing arrest record: During World War II, Ado worked with the French Resistance. "There are stories," Alliss, who later played with Ado, wrote, "of his having strangled Germans with his bare hands."

But either the Nazi occupiers or their Vichy collaborators tracked Ado down and he was arrested. And then Ado was sentenced to death and put in front of a Nazi firing squad.

The executioners fired. Ado crumpled to the ground. The firing squad members walked away.

And then Ado got up and escaped. With a broken jaw and missing several shot-out teeth, but, amazingly, astoundingly, having survived a Nazi firing squad.

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Robert Allenby

Golfer Robert Allenby pictured in 2016
Robert Allenby. Matt King/Getty Images

After missing the cut at the 2016 John Deere Classic, Robert Allenby headed to a casino in Rock Island, Ill. He wound up, in the wee hours of the morning, arrested and booked for disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing. Allenby spent a short time in jail before bonding out.

The Australian golfer has been a PGA Tour regular for many years, and played for Team International in the Presidents Cup six times.

The Illinois arrest happened about a year after a bizarre incident in Hawaii, following the Sony Open. Allenby awoke, battered and disoriented, in a Honolulu park. He claimed he'd been drugged, beaten and robbed. Allenby's caddie cast doubt on the story, but police eventually did arrest a man caught using Allenby's credit cards.

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Notah Begay III

Notah Begay III during The Presidents Cup matches in 2000
Harry How/Getty Images

Begay, a Stanford University teammate of Tiger Woods, won twice on the PGA Tour in 1999. But in January of 2000, he was arrested for DUI for the second time. In the second incident, Begay failed a sobriety test after his vehicle struck a parked car.

Begay was sentenced to a 364-day jail term, but required to serve only seven of those days.

"I broke the law and I'm paying the price," Begay said as he arrived to serve his jail time.

After release, Begay won twice more on the PGA Tour in 2000, but those were his final wins. He later entered a rebab program is now a broadcaster with the Golf Channel.

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Steven Bowditch

Golfer Steven Bowditch at the 2016 OHL Classic at Mayakoba
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The PGA Tour golfer has won as recently as the 2015 Byron Nelson Championship. But during the evening after the first round of the 2017 Phoenix Open, Bowditch was arrested and accused of "extreme DUI."

A citizen called police at 1:10 a.m. to report a pickup swerving all over the road. Police later found Bowditch in that pickup, asleep, with the truck stopped at an intersection. Bowditch's blood-alcohol level tested on the scene at .182, more than twice the legal limit in Arizona.

Bowditch spent the night in jail, then played in the second round of the tournament. He missed the cut.

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Rachel Connor

British golfer Rachel Connor was arrested in 2012, suspected of drunk driving. Former NFL star running back and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George was in the passenger seat when Connor was pulled over in Florida.

The on-scene breathalyzer test showed Connor had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system. She was booked into jail that night. Connor eventually pleaded guilty to DUI. She received 12 months probation and was required to do 50 hours of community service.

Connor was playing on the Symetra Tour at the time, and made appearances on that tour from 2010-14. The 61 she shot at the 2011 Tate & Lyle Players Championship is still tied for the all-time 18-hole scoring record on the Symetra Tour.

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John Daly

John Daly, swinging and smoking in 2003
John Daly, swinging and smoking in 2003. Eliot J. Schechter/FilmMagic/Getty Images

John Daly has had a legendarily troubled golf career, from alcohol issues to gambling addiction (in his autobiography, Daly estimated he'd lost from $50 million to $60 million gambling) to rocky marriages. Today, Daly appears to be in a much better place, with a stable marriage and, in 2017, his first win on the Champions Tour.

Daly burst on the golf scene by winning the 1991 PGA Championship, but his first off-course problem soon arose. He was arrested and charged with third-degree assault late in 1992 for allegedly throwing his then-wife into a wall after smashing and breaking things throughout their house. (Daly has always denied the assault charge.)

In 2009, Daly spent a night in jail in Winston-Salem, N.C.,  after passing out from "extreme" intoxication at a Hooters restaurant. Daly did not face charges, but police did book him into jail for the night to sleep off the drunk.

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Andrew Dodman

Andrew Dodman, of Wales, was a golf pro in the 1980s, playing in some lower-level tournaments in Europe but also winning the 1987 Welsh PGA Championship.

By the 2000s, however, he was in a bad way due to a gambling addiction. His golf career long behind him, Dodman eventually turned to robbery to support his gambling habit.

That culminated in 2016 when he was sentenced to nine years in prison following two robberies at knife-point. The first was of a lone pregnant woman who was staffing a betting parlor in Wrexham, Wales. The second was a residential home that Dodman knew contained a safe.

He got away with £600 cash in the first, £12,000 in the second. In the second robbery, Dodman threatened to cut off the ear of the home's occupant unless the safe was opened.

The police nabbed Dodman thanks to neighbors of the second victim, who recorded the license on Dodman's getaway car.

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Tommy Gainey

Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey first gained fame as a likable contestant on a couple seasons of the Golf Channel show The Big Break. He went on to win on the Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour.

But in December 2019, at the age of 44, Gainey was one of 124 individuals arrested in a prostitution sting that the Polk County (Florida) Sheriff's Office dubbed "Operation Santa's Naughty List."

After a short jail stay, Gainey, given a first-degree misdemeanor solicitation charge, was released on bail. One month later, Gainey won the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour's season-opening tournament, the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic.

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'Machine Gun' Jack McGurn

Al Capone enforcer 'Machine Gun' Jack McGurn
'Machine Gun' Jack McGurn, looking like a man with something to hide. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

At the 1933 Western Open (the tournament we now know as the PGA Tour's BMW Championship), one of the entrants was a local club pro representing Chicago's Evergreen Golf Club. His name was Vincent Gebhardi.

Except that Vincent Gebhardi wasn't really "Vincent Gebhardi" - he was mobster "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn.

McGurn was a key member of Al Capone's Chicago mob, and was believed to be - although never proven to be - involved in the planning and, perhaps, the execution of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

But on Aug. 25, 1933, McGurn was playing golf at Olympia Fields Country Club in the Western Open, and carded a 13-over 83 in the first round.

By Round 2, local cops got suspicious of "Vincent Gebhardi," which was a variation of the mobster's birth name, Vicenzo Gibaldi. A squad of policemen confronted McGurn on the seventh green, planning to arrest him there.

McGurn, who was playing pretty good in Round 2, pleaded to be allowed to finish the round. The cops agreed! But McGurn stumbled from that point and finished at 86.

McGurn missed the cut, but the police had their man. He was not subsequently convicted of anything, however. Three years later he was assassinated by killers whose identity remains unknown.

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The Mysterious Montague

John Montague with his attorney in 1937
John Montague (left) - he doesn't look very mysterious, does he? - with his attorney in 1937. Bettman/Getty Images

"The Mysterious Montague," a k a John Montague, is one of those legendary figures from golf's more raucous earlier days, when raconteurs, hustlers and scam artists were, sometimes, just as good at golf as the guys on the pro tours.

Montague was a popular figure in the California golf and movie scene in the 1930s, winning golf matches while, for example, playing only with a shovel, a hoe and a rake, and winning lots of money, too. He hobnobbed with movie stars, on and off the golf courses.

But in 1937, The Mysterious Montague was unveiled not as John Montague but as LaVerne Moore. And LaVerne Moore was arrested and charged with an armed robbery and assault committed in New York in 1930 that resulted in one person's death.

Montague - I mean Moore - went on trial in 1937 and was acquitted. In 2008, sports journalist Leigh Montville published a book titled The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery, and also wrote about Montague in Smithsonian Magazine.

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Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe during the second round of the 3M Championship August 4, 2007
Jim Thorpe on the Champions Tour in 2007. Michael Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images

Between 2002 and 2004, Jim Thorpe failed to pay what he owed: $1.6 million in taxes to the federal government. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges. And in 2010-11, Thorpe spent nearly a year in jail.

“I apologize to everyone for the mistakes that I made, and I blame no one else but myself," Thorpe said when he returned to the Champions Tour in 2011, following his release from, first, an Alabama prison camp and then a halfway house.

Thorpe was in his early 60s at the time, so his days of winning, even on the Champions Tour, were behind him. But following a PGA Tour career that included three wins, Thorpe won 13 times on the Champions Tour from 2000 through 2007.

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Cyril Walker

Cyril Walker in 1926
Cyril Walker in happier times, 1926. Kirby/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The winner of the 1924 U.S. Open, Walker died in jail at age 56 in 1948. Although that time, he was in jail voluntarily, having gone there seeking shelter.

Walker was once, according to legend, "arrested for slow play" in the Los Angeles Open (he wasn't actually arrested that time, but was hauled off the course by police and threatened with jail).

But once his pro golfing days ended, Walker fell on very hard times, mostly due to his drinking habit. An obituary that ran in Time magazine said that Walker "gradually drank himself out of big-time competition, at one time worked as a caddie, ended up a dishwasher."

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Tiger Woods

An angry Tiger Woods in 2005
Steve Grayson/Getty Images

Following several years of on-course and off-course struggles, and, at the time, out of golf due to a succession of back surgeries, Tiger Woods was pulled over on suspicion of DUI in May 2017.

Police in Jupiter, Fla., founds Woods asleep in his vehicle on the side of a road around 3 a.m. Woods failed on-site sobriety tests, so was arrested and booked into jail overnight.

Woods issued a statement blaming the incident on a bad mix of prescription drugs. He denied alcohol was involved, and a breathalyzer administered by the police showed no alcohol.

"I understand the severity of what I did, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Woods said in the statement.