Few golfers have cult-hero status. Anthony Kim and John Daly are among them. So, too, is Spencer Levin, whose name came up on this week’s GOLF Subpar Podcast with Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz.
Pro Charlie Beljan was this week’s guest, but the topic of Levin surfaced when they talked about Beljan’s time at the University of New Mexico, where he and Levin were teammates.
Levin, now 38, was a two-time All-American who has made over $8 million in his pro golf career. He’s had more than 300 PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour starts, and he’s still out there grinding for more. In October he Monday qualified for the Shriners Children’s Open, and just this week he played his way into the Farmers Insurance Open.
But what’s helped Levin earn that cult status has been the way in which he goes about his business: his relatability to the average golfer. He’s not like your typical pro. He used to smoke on the course, and his emotions run high. He’s thrown clubs, and some of his outbursts have gone viral.
“He was one of my favorites to get paired with,” Knost said. “Not only cause he would lose his s—, but he just knew how to play golf. Wasn’t the prettiest thing, wasn’t the most beautiful golf swing, didn’t hit it nine miles, but he put a score on a scorecard that was better than a lot of people.”
The podcast had some great anecdotes about Levin, whom Beljan, Knost and Stoltz are all fond of, so we thought they were worth sharing here.
Here’s one, from Knost, during a college match together.
“We were playing Texas A&M’s tournament and I get paired with Spencer and Tyler Leon,” Knost said. “First tee, Tyler is over there putting sunscreen on. He’s like, ‘Spence, you want some? Spence goes, ‘Nah, I’ll die from lung cancer way before I die from skin cancer.'”
(The group noted that Levin doesn’t smoke anymore.)
Stoltz also had a story about a college tournament. Stoltz was waiting on the first hole at an event in Tucson, Ariz., and Levin teed off in the group ahead. Levin found the fairway, and after his group hit their second shots into the green, Stoltz’s group hit their shots and walked off the tee.
“We get up there. We are waiting by our balls and it’s taking them a while,” Stoltz said. “Spence apparently plugs it in the front bunker, chops it out, goes back behind the green, chops it back to the front, misses, taps in, and his bag is still down by the bunker. He’s the first to finish out. Grabs the pin, takes the pin and javelins it at his bag and hit his bag, which is unbelievable cause that’s hard to do. Knocks his bag down. Whole f—— mayhem is going on. Puts the stick in, takes the visor off — it’s a 36-hole day by the way and it’s 96 degrees — takes his visor off, crumples it and throws it with his ball in that little ravine that you walk over going to the second tee. And then we are like, ‘Look down here! Look down here!’ It’s all Spencer’s s—. He came back and shot like, he was like in second at the end of the day. Double off the first. We are one hole in and he’s doing that. Know what I mean? Normally that’s hole like 31 when you’ve had enough, but it was one.”
Now it was Beljan’s turn. He brought up a time they played in the Mountain West Conference Championship in Bend, Ore. Beljan said he made a long putt on the last hole to get New Mexico into a playoff with BYU. So all five players from both teams, plus the coaches and a few others watching, went to the first tee to begin the playoff.
“And I kid you not, Spencer is getting ready to hit it man, and he backs off a bit, and he rolls up his sleeves and turns to the BYU team and goes, ‘Boys, I’m going to make this quick cause I’m hungry,'” Beljan recalled. “And the guy goes out and birdies the first hole! … He was just awesome, man. He was a different cat, but he was good.”
Knost decided to bring up that aforementioned college grouping he had with Levin one more time.
“He was in a fairway bunker and he hit this beautiful fairway bunker shot that came up like 20 feet short of the hole, and I was like, ‘Dude, great shot, Spence,'” Knost said. “And he’s f—— javelin’ his club 60 yards and he goes, ‘Don’t ever f—— talk to my ball!’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ And he goes, ‘Sorry, dude, I thought I stoned it.”
“He didn’t want to lose; that’s what made him great, man, he didn’t want to lose,” Beljan said. “And he didn’t accept losing well, but he didn’t lose often.”
You can check out the podcast below for even more stories about Levin, but also about Beljan’s life on Tour, his crazy victory and more.