A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 18, 2012
“Drive for show and putt for dough” (golf adage)

"Drive for show and putt for dough” is a popular rhyming golf adage, but the saying has had many non-rhyming forms. “We drive for pleasure, but we putt for money” was said by golfer Johnny Farrell (1901-1988) in 1928. “Drive for pleasure, putt for profit” is from 1930. “We drive for fun—but we putt for money” is from 1936. “We drive for pleasure and we putt for dough” is from 1938.

“You drive for show—but putt for dough” has been cited in print since at least 1939. The saying means that long drives are impressive, but what makes money is the putt that puts the ball into the cup.

A similar saying in bowling (from the 1980s and 1990s) is “Strike for show and spare for dough.” A similar saying in both handball (from 1999) and racquetball (from 2000) is “Kill for show and pass for dough” and in billiards (from 2000) it’s “Draw for show and follow for dough.”


Wikipedia: Johnny Farrell
John Joseph Farrell (April 1, 1901 – June 14, 1988) was an American professional golfer, best known for winning the 1928 U.S. Open.

Farrell was born in White Plains, New York. He turned professional in 1922.

In 1928, Farrell won the U.S. Open. He tied with amateur Bobby Jones after the regulation 72 holes, at the Olympia Fields Country Club near Chicago, and won a 36-hole playoff by one stroke. He was voted the 1927 and 1928 Best Golf Professional in the United States, after a winning streak of six consecutive tournaments, on his road to a total of 22 career PGA Tour wins. He played for the United States in the first three Ryder Cups: 1927, 1929, and 1931.

Farrell was the head professional at the Quaker Ridge Golf Club in New York from 1919-1930.

9 September 1928, Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, “The Sportlight” by Grantland Rice, pg. 5, col. 3:
“We drive for pleasure,” says Johnny Farrell, “but we putt for money.”

6 July 1929, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “The Sportlight” by Grantland Rice, pg. 9, col. 4:
“We drive for pleasure,” says Johnny Farrell, “but we putt for money.”

20 June 1930, Tampa (FL) Morning Tribune, “The Morning After” by Virgil M. Newton, pg. 14, col. 3:
Putt for Profit
“Drive for pleasure, putt for profit,” is what Tom McHugh, the Davis Islands professional, tells his duffers. Few follow his advice.. Putting is the most important thing to the gold champions and the least important to the dubs.

24 January 1931, Tampa (FL) Morning Tribune, “The Morning After” by Virgil M. Newton, pg. 13, col. 2:
Yet there isn’t a Col. Duffer alive today who wouldn’t trade a dozen seven-footers for one smacking 250-yard drive—proof enough of the truth in that ancient golfing axiom, “Drive for pleasure, putt for profit.”

2 April 1933, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Advice to the Golflorn,” as explained by Pete Dugas, Pontchartrain Golf Club professional, sec. 4, pg. 3, col. 7:
Johnny Farrell’s remark that “We drive for fun and putt for money,” has a lot of truth in it at that, but a good whistling tee shot in an important match is not to be scoffed at.

10 March 1936, Springfield (MA) Daily Republican, “The Sportlight,” pg. 18, col. 1:
For, as Johnny Farrell once said, “We drive for fun—but we putt for money.”

1 June 1938, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “Former Everett lad cracks par in trial here” by William E. Steedman, pg. 19, col. 6:
“We drive for pleasure and we putt for dough,” is a remark attributed to sundry of our most eminent professional golfers, notably to Tommy Armour.

14 August 1939, Bismarck (ND) Tribune, pg. 6, col. 3:
There’s an old golf saying that “you drive for show—but putt for dough,” and “that about tells the story,” said Sarazen.

2 March 1940, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Sports Postscripts” by Paul Zimmerman, pg. 6:
That old golf gag which says “they drive for fun but putt for dough” certainly is being borne out these days by Jimmy Demaret, the smiling Texan who is setting such a dizzy pace for the rest of the professionals in the winter money tournaments.

6 July 1943, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Walker Wins Links Crown” by Jack Curnow, pg. 8:
Some golfing wag once said, “You drive for show and putt for dough!”

3 November 1945, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Eaton Paces Golfers in Southland Open” by Jack Curnow, pg. 6:
There’s an old links bromide, “You drive for show and putt for dough.”

17 August 1959, Washington (DC) Post and Times Herald, “Junior Girls Golf Opens Here Today,” pg. A16:
“Drive for show and putt for dough,” Anne Quast told a group of USGA junior girls championship contestants during a clinic yesterday at Manor Country Club.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Friday, May 18, 2012 • Permalink


Thanks for the origin and evolution of that popular adage. I often wondered where it came from. However, a crushing, accurate drive, although it may be impressive, is not just for “show” or “fun”. Good position off the tee is vital for setting up your approach shot and an accurate shot here might make the “putt for dough” part a lot less difficult. My take the meaning of this adage: although long, straight, booming drives are quite impressive, they won’t help you if your short game stinks.
Thanks again.

Posted by Richard  on  05/25  at  12:51 PM

In my opinion it is a truly nice point of view. I usually meet people who rather say what they suppose others want to hear. Good and well written! I will come back to your site for sure!

Posted by golf resort  on  07/10  at  04:17 AM

Very good article, it was awesome to read.
Thank you.

Posted by remove pimples from face  on  08/15  at  06:02 PM

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