Golf, more so than most other sports, has a certain air of status. It’s expensive to play, and spectators are held to a code of conduct; even television broadcasts feature Jim Nantz speaking in hushed, reverent tones rather than highlighting hordes of screaming fans. John Daly, however, flies in the face of those stereotypes.
For better or worse, Daly always does things his own way. That way included plenty of gambling; the golfer once blew more than $1.5 million in a single casino session.
John Daly’s one-of-a-kind golf career
Growing up, John Daly played both football and golf. He showed more promise on the links, however, and headed to the University of Arkansas on a scholarship. He spent three years on campus but left before graduating to join the professional ranks.
While Daly showed some promise in the early years of his career, he truly burst onto the scene in 1991. In his first year on tour, he claimed a stunning victory the PGA Championship; on the back of that success, he was invited The Skins Game and named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. That meteoric rise, combined with his booming drives, propensity for meltdowns, and blue-collar image, made him a fan favorite.
Daly would win the Open Championship in 1995, but would then hit a rough patch both on the course and in his personal life. He managed to back on track in the early 2000s, before slipping back toward irrelevance. These days, Daly’s still an active golfer but has fallen miles down the global leader board.
Blowing $1.65 million in a single casino session
During his career, John Daly became famous for his gambling habits. While he lost plenty of money—the rough estimate hovers between $50 and $60 million—one of the worse incidents came in a marathon session during 2005.
In that year’s American Express Championship, Daly lost to Tiger Woods on the second hole of a playoff. While missing a two-foot put stung, he still earned $750,000 as the runner-up. That money, however, wouldn’t remain in his possession for long.
Rather than heading home from San Francisco, Daly headed to Las Vegas and settled down at a $5,000-per play slot machine. Within half an hour, he lost $600,000; he promptly took out a new $600,000 line of credit and burned through that, too. By the time he left the casino, the golfer was out $1.65 million.
“And here’s how my sick mind analyzed the situation,” Daly wrote in 2006 autobiography. “My sponsorship payments would be coming through in January, so I’d be able to pay everything off and get back to even by the beginning of the new year. Everything’s fine. Everything’s OK. No problema. Hell, yes, there’s a problema.”
John Daly is still gambling, but, thankfully, he’s still earning money
While he tried to get his habit in check, John Daly never stopped gambling. Thankfully for the golfer, he still has some income streams beyond tournament winnings, which can still shake out to hundreds of thousands a year.
These days, Daly is a brand onto himself. He has his own lines of cocktails and pizza; he also endorses several golf and clothing brands, has a golf course design company, recorded some country albums.
According to CelebrityNetWorth, Daly is worth approximately $2 million today. While that’s still enough to live comfortably, it’s hard to wonder what the golfer’s life could have been like if he didn’t struggle with alcohol and gambling.