"Who's that other guy over there beyond Fuzzy?" said the woman -- and the small gallery near the 15th fairway could not help laughing, for people who fail to recognize Jack Nicklaus usually are not allowed on golf courses.
Fuzzy Zoeller learned of the scene shortly after it took place, during the second round of the Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic. And by now he surely has retold -- and probably embellished -- it to every one of his fellow pros within earshot.
More and more what they have known about Frank Urban Zoeller for years is becoming public. Like Lee Trevino, he is an original, a golfer as equally pleasant to hear as to watch, a personality in a sport of robots.
It is uncommon for Zoeller, wild as he often is off the tee, to smack a drive that bounces off a rough-side chair and into the pocket of a jacket slung over the back. It is not uncommon for him to see the possibilities for more than a difficult second shot.
"Why weren't you sitting out in the fairway?" he said to the chair's owner, Rick Marks. As sometimes happens, although less regularly now that he has an immensely powerful game under control. Zoeller birdied the moment but bogeyed the hole.
And went off whistling toward the next tee.
"I wish I had his attitude." said Lee Elder. "I've got to throw a club or two -- or at least pound one into the ground now and then in frustration. Not him."
"He's got the most positive mental attitude I've ever seen," said marshal Mickey Andrews. "He even talks with you after a bad shot."
And who has Andrews seen to lend perspective to that thought?
"Oh, Trevino, Nicklaus, Watson. President Ford."
"Even when he chews me out he's smiling," said his caddie, Mike Mazzeo. "I decided to pick up his bag for a month. Five years later, I'm still his caddie. That's the main reason. He takes that extra step."
At that moment, Zoeller, who had shot even par and made the cut by just one shot, was walking toward a small boy with a pen and pad and saying, "Hey, how 'bout if I sign that for you?"
There are a few golfers who hit the ball farther than Zoeller. At the moment, he is the leading money winner on the tour. This season, Zoeller won his first PGA tournament at San Diego after earning enough money to be an exempt player his last three years on tour.
So he literally can afford some fun to step onto the tee of a par-3, take out a five-iron and mutter to no one special, "Oh heckiedurn," before sending the ball 10 feet from the cup. Or to say to the ball a few holes later, "Where you going this time, baby? This is multiple choice."
Zoeller would be no different had he earned 30 cents instead of nearly $300,000 on the golf course, he insists, adding, "You can't take this game too seriously or you'll go berserk."
If his one-liners often leave customers at least smiling, his tee shots leave them in slack-jawed embarrassment, especially when he is hitting after golf's certified legend. Nicklaus, whose once-deserved reputation for length off the tee has faded.
At the 424-yard par-4 seventh hole, where a player can be too long for his own good, Nicklaus hit a driver and the gallery cooed in amazement. Then Zoeller grabbed a two-iron and slammed his ball 20 yards beyond Nicklaus's.
Zoeller has the body of a decent athlete gone slightly to seed. His swing and address, with the clubface actually to the right of the ball, is more suited to public courses than the pro tour. So he reminds the duffer of himself -- and he reminds himself never to overlook the duffers beyond the ropes.
"He dishes it out pretty good, but he also can take it," said pro Larry Ziegler. "I remember him coming up to me once, and it was obvious he'd goven what he was going to say a lot of thought. He said, 'You know, I didn't believe in abortions until I met you.'"
On Friday, Zoeller mentioned to Bruce Devlin that since he'd shot 73 the first day and 72 the second, a 71 was sure to follow the next round.
"Bet you shoot anything but 71," said Devlin. "Bet you anvthing."
"Can't do it, babe," Zoeller said, "because I might be lookin' over a putt on 18 for 63 and have to whiff eight times just to win the bet."
Zoeller is a native of Indiana who came to Florida for junior college and golf and committed himself to following the sun "because I like competition and I like to play. And I like people."
Zoeller can reach most par-5s with a driver and a medium to long iron. His length attracts most casual golf fans, then his easy manner and surprisingly deicate putting touch usually assure their presence the entire round.
On the 434-yard par-4 ninth hole, Zoeller hooked his second shot into the gallery in front of the green and a woman politely congratulated him on such a long tee shot.
"Lady," said Zoeller, "I eat Wheaties and all that stuff, but this is ridiculous."