For all his strength, Little had an expert short game. He used a variety of clubs from around the green, and in fact often carried as many as seven wedges among his 26 clubs, an excess which in 1938 prompted the USGA to institute the 14-club limit.
As Little’s reputation as a merciless competitor continued to mushroom, so did the estimation that he was a surly and unlikable champion. Having grown up the son of a colonel in the Army Medical Corps, bouncing from base to base across the United States and China, Little was admittedly withdrawn, but he attributed his on-course demeanor to an unparalleled concentration.
“The man who doesn’t plan out every shot to the very top of his capacity for thought can’t attain championship form,” he said. Little also believed, “Winners hit their bad shots best.”
In the spring of 1935, Little went to St Anne’s to defend his British Amateur title, and he was lucky not to lose his first match. Despite a shaky 80 he stole the match on the 18th green, and from there he took the title without incident. Little’s inexorable march into the record books was completed at the Cleveland Country Club.
Little turned pro shortly thereafter, and his mediocre record was often attributed to a lack of desire that came from being among the first pros with significant endorsement money. When he defeated Gene Sarazen in a playoff to win the 1940 U.S. Open, it was a reminder of what his talents once were. With the advent of World War II, Little lost direction as the Major Championships were canceled and he became more interested in the stock market than in competitive golf. “He never practiced,” said Jack Burke Jr. “Little either had it that week or he didn’t. But when he did have it, it was lights out.”
Lawson Little was originally inducted in Pinehurst.