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Fred Couples, Golf Digest’s top dude, too cool to realize it


With four of the nine amateurs, the Bears will be well-represented in the celebrity pro-am portion of the Encompass Championship, which begins Friday at North Shore Country Club in Glenview.


7:37 a.m. Bears coach Marc Trestman-Larry Mize (1st tee)

7:59 Bears kicker Robbie Gould-D.A. Weibring (10th tee)

8:32 Retired Bull Toni Kukoc-Fred Couples (1st)

8:54 Retired Bear Brian Urlacher-Jeff Sluman (1st)

11:55 Retired Hawk Jack O’Callahan-Mark Brooks (10th)

11:55 Wounded Warrior advocate Chad Watson-Bobby Wadkins (10th)

12:17 p.m. Hawks broadcaster Pat Foley-Dan Pooley (10th)

12:28 Retired Redskin Joe Theismann-Craig Stadler (1st)

12:39 Retired Bear Jay Hilgenberg-Chien Soon Lu (1st)

Updated: June 21, 2013 12:08AM

Here’s the definition of cool: When I asked Fred Couples on Thursday how he felt about being voted the coolest golfer, he professed not to even know Golf Digest had ranked him first, ahead of No. 2 Seve Ballesteros, No. 3 Walter Hagen and No. 4 Arnold Palmer.

‘‘I don’t know where that was,’’ he said on the practice tee at North Shore Country Club in Glenview. ‘‘On the Champions Tour?’’

No. The coolest golfer of all time.

‘‘Of all time? That’s a problem,’’ Couples said. ‘‘I’d say the coolest golfer of all time would be Sam Snead. Sam was phenomenal. But I saw Ben Hogan a million times swinging at Merion. I liked his slacks and the little teeny, thin belt. I’ve been talking to Ashworth to see if we can get back in the 1950s and ’60s.’’

From what I know of Sam Snead, there was a goofy side that would disqualify him. And while Hogan was a legend, he was a little too tightly wound, no matter how skinny his belt.

If I were making my all-time list, I’d have a hard time putting anybody ahead of Arnie. But Couples would be in the discussion. And he’s certainly the definition of cool among active players.

As Golf Digest explained: ‘‘Women love him, and men want to be like him.’’

There’s also no question that Couples will be a magnet when the Encompass Championship, a brand-new Champions Tour event, begins Friday at North Shore.

His gallery really would have been the coolest place to be if Couples had been able to talk his friend, Michael Jordan, into teaming with him for the celebrity pro-am that takes place Friday and Saturday.

‘‘I tried pretty hard, but he’s got a lot of other stuff going on,’’ Couples said. ‘‘And then I asked Bo Jackson because I was paired with him in Alabama, but he’s got his charity event on Saturday.’’

And, so, former Bull Toni Kukoc will be Couples’ partner.

‘‘I’ve never met him, but I’ve seen him play basketball and I like the way he played,’’ Couples said. ‘‘And he’s excited. He’s all worried about how he’s going to play. I said it won’t matter. We’ll just have a good time.’’

That’s the key phrase as the Champions Tour returns to Chicago for the first time since 2002.

Nine celebrities are playing in the pro-am, including Brian Urlacher, Bears kicker Robbie Gould and Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley.

‘‘It’s like when we used to play at Pebble Beach — this will be a blast,’’ Couples said.

It all sounds cool. But as he said — and like all cool people — Couples doesn’t really go there.

‘‘My definition of cool is — I never really even thought about it,’’ said the man who started the trend toward Top-Sider-like golf shoes. ‘‘I started these shoes. That’s a cool thing to me. That doesn’t make me cool. It makes people smart that the old kind of heavy shoes are out. But I don’t know about being cool.’’

As with Cary Grant, that’s not for him to decide.

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