Golf

Golf has been an important part of our lives for many years. 

I started playing golf about 1952 when I was in high school.  I can't remember how I really got started, but I suspect it was because of a friendship I had with Walter Temple.  Walter lived across the street from one of the Dallas public golf courses named Stevens Park.  In my opinion, it remains one of the better public courses in Dallas.  Walter played golf and we both attended a class taught by E.M. Barnet who was also the golf coach.  I learned that if you were on the golf team, you got excused from the last class period as that is when you left school and went to the course to play.  Playing golf is infinitely more interesting than attending many classes in high school.  I think it was the same for Mr. Barnett.  He would come by the course but I don't remember him ever doing any "coaching."  I remember he had a Ford coupe made during the 1940's that we thought was neat.  By this time I had my own car, a Crosley pickup.

I brought idea of playing golf to my father who said "golf is a game for the idle rich and we were neither idle or rich" and that was that.  I had discovered a set of golf clubs in the attic that belonged to dad.  He had never played golf since I was old enough to remember it.  They all had wooden shafts, that made them very old for 1953.  Dad finally gave in and I started playing.  You had to know how to play before you could a part of the golf team, so I began the quest to learn how.  The first lessons were from the other boys in the team, when they were willing to play with a newbie.  One of them, Danny Gruber, was available to help.  I think it boosted his ego to thing he was helping a boy to learn.  My lessons started on the putting green.  There was a nice putting green between the street, Montclair, and the club house.  You could seen the tee box from the first hole from it.  The green of the 9th hole was also there, but it was well below the level of the putting green.

I started playing and slowly but surely, I broke every one of the old wooden shaft clubs that had belonged to dad.  I was also working during the summers and over the Christmas holidays at a men's clothing store, Roland Ellis, on Jefferson street in Oak Cliff and saved enough money to purchase a set of used clubs from the assistant pro at Steven's Park.  He gave me the only "pro lesson" I had by watching me hit the used clubs he recommended I buy.  His first name was Charlie.  Wylie Moore was the head pro and was replaced in 1981 by Ben Perkins. 

The Sunset golf team consisted of an A team and a B team.  I never made it to the A team.  Some of the players were Dickey Smith, Roland Ellis, Dan Gruber, Walter Temple,  and Ben Perkins.  I ran into Ben in recent times who was then working as a pro at Stevens Park.  This was about 2010.  I remember playing often with Ben as he was a newbie too.  I have asked my friend James Quisenberry to help me with more names.  He graduated from Sunset in 1959 and also played on the golf team.  One of the fun things that were part of the golf team was playing on other Dallas golf courses.  These were public courses, like Cedar Crest and Tennyson.  None of the parents of the team were members of private golf clubs.  I graduated from Sunset in June, 1954.

I went to college in Waco at Baylor University.  There was no question about my going to Baylor as far as my parents were concerned.  They were both Baylor graduates.  I remember playing golf occasionally, but as a pre-med student I had little spare time for playing anything.  I remember Cameron Park was where I played on rare occasion.

After Baylor I attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and If I ever played golf during those years (1957-1961) I don't remember it.  I had even less free time for those four years.  After I completed my internship in June, 1962 I was drafted into the U.S. Air Force. 

My basic "training" was at the U.S. Air Force Training School at  Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery Alabama.  I did not take my golf clubs to this post, but I did play some golf using rented clubs.  It was my first experience of ever betting over golf.  I played with guys I did not know and they all wanted to bet they would win.  I don't remember the exact amount of the bets, but I felt like I could see dollars disappearing every time I hit the ball and made a bad shot.  This was my first and last time to gamble while playing golf. 

I served two years (1962-1964) at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  At that time, there was a nice golf course at Randolph Field just north of town and I played a few times.  The School of Aviation Medicine was located at Brooks during this time.  There were no airplanes.  The base had served as a training facility during World War II.  I understand now that there is a golf course at Brooks.  The school was transferred to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio in 2005.  I did have some time to play golf, but had no regular players.  My golfing activities were put on hold when I became interested in shooting on the base pistol team.  That is another story told elsewhere on this site.

After completing my training at a ear, nose and throat specialist I started private practice.  I was asked by Dr. Claude Winborn to join him at his location on Gaston Avenue across the street from Baylor Hospital.  I was on the staff of multiple hospitals hoping to build a referral practice.  I was on the staff at Gaston Episcopal Hospital that was across the street from Baylor.  It was a great place to practice, as it was small and patients got excellent care.  You can use this URL to learn more about this facility.  http://www.gastonfoundation.org/our-history/

I was approached soon after I went into practice to join a new club that was still under construction, Royal Oaks Country Club, on Greenville Avenue.  It was and is a nice place to play golf.  I played on a weekly basis with men I had met there.  By this time, I had a cell phone, the size of a brick, and I almost invariably got a call while playing.  On some occasions I had to quit my game and take care of a patient.  I had no one to cover my practice during the daytime.  I had to resign from the club after my divorce in 1972, as I could no longer afford to pay the dues after the settlement with my wife.  At this point in my life, I had no tangible assets except for the potential income from my practice.  It was a bad time in my life from any perspective!

I remarried in 1974 and my new wife was interested in learning to play golf.  My dad belonged to the Northwood Club as a social membership status and I knew a little about it.  I applied for a membership and asked several of my patients to vouch for me. 

I was interested in my children learning to play if they wanted and the two boys were interested.  We sent them to a golf school one summer put on by Golf Digest where they got professional instruction for a week.  We made arrangements to play with them on a weekly basis.  My wife Jane and I played in couples tournaments on a regular basis. 

I played every Thursday afternoon on my half day off with a great group of guys.  I think as I write this in the Spring of 2017 that I am the only one left alive in that group.  Most were doctors, but not all.  I remember well John Vivian Goode, M.D. who was a very fine gentleman.  The only bad word I ever heard him say after making a bad shot was "Jesus wept" the shortest verse in the Bible. 

My golf skills improved helped by going to several golf seminars sponsored by Golf Magazine.  I had a thirteen handicap.  If I were a putter it would be better.  One of the players, Stephen Mobley, D.D.S., was the best putter in the group.  We won a tournament one time played at the Dallas Country Club.  Those years were filled with great memories of friendship and golf.

There were big changes in my life and practice that are mentioned elsewhere on this site.  It affected my golf because I left practice and went to work in the health insurance industry working for Prudential HealthCare.  I did not get any afternoon off so was restricted to play on the weekends.  This was OK and Jane and I enjoyed playing in couples tournaments that were held often.  We also played with our boys as often as we could. 

In 1994 I was offered the opportunity to have the medical director's job for Prudential in El Paso.  Jane and I thought this might be good as we had a nice vacation spot in Cloudcroft, NM and I was not may years away from "retirement."  We gave up our Northwood membership and did not join a club in El Paso but played on a very nice public course.  The only hazard was related to wildlife.  If you hit a ball off the fairway you did not look for it as you might find a rattlesnake! 

In 1997 Prudential put the HealthCare unit up for sale.  The were not making a profit.  The company moved me back to the Dallas office.  When the company was sold to Aetna more change was in the offering.  Aetna was very different from Prudential.  They were interested in the bottom line.  I decided it was time for me to retire from this job, which I did in May, 2000.  I had several part time jobs, but soon decided I wanted to go back to a medical practice and I took a part time job working for the Veteran's Administration in their Fort Worth outpatient clinic. 

When we came back to Dallas from El Paso I made friends with one of my neighbors who was a golfer and he invited me to play with his group.  One of the men of their group had died.  I played with them every week for several years and we mostly played at Stephens Park course where I had started playing as a high schooler.  Jane and I played some weekends.  Jane had pretty much lost interest in golf after we left Northwood as we both missed the friendships we made playing on the couple's tournaments. 

My golf career came to a screeching halt when I had a ruptured lumbar disk in 2012.  My doctor said I should not play.  I took his advice, as I did not want to have another ruptured disc.

I miss playing golf, I miss playing with our boys and son-in-law and especially with my wife Jane.  The memories were all good!

Yesterday, July 5, 2017, I dropped by Stephens Park on my way back from having lunch with the VA guys I worked with while working at the Fort Worth VA outpatient clinic.  My friend Gordon Frank was with me.  He had played golf there in the remote past.  I was trying to find someone who could tell me the last name of the "Charlie" I mentioned earlier.  I ran into an older man named Ben who was eating breakfast, but he had only known about Stephens for the last 30 years.  The young man at the sign in counter said he had seen Ben Perkins occasionally, but did not know anyone named Charlie.  I tried to find Ben's phone number, but it appears he no longer lives on Lausanne street.  I will need to do more looking for Ben.

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