September 3, 2017

Dale Douglass - Golfer and Gentleman

Had the pleasure to play golf last month with Dale Douglass at Lakewood Country Club in Lakewood, Colorado. Both Dale and I have ties to Lakewood Country Club and have fond memories of our time that we spent there and the effect on our careers.

Dale was employed by Gene Root, Colorado Golf Hall of Fame and longtime Lakewood head professional in `1962 to be the teaching professional and shop assistant. He promised he would get him a head professional position or put together a group of members to sponsor him on Tour. Dale wanted to play, so Gene made good on his promise and in 1963, Dale went full-time to play on the PGA Tour. Some Lakewood members still have their first check of $1.27, which was their share from Dale's first check that he made at the San Francisco Open. Nobody made much money from their sponsorship, but Dale was eternally grateful for Lakewood and their faith in him to give him his start on his PGA Tour career.

Dale's career included three regular PGA wins and eleven PGA Senior (Champions) Tour victories, including the 1986 US Senior Open. He consistently was in the top leading money winners during his playing days on the Senior Tour. But one thing that is always mentioned about Dale is that he is a gentleman. He played the game with respect and courtesy. The galleries never heard a bad word or saw a slammed club. The worst would be, "Oh, Dale, why did you go and do that."

During the height of his Senior Tour success, he asked Lakewood Country Club if he could give a clinic for the membership. We had a great turnout for the teaching seminar and 18 hole playing exhibition that followed. Dale and I played with alternating members in a Scotch format match that wasn't decided until the eighteenth hole. It was a small thank you for the support and friendship that he had for the membership at Lakewood.

Dale is now 81 years old. His drives now go 200 yards and not as consistent as before, but it's still the same silky smooth rhythmical swing I remember watching many years ago. He is still using his old fashion MacGregor Tommy Armour putter that he has had since first going on Tour. His wedge is a 1970 era Wilson Staff Dynapower sand wedge that looked brand new. Since he was a Wilson Staff tour player for over 30 years, he claims to have the largest collection of this particular sand wedge. So the club was new, but it was manufactured almost fifty years ago. Only complaint that he voiced was that growing old is tough. He wondered what happened to his clubhead speed. But he thoroughly enjoyed the company of myself, the general manager of Lakewood, another Lakewood member, along with Colorado Hall of Fame member, John Gardner riding around and viewing the action.

What I enjoyed most was getting to play on Lakewood's classic golf course with wonderful company. Being able to play and catching up with Dale Douglass was a special treat. If they write a way to age gracefully in life and golf, I want to be like Dale. He still plays four to five times a week at his club in Castle Pines. He doesn't play like the major Senior Champion that he once was, but he is playing the best that he can and he doesn't begrudge the fact he can't do what he used to do. He is playing the game like a gentleman, giving the game his respect and enjoying playing the great game that it is.


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