Earl's Recent Past Golf Blog's

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.

August 14, 2017

Another Young Gun Wins a Major

The PGA Championship was a grand climax to an interesting major championship season. Another young gun, Justin Thomas, emerged with the title that puts him in the ranks of the elite players in the game. Grandson of a PGA professional and son of a PGA professional, the PGA of America couldn't ask for a better representative to be their champion.

Quail Hallow Golf Club emerged as the other winner this week. It proved to be a major championship quality golf course that was tough, but would yield if you hit the proper shots. The rough was penal, but the width of the fairway was generous enough to not take the driver out of the hands of the players. Championship courses should require accuracy, both on driving and approach shots. The winning score of eight under is a good indication of the strength of the golf course that was not tricked up or hampered by severe weather conditions.

As the final round started, the leaderboard had only one player with a major title that had a realistic chance of winning. Winning a major validates your career and gives you a label that goes with you throughout your life. So there was a lot of pressure on these relatively inexperienced players vying for this elusive prize. At one point there were five players at 7 under par tied for the lead on the back nine. Quickly they started to drop away and Justin chipped in on 13 to get to 8 under. He could've put the tournament away on the relatively easy drivable 14th and the reachable par five 15th. But he hit poor shots and had to settle for pars. A beautiful bunker shot and clutch 8 foot putt saved his par on 16. Looking back on Justin's last five holes, only the 17th hole birdie was a well-played hole. Although it wasn't an artistic success, he did what he needed and didn't fold to the pressure. A more experienced Justin Thomas, in ten years and maybe a couple more majors, would've finished this tournament off more stylishly. Justin was the best player this week and some of his troubles down the stretch should be attributed to the golf course.

Hideki Matsuyama had a two shot lead at one point but had five bogies on the back nine. The tournament leader most of the week, Kevin Kisner had three bogies and a double when it mattered the most. Ricky Fowler, again was too little too late. Good finish, but never in contention. Patrick Reed made a valiant effort down the stretch, but couldn't find the fairway on the last hole and then made a terrible choice of club for his pitch that ended any chance for a win. Francesco Molinari lost his chance on 16 and Louis Oosthuizen's long birdie putt on 18 only made it look close. The golf course took its toll in the end and produced a player that could navigate the dangers. Justin was Jordan Spieth's equal or a little bit better record wise coming into professional golf. With this win it may springboard him to even further heights.

 

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