Pekin Chinks Golf Season - 1962 Home
I was the number one golfer my senior year and the other four regulars were all friends of mine. The number two golfer was Scottie Kellogg whom I had been playing with for several years. He had taken lessons from my dad and his dad had been a good golfer who had a drinking problem. Scottie took me one night to meet him at a bar he was working at. I had heard about some of his rounds and how his putting had driven him from the game. The number three and four golfers were Daryl Hornecker and John Schaefer whom Scottie and I had played with a lot the previous two summers. Scottie and I had been on the freshman and sophomore basketball team for awhile before he quit. The summer of 1960 he and I and Daryl had gotten drunk and played nine holes. Scottie was a little wild and he was always pushing me to do something I was hesitant to do.
John Schaefer's parents had been members at PCC and I had played with and against John as a junior golfer. As a twelve year old I played him in the 18 hole finals of the junior club championship and I was only one over after six holes and was six up on him. He made a comeback and I wound up winning 3 and 2.
One of our first matches was at home against Richwoods and Bobby Moreland, the best team and player in the conference. It was early April and it was in the 40s and windy. The cold and my home course advantage was too much for Bobby as I shot a 39 and beat him. When Dawdy saw the card he was really surprised and said “Wow – nice round in this weather Mike.” We still got beat but I had gotten off to a good start beating the best high school golfer in the conference. As the season progressed both me and the team went on a winning streak and we only had one loss when Galesburg came to play us at Parkview, the public course across the tracks from the PCC. Parkview was a par 35-35=70. Galesburg's number one golfer was Joff Eyre one of the best golfers in the state who would later win the high school state championship. I wanted to be sure I was ready for him and Scottie and Daryl talked me into skipping my afternoon classes and going out to the course to play a practice round. We ran into Mike Dingerson out there and the four of us teed it up. As we were standing on the ninth tee Dawdy was driving by on Broadway next to the course and he pulled over and got out of his car and asked us what we thought we were doing. We admitted we had cut classes and he threatened to forfeit the match or replace all of us. So as we played the ninth hole we weren't even sure if we were going to play.
Dawdy let us play probably hoping Galesburg would win and teach us a lesson. Now I really had motivation to shoot well. There were wind gusts up to 40 mph that day. After three holes I was even par but having to scramble for pars. On the fourth hole which was a par four I chipped in for a birdie. The fifth hole was another par four and I hit it to within a couple feet and was two under. The sixth hole was a par three and I parred it. The seventh hole was a short par four with the wind behind us and I had a 50 yard pitch to the flag and I put it ten feet and made the putt. I was three under. The eight hole was a long par three and I hit a three wood to the fringe and got up and down. The ninth hole was a par four into the wind so I was just hoping to par it. I got on in two but about 40 feet away. The wind was blowing so strong it was going to affect the putt and I really had no idea how hard to hit it. I went to hit the putt and had to take such a long backswing that I scruffed the ground before I hit the ball and I thought it was going to be way short and I started cussing as the ball started rolling toward the hole. However the wind just kept blowing the ball closer toward the hole until it dropped into the cup. Joff just looked on in disbelief as I had just shot a four under 31 on the front nine.
As we got to the 11th tee Scottie approached me from the 10th green asking me what I shot. I told him and he got mad and said “Come on, What'd you shoot?” I told him again and he finally believed me. He had shot 33 and figured he had finally beaten me.
On the back nine which was a little more difficult I started playing defensive just trying to shoot 18 holes under par and I wound up with a 37 on the back which was a 68 total. We were playing three point medal play so although Joff shot 73 we had tied the back nine so I had beaten him 2 ½ to ½. We took our scorecards and handed them to Dawdy who was still pissed off about us skipping afternoon classes. He looked at my card and said “Where's the real card?” He didn't believe the 31. I said that was the real card. He looked to Joff for confirmation. He immediately started complementing me on the round and asked me if I knew I had 6 threes in a row. Actually I didn't as I hadn't thought about it. Anyway I had made up for my playing hookey and got off the hook with Dawdy. Our team won something like 11 ½ – 3 ½ as everybody had played pretty well. The sports page the next day headlined the golf news with “Hall Shoots 68.” In the article it broke down the 31 on the front nine mentioning that I had six threes in a row.
We still only had one loss and I was still undefeated as we went to Peoria to play Woodruff. Their number one golfer - Bill Bart - was a left hander who was pretty good and a likeable fellow but he was going too far when he beat me that day. I was really disappointed with my performance that day and didn't say a word on the ride home. It was my first loss, but at least our team had won.
Both Manual and Limestone played at the Madison Park golf course which was a short 5500 yard par 69 course. Neither of them usually had that good of a golf team as their schools were in the poorer section of town. We traveled to the Madison course to play Limestone a nine hole medal match and I wasn't playing that well and was starting to worry when I sank a long putt on number five for a birdie. I birdied the next two holes and was two under going into the ninth hole when I duck hooked my drive out of bounds. I had the match won but I was upset and I wound up giving my opponent a birdie chip just to get it over with and he was real happy about that.
I can't remember the away match with Manual but I assume the one black player that I remember beating at Parkview was from Manual. I believe he was left handed and he hit a big round hook. He was a pretty good golfer and the only black golfer I had ever played against. I'm sure he wasn't too comfortable with coming to lily white Pekin to get beaten but golf has a way of erasing color barriers.
I really expected to get beat when I went to the return match with Bobby Moreland at Richwood. I wasn't that familiar with the course and I was sure he was going to be itching for revenge for his earlier loss to me. The first hole was a par four and my par putt had stopped on the edge of the hole and as I went up to knock in my bogie putt Bobby said “Hold on – That ball is going to drop.” I stopped and looked on for a few seconds but it didn't appear to me that it had a chance I said “I don't think so.” He stood over the ball to shade it from the sun for so long I was getting embarrassed. He apparently knew his course well because it eventually fell in and I had a par to match his. I thanked him and we went to the next hole. I didn't know how to take that. How could I go on to beat someone that nice? When we got to the sixth hole I was one over and one down. The sixth hole was a long par four which I didn't even reach in two but I had a 10 foot par putt to win the hole and get even which I made. My short game was the best part of my game. The seventh hole was a par four with out of bounds on the right. Bobby hit a draw which could sometimes get away from him. In an attempt to prevent his draw from turning into a hook he had over corrected and hit one out of bounds. Here was my chance. If I could par this hole I would be one up match play and two up medal play. I was able to par the hole. The eight hole was a birdieable par four. Bobby wound up above the hole with a 15 foot down hill thriller which he promptly rolled in the hole for a birdie. I needed to make mine to stay ahead. I felt confident as I was hole high about 12 feet from the hole with a little break to the left. A Richwood teammate of Bobby had started following us and Bobby told him I would knock it in on top of him and I did. Going into nine I was still one up match play and two up medal play. The ninth hole was a dogleg left par four. As I approached my drive and looked up to the green I saw Dawdy standing by the green. I had an eight iron uphill shot to get to the middle of the green, but the pin was on the left side of the green near a 10 foot drop off. All I needed was a par which I figured I could get from the front middle of the green or even from just in front of the green. I hit a nine iron to be safe and came up just short of the green with 90 feet to the hole. Bobby knew he needed to get it close but he overdid his draw and wound up down in the gully about pin high. As hard as his next shot was going to be I was counting on him getting it up and down from there. He hit a masterful pitch and somehow stopped it five feet above the hole. But he still had a tricky downhill putt. I knew I had to get up and down to be sure of winning both points. Shades of my dad years earlier when he flubbed a chip shot playing with Sam Snead. I chunked the chip shot about 3 feet and still wasn't on the green. What did I do? Was I trying to give Bobby back the shot he had saved me on the first hole? Hell no. I was so upset I didn't take any time on the next shot and just hit it right away. Luckily it finished three feet below the hole and I took my putter and headed for the hole. Bobby was starting to prepare for his putt thinking I was going to mark but I just walked up and said I would finish. I barely lined up the putt. It was very careless and I was lucky as hell that I made it. I almost blew another finish. Now Bobby had to make a very tricky putt to get a ½ point. He did and my 37 beat his 38 for one point for medal play while we tied the match play. So I had beaten him 1 ½ to ½. However our team lost 5 ½ to 3 ½. At least my fluffed chip shot hadn't cost us the match. We still would have lost 5 – 4 if I had parred the last hole. I still only had one loss. But now the team had two losses – both to Richwood.
Finally my chance to get even for my only loss came when Woodruff came to Parkview to play a nine hole combination match/medal play match. Bill Bart had to be taught a lesson for having the audacity to beat me and I hung it on him that day shooting a three under 32 on the front nine and beating him handily.
I finished the season with only one loss and our team had about three losses I think. The time came for post season tourneys and we were entered in one at Galesburg's home course which was known as a tough course and I was scheduled to tee off first with Joff Eyre. I could feel that I was going to be in for a rough day as everybody was gunning for the guy who had beat Joff by shooting a 68.
The first hole was a 145 yard par three. That was a seven iron for me but they announced what club you hit off the first tee and trying to be macho I took an eight iron. I wound up short of the pin to the right of the green and couldn't get up and down and bogied the first hole. It wasn't a good start and it got worse as the round went on. I just couldn't get anything going and got more frustrated as the round went on. As we got to the 17th tee I was totally frustrated and 9 over par. I'm sure Joff was enjoying seeing me get thrashed by his home course. I finally was able to birdie the 17th hole and finally went from total frustration and helplessness to a determination to at least finish strong. Joff was three or four over par so I had no hope of beating him. The ninth hole was an uphill par four and I hit a seven iron into the green and was upset that I underclubbed and wound up about 35 feet short of the pin. As I came to the green I saw Dawdy standing on the back of the green. I was so much into making the next putt I just ignored him. I spent a good deal of time looking at the putt from all angles. I wanted that putt as bad as any in my life. If it didn't go in I knew I was going to be pissed at myself for quite a while. When it went in the cup Dawdy exclaimed “Nice Putt!!” I just thanked him as my attitude was “It's about fuckin time.” I could see Joff looking at me like “Thank God this is the last hole. I don't need to see him go on another birdie binge.” I was still not happy with my performance that day but the next week at school Dawdy had a golf meeting at which he gave me the fifth place medal which I hadn't even realized I had won. Somebody shot 74 and I think Joff shot 75 or 76.
The state qualifying tourney was to be held at Moorland's home course. I was great at match play but I wasn't that good at medal play when I wasn't familiar with the course. I didn't break 80 that day but I played with Bobby and on the back nine his dad came out and Bobby introduced me to him. I had told Bobby in our first match that my dad had told me he used to play against his dad in the 40s. I wasn't aware that he had played in the 34 masters until the 90s when I saw a picture of the players at a country club in Venice Florida.
Joff Eyre went on to win the state title a few weeks later.