My father, the late Harley Biggs, Sr., was a great amateur golfer. He just loved to play golf and he managed to play just about every course in Tulsa and this part of the state.
He was a natural athlete and won letters in baseball, basketball and football at Cherokee High School. Dad played minor league baseball and might have made it to the majors except his career was interrupted by World War II (he fought under Gen. George Patton in the Battle of the Bulge and won a Purple Heart).
When I was a kid, he used to take me to the driving range at the Fairgrounds on the northwest corner of Yale Avenue and 21st Street. It’s now a waterpark but back then, you could hit a big bucket of golf balls for about a buck (it might have been 50 cents).
Man, he could really drive that golf ball.
I learned to hit the ball pretty well but I never took to golf. I never seemed to have the time or the budget to spend on that sport.
In the 1950s, Dad hit a hole in one in the amateur division of the U.S. Open. The local newspaper wrote about it and I have that clip somewhere.
He took me to a tournament in Enid one summer and I caddied for him. I did not know what I was doing. I basically just carried his clubs and tried to give him which ever one he asked for. I can remember that it was so hot that I couldn’t get enough to drink.
I never went golfing with him again.
Around 1995, the company I was working for had a golf tournament for employees. It was a scramble and I thought I should enter to impress my boss. It’s amazing how much business in America is accomplished on golf courses.
I borrowed some clubs and went to the driving range at LaFortune Park. I remembered some of the tips my Dad gave me and I started hitting the ball pretty good.
I was doing so well, that I decided I could hit it over the fence if I swung really hard. So, I did and I pulled a muscle in my right forearm. I was using muscles in a way that I normally didn’t use them. My arm became black and blue and I could barely bend my elbow.
And I was scheduled to play the next day.
The tournament was at the Sand Springs Municipal Course on the hill north of the city. It’s a beautiful course with some spectacular holes.
But I could barely move my arm.
I didn’t know the other three guys who were paired with me but they were all avid golfers. The rules of the tournament stated that each player on a team had to take so many strokes to prevent a really good player from dominating the competition. I was so bad that they only used a handful of my putts. My partners got progressively more upset with me as we progressed through the course. My lousy putts were costing us strokes and they did not like that (or me).
Our team came in second place and won some nifty prizes but none of the guys would talk to me afterwards. They were convinced I had cost them the championship trophy and they were probably right.
When I first got out of college, my old college buddies and I used to play a lot of miniature golf, mostly at Putt-Putt courses.
Back then, there was a course at 63rd Street and Peoria Avenue and at 12th Street and Memorial Drive. Both of those 18-hole courses are gone now. Even if they were still there, I don’t think I would want to play miniature golf in those locations (especially after dark).
We got to be pretty good at Putt-Putt. Par for every hole was two strokes and we could usually come in under 36 strokes on 18 holes.
We got to know every curve and every obstacle (like the rotating windmill) and we became adept at hitting the ball just right. It was sort of like playing pool outdoors with a putter.
Our biggest problem was we played fast and their were some “recreational” players who always seemed to slow us up. And, let’s face it, it was miniature golf and some people didn’t see it as competitive.
Putt-Putt is still around but apparently the only course left in Oklahoma is in Enid. If you have a birthday party there, each guest can get two rounds of golf, a little cup of ice cream, one small soft drink and party balloons for $7 per guest. That’s a good deal but I don’t I will drive to Enid to play miniature golf.
I played some other miniature golf courses, including the one at Bell’s Amusement Park (which used to be at the Fairgrounds). None of them were as much fun as Putt-Putt.
None of my kids have taken to real golf, although my daughter was on the golf team in middle school for awhile. I think she just lost interest.
Now that I am getting toward senior status, I kind of wish I had taken up golf because you can play it for more of your life, even the “golden years.”
But I still have the same problem – no time.
In a March 23 column, I wrote that Chuck Connors, star of The Rifleman, starred as Tommy Kirk in the movie Old Yeller. Connors actually played Burn Sanderson in Old Yeller.