Golf is a Big Game

Three weeks ago the Mississippi State Four Ball Championship was held in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with careful set up and administration by the Mississippi Golf Association.  Canebrake Country Club was the venue, a residentially developed track that has undergone a wonderful improvement with the resurfacing of its greens.  They have every advantage, mostly lots of young, active people living nearby to play.  It’s a very friendly track, well especially from the “Super Senior” tees, from which I was “forced” to play.

Golf was just wonderful! I made 10 birdies in 54.  Putting was fun, due to the surface of the greens, and a taste of confidence.  The fact that I was hitting the driver so well, a very unusual thing for me, made the course very short.  From these tees, a well hit driver is a ‘macho’ thing.  Never mind the rest. 

How about the friendship of golfers?  That is why I am writing this tonight.  Let’s start with my partner, a particularly wonderful gentleman, George Hinman.  



He became my friend somewhere around 1967.  Never has he fretted with my terrible game.  He keeps me for a partner because he is too good and kind to kick me away.  He is a winner. He’s won and won, been Cup Match Champ so many times.  He is also really good at this game called golf, and that means so much more than hitting and finding and hitting again a dimpled ball.  Some call him “Magic”.  He is everything wonderful about the game-a friend, a competitor, honorable, and a player too.                     For two days due to the picayune pairing system called “Who you know”, we were fortunate enough to play with two men who beat us horribly.  Who cares? Well, we cared, but not so we lost sleep.  Gene Byrd and Jack PIttman.   Here is the MGA write up:   

Gene & Jack
Gene & Jack

 Gene Byrd and Jack Pittman played great on Sunday to take home the title of the Bill Cass Super Senior Four-Ball at Canebrake CC.  Byrd/Pittman shot 68 in the final round to finish 12 under par 201. Two teams, who are former Bill Cass Super Senior Four-Ball Champions, Ken Hogue/Jerry Stubblefield and John Huntwork/Bob Eakman tied for runner up at 10 under par 203. Chris Wilson and George Hinman round out the top 4 at 206.”     


Jack, I knew first.  He, as an up and coming lawyer, worked hard way back in 1967 to help his friend Paul B. Johnson get elected Governor of Mississippi.  He was sharp and keenly aggressive, working in Jones County, Mississippi.  This was my first notion of Politics, the hard game of convincing someone to vote for your man.  He loved golf, and we’ve been friends since. Here is where people and golf and ego get confused.  Winning and losing take a back seat the next morning to something larger-friendship and respect.  Gene Byrd is a perfect example having once played in a Four Ball with a partner named Jug Allen.  My partner in the event was Joe Sanderson. We were a very competitive team on our home course.   

Gene and Jug only beat us 7 and 6, and we were 2 under par.  (If you need to know how bad that drubbing was, go ask someone.)  Fact is, they birdied 8 of the 1st 10 holes.  Joe and I did not.  We knew we were in a jam when Joe made a 45′ putt on #3 only to be covered up by Jug’s 25′ tie.  Later Gene’s 3rd shot from deep in a red clay rut from 70 yards over a ditch to within 2 feet sealed our fate that day.  We were about to win that hole, my 18′ eagle putt assuring a birdie would have gotten us on the road to a turnaround. His shot, of course, made me gag mine gaining no ground. Regardless of that resounding defeat, and you can bet that it resounded for days back at the Clubhouse, I tucked my golfing tail, took my licking, and begged Gene to teach me how to hit that shot.  He refused, but took me for a partner in another tournament instead.  

 Gee Whiz, this tournament was such fun.  Between playing golf with Gene and Jack, seeing so many other great friends like my Meridian buddy Squeaky and too many other buddies to name, then having one or two very cold lite ales after play, and then ending with a visit about an old and dear friend, Bob Travis.    

Bob Travis & me

Bob Travis & me

Thank you, Gus.  Playing competitions is just the most fun.  Put the card in your pocket, careful of the Rules, hit it, go find it, hit it again and usually in my case, go find it again.

Now, when I thank “Gus”, many more Golfers get embraced.  They live far and wide. Gus understands, and I say with the most sincere heart, that I hope you understand too.
















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