With 21 individuals in the World Golf Hall of Fame, Texas has more inductees than 11 nations combined, but leave it to the latest from the Lone Star state, Fort Worth writer Dan Jenkins to enshrine another first.
As the class of 2012 was going through pre-induction interviews, Jenkins, the white-haired patron saint of Texas golf writers and lovers of funny golf books everywhere, kept tapping his fingers on the chair displaying a large ring.
Finally, one media member asked Jenkins, known as “His Own Self” by many of his Texas friends and sometimes in his books, if he had played in the Super Bowl or where he got such a big ring.
“Nope,” Jenkins said, “that’s a TCU Rose Bowl ring from the undefeated 2010 football season. But I was planning to take it off for the induction.”
That’s Jenkins, a dyed-in-the-(purple)-wool Texan and TCU fan who will cover his 212th major next month at the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, and at least that many wearing a TCU baseball cap.
Proof again you can take the writer out of Texas, but never Texas out of the writer.
With his induction as the first living golf writer in the WGHOF, Jenkins continues the long string of Lone Star highlights at golf’s honor hall. Its greatest gentleman (Byron Nelson), fiercest competitor (Ben Hogan), most unlikely superstar (Lee Trevino) and most inspirational Ryder Cup captain (Ben Crenshaw).
Jenkins grew up in an earlier Texas era that produced dozens of Texas golf champions, including his home city golfers Hogan and Nelson, but also made golf a major sport in a still-growing state.
“When I grew up all we had was college football, (semi-pro) baseball and golf. That was the third most popular sport in the state and it was huge,” Jenkins said in recalling his Lone Star roots. “Those were our heroes.”
Despite some of the funniest books and funniest book/story titles in golf history, “The Money-Whipped Steer-Job Three-Jack Give-Up Artist,” “The Glory Game at Goat Hills,” “The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate” and “You Gotta Play Hurt,” Jenkins had plenty of game himself.
He was a four-year golf letterman at TCU and was the last player to defeat former college star and state amateur champion Morris Williams, Jr., in college, before Williams was killed in a military plane training accident.
Jenkins played in plenty of Texas Golf Association and other amateur golf events before he found his calling writing about the game, namely Hogan and Nelson.
Jenkins, who often would have a cigarette in his hand and sometimes a drink, could have a crusty outer exterior, much like Hogan, but a kinder side once you got to know him.
I’ll certainly never forget the first time I met him in person. My father had worked with him briefly at The Fort Worth Press and Star-Telegram in the 1960s and told me to introduce myself if I ever saw him at a tournament.
I was covering my first major championship, the 1990 PGA Championship, and there was Jenkins in the media center, typing, yes on a typewriter, crafting another soon-to-be-brilliant story, and smoking.
Sensing the moment, I hustled up to him and quickly blurted out that my dad had worked with him in Fort Worth back in the 1960s and I just wanted to say, “Hi.” He turned slowly, looking at me, blew a big cloud of smoke in my direction, and uttered a one-word response.
“So?” he said, as I slinked back to my seat in the media center.
But years later when I was writing my book on the history of golf in Texas, Jenkins took a full hour to talk with me at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth about his decades in Lone Star golf, the people he knew and the many things he had seen.
So when it finally came time to be honored at the WGHOF, Jenkins, TCU Rose Bowl ring (but no Horned Frog baseball hat) on hand, came close, but failed to break one more record.
He brought 55 family members and friends with him, mainly from Fort Worth, carrying nicknames like Mongo, Moron Tom, Foot the Free, Puke and Big Jer, to celebrate. That fell just short of the HOF friends and family record of 70 set, naturally, by another Texan, Crenshaw.
So Dan, from all your Texas golf friends and many admiring Lone Star fellow writers, congratulations. You’ve always been a Hall of Famer to us.
As reported earlier this spring, the first U.S. National Developmental Junior Golf Team is being formed this summer with a heavy Texas coaching influence. The first Southwest Regional tryouts were held in late April with the goal of having a final team in three skill levels by the summer.
The Texas teachers include: Southwest Region Program Director Tom Relf, Briggs Ranch Golf Club, San Antonio; Mark Steinbauer, Carlton Woods Golf Club, The Woodlands; Corey Lundberg, Carlton Woods Golf Club, The Woodlands; and Brad Lardon, Miramont Golf Club, Bryan.
Several of the final spots of the 2012 British Open will be decided, not in England this summer, but in Plano, May 21 as Gleneagles Country Club hosts the North American qualifier. Now, players not exempt into this year’s field will have a chance to qualify for the Open in July without having to go to the U.K. to do it. The 36-hole qualifier will be held the Monday between the Byron Nelson and Colonial, when most PGA Tour pros are in town.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur will be held at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio, Oct. 6-11, and the USGA soon will be announcing another national championship, the U.S. Junior Amateur to be held at a Houston-area course in 2014.