Bruce Devlin sits in front of a computer in the den of his Weatherford, Texas, home, headphones covering his ears. “(Lee Trevino) is the only professional golfer who has ever put me to bed,” says Devlin. “Many times,” adds Trevino with a laugh, speaking by iPhone from his home in Dallas.
After a few tales of misspent youth, the two vibrant octogenarians, along with podcast co-host Mike Gonzalez (joining from his home in Beaufort, South Carolina), turn to the topic of the shot-making abilities of Trevino, Ben Hogan, and Sam Snead, and then to Trevino’s life.
The interview with Trevino is part of an ambitious project spearheaded by Devlin and Gonzalez (a 66-year-old retired businessman and golf enthusiast), called Fore the Good of the Game. “We have a mission to interview all members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, men and women and other people who have had a significant influence on the game,” says Devlin.
To date, Devlin and Gonzalez have talked to close to 40 of golf’s icons, including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, Kathy Whitworth, Hale Irwin, and Deane Beman. The interviews are available, free of charge to all, at forethegoodofthegame.com.
Over the last six-plus decades, the 84-year-old Bruce Devlin has been one of golf’s more accomplished – and underappreciated – figures. He won 31 pro events throughout the world, and designed 143 golf courses in the United States, Scotland, Australia, Japan and elsewhere. Plus, for more than 20 years, he was a widely respected television commentator.
Devlin grew up in Goulburn, a small inland city between Sydney and Canberra in New South Wales, Australia. Goulburn was the hometown of three Olympic field hockey players, and as a youth Devlin hoped to make his mark in that sport. He took up golf as a teen when his father, Artie Devlin, a plumber and avid golfer, lost his right arm in a car accident and needed someone to accompany him (Artie was a 20-handicapper before the accident and lowered it to 14 playing with one arm).
In 1960, as a 23-year-old amateur, and master plumber himself, Bruce won the Australian Open. This earned him an invitation to the 1961 Masters, but he had to decline because he could not afford the expense. Clifford Roberts extended an invitation in 1962, which Devlin gratefully accepted. By then, he had turned pro. In 1964, he won the St. Petersburg Open for his first PGA tour victory, and in 1966 the Colonial National Invitational.
Devlin is especially proud of his win at Colonial, because by then he had become close to Ben Hogan, the tournament’s unofficial host. “I first met him at Augusta in 1962, when I was introduced to him by Norman Von Nida, an Australian player”, he recalls. Hogan took an immediate liking to the young Australian. “I played my first practice round with Mr. Hogan at the Masters. That was a harrowing moment for me, but we became friends and [thereafter] we played just about every practice round at the tournaments that we both entered.”
“I think Ben Hogan kind of had a pretty bad rap for some of the stories that you hear about him. You would not meet a nicer person than Ben Hogan, in my opinion.” – Bruce Devlin
In 1966, Bruce, his wife Gloria (in July, they will be married 63 years), and Ben and Valerie Hogan flew from Miami to San Francisco for the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. “We spent the entire week with him, stayed at the Top of the Mark Hotel, had dinner every night, traveled to the golf course with him, played practice rounds with him,” Devlin remembers. “It was quite a week. In particular, to hear about the horrible  accident that they were both involved in.”
Devlin got to see a part of Hogan that few did. “I think Ben Hogan kind of had a pretty bad rap for some of the stories that you hear about him,” he said. “You would not meet a nicer person than Ben Hogan, in my opinion.” Devlin was working for NBC in 1980 when the Legends of Golf was played at Onion Creek in Austin, Texas. “I was asked if I would invite Mr. Hogan to come up and spend Sunday with us in the booth. And I told our producer that probably wouldn’t happen. He’d say it was nice to get the invitation, but he wouldn’t do it. And that’s exactly what he said. He said, ‘I would be taking away from what is happening.’ So that’ll give you an idea of how he thought.”
Late in 1966, Devlin won the Carling World Open, a high-profile PGA tour event played at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England, featuring an international field (unusual for the time) and the biggest purse on the tour. With a strong game and good looks to match, Devlin was viewed as one of the tour’s blossoming stars.
Then his game went south. His earnings sank from $86,119 in 1966 to $12,726 in 1967.
“Probably because I was spending too much time on the golf architecture business,” Devlin now says. He rebounded in 1968, finishing second at the Bing Crosby Pro-Am. At the 1968 Masters, he had a three-shot lead during the second round until he had a disastrous quadruple bogey on the 11th hole. He recovered and played well the rest of the way and finished fourth, three shots behind Bob Goalby.
Devlin returned to the winner’s circle at the 1969 Byron Nelson Golf Classic, and won four more PGA Tour events between 1970 and 1972. In addition, in 1970 he won the non-tour Alcan Golfer of the Year tournament, and with fellow Aussie David Graham won the World Cup. Devlin frequently contended in the majors, with 16 top-10 finishes. He had enough staying power that in 1982, when he was 44 years old and playing part-time while doing golf commentary for NBC, he went through sectional qualifying and was the surprise 18-hole and 36-hole leader at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, won by Tom Watson. Devlin tied for 10th.
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Bruce and Gloria Devlin established roots in the United States in the 1960s. They are dual citizens of the U.S. and Australia. For most of that time they have lived in Texas. Bruce’s ties to the Lone Star State are so deep that in 2014 he was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. Bruce and Gloria have three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Long before his playing career was over, Devlin branched out into course design. One of his first commissions was the 1968 re-design of the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney with his frequent early collaborator, Robert von Hagge, a course that has hosted the Australian Open many times. Other notable courses to which Devlin’s name is attached are St. Andrews Bay in Scotland and his personal favorite, the Secession Golf Club in Beaufort, South Carolina, opened in 1992. (If it were opened today, undoubtedly it would choose a different name; the club recently removed the names of Confederate generals from tee markers, as well as a copy of the Ordinance of Secession from a wall in the clubhouse.) Devlin also had a successful run as a golf commentator, both at NBC and ESPN. He and the late Bob Rosburg at ABC can lay claim to being the first on-course roving commentators.
“You’d be surprised at how many of these are aligned with some big names. And yet the audio quality is terrible, particularly the guest quality almost to where it’s unlistenable. … I wanted to make sure with Bruce, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this in the highest quality we possibly can.” – Mike Gonzalez
The Secession club is where Devlin and Gonzalez – a past club president – met. Gonzalez originally is from Chicago and moved to Beaufort after retiring from a career running small and medium-sized companies. Upon completing his tenure as president of Secession in 2020, he had some time on his hands and came up with the idea of FORE the Good of the Game. Devlin, a pleasant man who was popular with his colleagues, and who shares with Gonzalez a deep love of the game of golf, was happy to sign on.
Gonzalez learned the process of producing a podcast from the ground up, taking the time to listen to other golf podcasts. “You’d be surprised at how many of these are aligned with some big names,” he says. “And yet the audio quality is terrible, particularly the guest quality almost to where it’s unlistenable. They may record off of a normal phone. I wanted to make sure with Bruce, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this in the highest quality we possibly can.”
So far, Gonzalez and Devlin have succeeded. FORE the Good of the Game uses Riverside.fm as a platform and the sound quality is excellent. Gonzalez has not yet mastered editing, so the interviews appear mostly in their entirety. The hosts guide the guests as they tell their stories, and some guests are more interesting than others. Larry Nelson, who was not known as having a colorful personality during his playing days, is particularly engaging in his interview. But all of the podcasts contain interesting stories that the listener may not have heard before. For instance, Trevino tells of getting into trouble as a 17-year-old and being escorted by a Dallas police officer to a Marine Corps recruiting office. “It’s the best thing I ever did,” Trevino states. “It absolutely settled me down. It gave me some vision. I spent four years in there.”
Approximately 135 of the interviews have been uploaded to the website. About 60 are extended interviews of 30-45 minutes, while about 70 are “short tracks” of just a few minutes. They make for perfect binge-listening during a long car ride or a workout on a treadmill (warning: the intro and outro for every interview – even the short tracks – are snippets from Bing Crosby’s “Straight Down the Middle,” which gets old quickly).
FORE the Good of the Game is a labor of love for Devlin and Gonzalez, who make no money from the project. Should sponsors be found, they will donate any funds after operating costs to Devlin’s family foundation, which promotes junior golf, and to scholarship funds established in memory of two Secession Club members who died in the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.
“Our ultimate goal is to find a permanent home for all of these podcasts, so golfers in the future, who never had an opportunity to see some of these players, can listen to how they got started, who influenced their game, and what victories they had,” says Devlin. “Basically, tell their life stories.”
Already, the USGA and the World Golf Hall of Fame have expressed an interest in being a repository.
Is Devlin worthy of the WGHOF himself? With his 31 wins worldwide, his failure to win a major probably is what has kept him out as a player.
“Sure, I’m biased, but considering his many contributions to the game as a standout player, prolific course designer, pioneering golf broadcaster and now podcaster, Bruce Devlin is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration,” Gonzalez opines. “I just hope the work he and I are doing in capturing the life stories of the greats of the game will remind everyone what a great champion Bruce Devlin was and is.”
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