Texas Golf HOF Induction Recap
SAN ANTONIO – The next chapter of Texas Golf history was written Monday as the Class of 2016 was formally inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in a daylong ceremony of memories and celebration, capped by the formal induction banquet at San Antonio Country Club.
“I cannot tell you how many great things have happened in my life because of Texas golf,” said Blaine McCallister, who was inducted in the professional player category. “It’s such an honor to be a part of this”.
The current captain of the women’s U.S. Curtis Cup team, Robin Burke from Houston, was inducted into the amateur category, one of Texas greatest architects, Joe Finger was honored for lifetime achievement while renowned Texas Teacher Lindy Miller from Fort Worth was honored in the golf professional/teacher category. Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston was added to the Texas Registry of Historic Golf Courses.
“What a special night to honor the best of Texas Golf before their many peers and friends. This is the highest honor possible for a Texas golfer and we were thrilled to honor these deserving people,” said Jerry Smith, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.
The inductees were presented in a special roundtable discussion Monday morning at historic Brackenridge Park where their names were added to the granite marker in the TGHoF Walk of Fame among with the greatest names in Texas Golf.
Later they were formally presented at the induction banquet at nearby San Antonio Country Club and received the formal, large Gathering of Eagles Trophy which goes to each inductee.
The induction was especially meaningful to Burke, as she joined her husband Jack, the co-founder of Champions Golf Club in Houston and past Masters champion, as the only husband and wife in the Texas golf shrine.
“I appreciate everything Jack has done for me, because without him I would not be able to have the amateur career I have had,” Burke said. “He is patient and kind and very intimidating and by working with him I learned to intimidate others and not be intimidated myself. I appreciate his work and effort and passion for the game of golf in Texas.”
A native of Austin, she first came to see Burke for a putting lesson in 1983 and they were married in 1987, years after his first wife had passed away.
A five-time PGA Tour winner McCallister, who began his career in tiny Fort Stockton, said being enshrined among his fellow Lone Star players and peers is an honor that can never be taken away.
“My mother considered any tournament in Texas a major and when I finally won the (1991 PGA Tour) Texas Open, she said you’ve finally won your first major championship, but you still have majors to win in Dallas and Fort Worth and Houston.
“That’s what makes Texas golf so memorable is some many major things happened here.”
Miller grew up in Fort Worth where he worked for TGHoF member Ben Hogan at his home club, Shady Oaks Country Club
“I had a great relationship with Mr. Hogan when I worked there age 14-15, shagging balls for him on the practice range. Nobody hit it better than him ever in golf and probably (Dallas native, Lee) Trevino would be my second pick.
“He would come watch me and always be interested in how I was doing. I never told this story before, but I remember being told after he (Hogan) passed away, that he had bet $1,000 that I would win the Masters in five years starting in 1978. I’m sorry I let me down, but I glad I was able to do this (hall of fame induction).”
Miller was a four-time All-American selection playing college golf at Oklahoma State University while leading the Cowboys to a two national titles. He played a few years on the PGA Tour, before becoming the first head professional at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, started a junior golf program which became The First Tee of Ft. Worth and now serving as Director of Instruction at Shady Oaks, where he started his golf career.
“None of us takes this journey on our own and I’m thankful for those who helped me along the way,” Miller said.
Finger was a member of the Rice Golf Team and lead the Owls to a conference title before becoming a chemical engineer. He turned to golf architecture later in life, designing hundreds of courses nationally and internationally including many in the Houston area, Austin and two in Kerrville where he retired, Riverhill Country Club and Scott Schreiner golf course.
He passed away in 2003, but his wife, Julia accepted the Texas golf honor on his behalf.
“This is just very special to see Joe recognized like this for his courses. Texas was always very special to him.”
Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston opened in 1936 in the midst of the Great Depression, but has served as the home of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open in the past along with more than five million rounds by Southeast Texas golfers.
“When we first opened the green fees were 35 cents in the weekdays and 50 cents on the weekend with caddies 70 cents a round,” said Director of Golf Courses for the City of Houston Jason Harsh.
“We reopened the course in October of 1995 after a total renovation and it has always been a shrine and a great attraction to Texas golf. We are continuing to grow and prosper and get better.”
McCallister summed up the night for the honorees and those Lone Star golf fans who came to salute their green grass achievements.
“You may be able to take me out of Texas, but you will never be able to take Texas out of me.”