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"He's done chewed on it so's it won't roll."
"Well, drop another where that one was and keep playing," said Turner. Among other things, Turner is on the PGA Advisory Board, and he makes the rulings at his golf tournament.
"Where's that Australian fella?" Turner asked. That Australian fella was Bruce Crampton, whose victory in the Texas Open the week before was too late to qualify him for the Tournament of Champions, which has the Masters as its cutoff date. Someone said Crampton had finished his round.
"Then I'm going to the house," said Turner. "At 3 o'clock in the afternoon I like to get me a jug of bourbon and a jug of water and sit down and drink them and not have nobody bother me. I stay in about an hour or so. That's restful. [After resting last week he would emerge to take the wheel of his Cadillac again.] But golf is restful, too. I got interested in golf when I was in the Army down at Fort Sam Houston in World War I. I used to work for this captain. I'd shine his shoes and shine his boots and carry his golf bag, and he'd let me hit a ball now and then. Oh, I was a great soldier. I was a pilot in the cavalry. I'd clean up behind the horses on the picket line, and I'd pilot somewhere. The colonel would come along and say why did you pilot here? Pilot over there."
That was, perhaps, the only time in his life that Waco Turner had to take orders, and it left a lasting distaste for discipline. As a boy he lived with his father, who had been sent to Indian Territory by the Department of Interior to teach Indians and settlers in the little Burneyville school. Turner grew up in a cabin where a cedar tree now stands at the entrance to the grounds of Turner Lodge. He used to sell baskets of eggs and sorghum buckets of milk to Chickasaw Indians at Walnut Bayou, which was down in the valley where 60 years later Waco Turner built a golf course.
Oilmen are a mysterious lot. The old ones kept their books between their ears, and their contracts were a nod. A man who went around talking about everything he did was a fool. The survivors of the breed—men like Waco Turner, who is 73—like to leave their pasts tangled in myth and supposition, and their empires unexplained.
But the most likely story is that in 1921 Turner, who is part Chickasaw and whose first name came from the Waco Indians, another tribe in the Southwest, was a teacher in a schoolhouse at Overbrook, Okla. He had spent time at Southeastern State College in Durant, Okla. after his Army discharge, and he had recently married O. P. James, who changed the spelling to Opie so she could have a name.
Every day on the way to Overbrook, Turner passed a cable tool rig that was drilling for oil. Turner became friendly with the drillers and tool wrestlers. One evening as Turner arrived at the drilling site he smelled oil and heard gas spewing. The crew was waiting for more pipe and equipment before drilling in. The well had hit. Turner did not go home that night.
At 9 the next morning, as the students at the Overbrook school began to wonder where their teacher was, Waco rode up on a lathered, exhausted pony. He rang the school bell and dismissed class. Borrowing another horse from a neighbor, he rode away again. Before another sunrise, he was wealthy. By punishing himself and his horses, he had taken options on territory surrounding the oil field that was about to boom.
In the oil business a man can be rich one day and broke the next. It has happened to thousands, and it happened to Waco Turner. By 1931 he was hanging around the oil fields in East Texas and carrying his own mug to bum coffee from the men on the drilling rigs. Somehow, by fast talk, shrewd judgment and luck, he picked up a lease in Gregg County and persuaded a driller to put down a wildcat well for him. The oil was there. Waco Turner had his second fortune within 10 years, and he had the leisure to think about golf again as well as the money to walk around a course without having to haul a captain's clubs.