SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
August 16, 1965
Goat Hills is gone now. It was swallowed up almost four years ago by the bulldozers of progress, and in the end it was nice to learn that something could take a divot out of those hard fairways. But all of the regular players had left long before. We had grown up at last. Maybe it will be all right to talk about the place now, and about the people and the times we had. Maybe it will be therapeutic. At least it will help explain why I do not play golf so much anymore. I mean, I keep getting invited to Winged Head and Burning Foot and all those fancy clubs we sophisticated New Yorkers are supposed to frequent, places where, I hear, they have real flag sticks instead of broom handles. It sounds fine, but I usually beg off. I am, frankly, still over golfed from all those years at Goat Hills in Texas. You would be, too, if.... Well, let me tell you some of it. Not all. I will try to be truthful and not too sentimental. But where shall I begin? With Cecil? Yeah, I think so. He was sort of a symbol in those days, and...
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 16, 1965

The Glory Game At Goat Hills

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

John the Band-Aid, who wore glasses and a straw hat and kept a handkerchief tied around his neck for protection against sunburn, rarely observed honors on the tee. In fact, the game sort of worked in reverse etiquette. The players who were losing teed off first.

"I'm gonna hit this one right into young Stadium Drive," said John, impatiently. The 9th at the Hills was a long par-4. The tee was on a bluff, above a desperate drop-off into a cluster of undernourished hackberry trees, a creek, rocks and weeds. Ideally, the drive had to carry over the trees and creek and into the uphill fairway, leaving about a seven-iron to the green. Stadium Drive was behind the green.

As John the Band-Aid went into his backswing, Little Joe said, "Hit it, Daddy."

John said, "Mother, I'm hittin' hard as I can." He curved a wondrous slice into the right rough, and coming off of his follow-through slung the club in the general direction of Eagle Mountain Lake, just missing Little Joe. The Band-Aid's shot irritated Little Joe, and so did the flying club. "Man, man," said Joe. "They ought to put me in a box and take me to the state fair for bein' in this game."

I was fairly mad, too. One under par and no money ahead. Maybe that's why I pointed the scooter straight down the hill and let it run. We were almost instantly out of control. "Son of a young...," said Joe, holding on. The scooter zoomed, but the front wheel struck a boulder and, like a plane taking off, we were in the air. I sailed straight over the front, and Joe went out the right side. The scooter, flipping and spewing clubs, landed on both of us, mostly on my left leg.

I think I was out for about 10 seconds before I heard all of the laughter behind me and felt the clubs and rocks underneath. They pulled the scooter off, and off Joe's white canvas bag—or what was left of it. Battery acid had been jolted out of the scooter and was already beginning to eat away at the bag.

"I got two says Joe don't have a bag before we get to 18," said Magoo. Foot called it. Although my left ankle was so swollen I had to play the rest of the way with only one shoe, we continued. It was on the 14th green that we noticed Magoo was a winner. When Joe went to pick up his bag after putting out, the only things left were the top metal ring, the bottom, the wooden stick and the shoulder strap. Not only that, Joe's left pants leg was going fast.

In or out of a runaway scooter, our game frequently took odd directions. Bored, we often played Goat Hills backward, to every other hole, to every third hole, entirely out of bounds except for the greens (which meant you had to stay in the roads and lawns), with only one club or at night, which was stimulating because of all the occupied cars parked on the more remote fairways. One of the most interesting games we invented, however, was the Thousand-yard Dash. This was a one-hole marathon. It started at the farthest point on the course from the clubhouse—and ended at the chipped-out place in the concrete on the porch.

I have forgotten who invented it. Most likely it was either Foot the Free or myself or Matty, for we had once played from the Majestic Theater to the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth—anything off Throckmorton Street was out of bounds—without getting arrested. At any rate, there were 12 of us who each put $5 in the pot and started flailing away, cutting across fairways, intruding on other games, cursing and carefully counting the strokes of those who had chosen the same route as ours. Some went to the left of the stone rest room, some went to the right. I followed Foot the Free because he could never afford to lose. He carried the same $5 bill, I think, for eight years. We hit a hooked driver, another hooked driver, a third hooked driver and then a hooked three-wood—you had to hook at the Hills to get the roll—and that got us both within pitching distance of the porch. The others were out of it by now, lost in the creek or in the flower beds of the apartment houses that bordered the No. 1 fairway.

My approach shot carried the concrete porch, hit hard against the clubhouse wall, chased Wells Howard, the pro, back inside the door, brought a screech from his wife, Lola, glanced off one of the rock pillars and finally came to rest—puttable if I moved a chair—about 20 feet from the hole.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10