"I'm dad-bam finished," he said, panting. "This is my last day on any golf course, ever. You picks have guyed me damn stick." He was so mad he couldn't talk straight. "Enough and I'm done. Rotten, stinking, miserable game." He was, of course, back the next day.
After I holed out a 30-foot putt to halve a gimme birdie one afternoon, Vossler left for good. He moved on to bigger things, to the big-money games at Ridglea, to become city champion, state amateur champion, ultimately on to the PGA tour. I have always considered Ernie our honor graduate, although Edwards may outdo him.
Jerry could drive the ball four miles, or roughly the distance to old Paschal High School (now Tech), a Gibraltar of formative education that turned most of us out with degrees in Library Pass Forging, Double Lunch Period Registration, Boiler Room Smoking, Chug-a-Lug, Basketball and Marriage. Except for a recurring Goat Hills temper, Jerry has a sound game and has been in the money many times on the PGA tour. So far, however, his greatest publicity came when he was rumored to have gone AWOL from the Army in 1962 to play in the U.S. Open.
"A true Hills man," Magoo said.
Although Vossler and Edwards were the only two who succeeded, all of us at one time, I believe, envisioned a pro career. Easy Reid, for example, bought a huge black bag and an umbrella and some alligator shoes and turned pro, but the closest he came to the big time was missing the cut at the Odessa Pro-Am with me as a partner. Grease Repellent turned pro after he shot 62 at Goat Hills, eight under, breaking the course record that five of us held at 65. But he did not go on the tour, and I don't think he took a club job. He only refused to play in any more amateur tournaments, which he didn't play in anyhow.
Sadly, my own dreams were constantly interrupted by reality. The first time was early in the State Junior at San Antonio, when I was defeated 3 and 2 by a cross-handed Mexican wearing tennis shoes. Thirsting for some sort of revenge, I returned the following year and lost to a barefoot 14-year-old who had only five clubs.
But if those experiences were not enough to convince me. the Waxahachie Invitation should have. The Waxahachie Invitation was not exactly the Masters tournament of Texas, but it did draw a few celebrities: Cherry, Stewart, Maxwell, Conrad, for example. I know it was an unusually strong field one particular year because it took 70 to qualify for 30 of the 32 places in the championship flight. Unluckily, I shot 71 along with 11 others, so there had to be a playoff—swatfest, it was called—for the last two places. A playoff meant a gallery. Bad deal.
We began swinging, and nine players bogeyed the first sudden-death hole and were eliminated. (I envied them all.) One player got a birdie and was in. Two of us made pars and had to go another hole for the remaining berth or the privilege of being thrashed 6 and 5 the next day by a Cherry, a Stewart, a Maxwell or a Conrad.
My opponent was a tall fellow named Shelby, and I did not realize until a few years later that it was the same Carroll Shelby who raced sports cars. This might have been the thing that drove him to it. The crowd stayed—the ritualistic barbecue and dice game were still a good hour off—and it had no respect for either of us. As we stood on the tee, perspiring from fright, I heard someone say, "Who you want?" And the reply: "Aw, neither one. They both chili dippers."
Whatever Shelby did, I did better. He hooked, I hooked. He hit over the fence, I hit over the fence. The giggles trailed us endlessly. He got lost in the gully, I got lost in the gully. He landed in the bunker, I landed in the bunker. At one point I heard a man say, "Well, I been to the Dublin Rodeo, I've met the Light Crust Doughboys and I've stepped across the Mississippi where it ain't but a foot wide, but I never seen nothin' like this." Finally, perhaps through a bookkeeping error, I won the hole with a 10.