In his dreams Dave Williams was always Coach. Coach Dave Williams from the little blackland farm town of Randolph, Texas, who went away to find sweet success at the big university. His real name was Glenwood Williams but his uncle said that was no kind of name to load on a child and made them change it to David G., and in time people dropped the Glenwood. Dave Williams saw himself as the raw material for another Dana X. Bible. Or a Bear Bryant. He would have loved to have been Bear Bryant. He had played all the sports. He was even a star of medium dimension in some of them, and he told his brothers Noble and Clovis—uncle had not rescued them—that he was straight out going to be a coach. But it did not happen that way. David Williams got sidetracked early in life by commonplace needs, and he wound up teaching engineering. He was 28 years old and he was settled in the business of ramming thermodynamics into the heads of students at the University of Houston when he and Noble set about looking for something athletic to do, something to keep the abdomen hard and the arteries soft.
"I said to Noble, 'Noble, we can't play football or basketball anymore, but we've been in athletics all our lives, we gotta find something,' and we found a set of old golf clubs out in Clovis' garage. Golf was one sport I'd never tried. Never had a club in my hand. We didn't even know where to get balls. We went to this auto supply store and they had some. Two dollars a dozen. No telling what kind they were. And the place we picked to play was Glenbrook. Of all places to play, we picked Glenbrook."
The Glenbrook Municipal Golf Course is the Venice of Houston. They should hold regattas on it instead of golf tournaments. Canals and creeks run all through it. Before noon they had lost two dozen balls, and those they had not lost they had grievously wounded.
"I said to Noble, 'I don't believe we can afford this game.' Noble looks after his money pretty good. That's why he's got some now and I haven't. But we got more balls and went out again after lunch.
"We got around to the 6th hole, a dogleg right at Glenbrook, and we only had a few balls left. Noble hooked one in the water. 'Dadgummit, I'm going to hit another,' he said, and he hit another in the water, and another. 'I got one ball left. What's my score?' I said about 10. He put the ball down and got out his putter and began punching the ball up the fairway and counting, '11...12...13....' I got down on the ground and rolled in the grass laughing. He took 24 shots, and when he got it in the cup he said, That's it. Goodby. That's all I'm going to play,' and he hasn't played since."
Dave Williams kept playing. He was on the course at 7 every morning and he played until his first class at 11. He tried every grip he saw—one finger over, two fingers over, three fingers, the baseball grip. He had learned to play the guitar watching other people make chords, and now he watched golfers. He got so he could shoot a 95. Then he started playing with the Houston athletic director, a man named Harry Fouke, who liked him and was amazed at how much he knew about athletics. Fouke is a friendly man. He introduced Dave to "robins," a system of friendly golf-wagering for friendly golfers. Harry Fouke and the two other coaches that played in the group could shoot 75s, and when Dave arrived home his wife Ginny would say, "What happened to all your money?" and Dave would say, "Well, greens fees are pretty steep and I had to buy some gas."
But one day Dave shot a 74 and he won, and the next day he shot another 74 and won some more, and Harry Fouke, who was a busy man and had been coaching the University of Houston golf team on the side, said, "Dave, old boy, how would you like to be the golf coach? The University of Houston golf coach?"
"What do I have to do?"
"Go out and pass out some balls and tell the boys to get after it. That's all."
"O.K. All right. Yes, I'll do it."