My father taught me golf the way he was taught it by Harvey. Not that he ever called him that. It was always Mr. Penick. Dad must have started 10,000 sentences to me with the words, "As Mr. Penick would say ... " Mr. Penick spoke not of the U.S. Open, but of the National Open, and so did my father. I doubt that was a coincidence.
Harvey was a model for how my father taught golf, as he was for many other teachers. In the early 1950s, my father, Davis Love Jr., was a good schoolboy golfer in Arkansas. Harvey was the head pro at the Austin Country Club and the golf coach at Texas. He recruited my father to the university, I imagine sight unseen. No high-resolution e-mail attachments of youthful golf swings in those days. What my father had were junior titles in Arkansas and write-ups in the El Dorado newspaper. He left for Texas at 17 and played for Harvey for three years before being drafted into the Army.
Those were important years, and not simply because Harvey made my father a much better player. My father's teammate Ed Turley will tell you: Harvey and my father were cut from the same cloth. They both lived to be on the range, looking at swings.
Harvey became like a second father to my dad, with a personality distinctly different from his own father's. My paternal grandfather was strict and formal, but a sort of boom-and-bust oilman entrepreneur. In good times he drove a big black Lincoln. Harvey had a warm and unimposing manner, and he held that one job at the Austin Country Club pretty much his entire life. He didn't seem to have any material needs. He lived simply. He was absorbed with the act of teaching and the desire to help a player improve. He had a servant heart.
For many decades now, the PGA of America has held special seminars where club and teaching pros learn how to teach from "master" teaching pros. My father would invite Harvey to speak at those sessions. In the 1970s and '80s, when my father was on the Golf Digest teaching staff and active in the Golf Digest golf schools, he would often bring in Harvey as a guest instructor. He was always picking things up from Harvey. My father knew about the little red book long before it became Harvey Penick's Little Red Book. My father did something similar, writing down little squibs about what worked and what did not in golf instruction. He kept his notes on long yellow legal pads.
There are so many things that Harvey told my father that my father told me, things that I am now telling my teenage son, Davis Love IV, who goes by Dru. Dad used to tell a story about being on the range one day at Austin when Harvey came by.
"What you doing, Davis?" Harvey asked.
"I'm hitting six-irons at that mound," my father said.
"Good. Now I'd like to see you hit a five-iron at that mound."
My father hit a few.