“Memories” – Frontpage News Article by Buddy Pearson

Greenwood appreciating past success these days

Herald-Citizen Managing Editor
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Photo Caption: Bobby Greenwood first learned to play golf at the age of 12 at the Cookeville Country Club. His accomplishments in Amateur and professional tournaments throughout his illustrious career are being recognized more and more these days.
COOKEVILLE — When you have accomplished as much in golf as Bobby Greenwood has, it’s kind of hard to keep up with it all. But the hall of famer has found a new appreciation for his success on the links. Like a treasure that’s been discovered and put in a museum for everyone to see, Greenwood’s golfing achievements have been found again and put on the Internet for the world to view. With the help of his wife Elma, Greenwood’s storied golf career is chronicled on the Internet at http://www.greenwoodpga.net.

“Honestly, the Internet and my website and the wonderful articles by the sports editor of the paper validated what I did,” said Greenwood. “Even I had forgotten.”

Some of Greenwood’s more memorable golfing escapades are already noted in five different books: My 55 Ways to Lower Your Golf Score by Jack Nicklaus; My Story by Jack Nicklaus; Southern Golf Association: The First Hundred Years by Gene Pearce; The History of Tennessee Golf by Gene Pearce; and, most recently, The History of Sunnehanna Country Club and the Sunnehanna Amateur by John Yerger III. But once he and Elma began researching his past successes for the website, even Greenwood was impressed.

“When my wife put this stuff together and we put the stuff together for the paper, I should of had more confidence (as a player),” Greenwood admitted. “I was a better player than I realized. I think it’s important for a golfer or an athlete to make a note of his accomplishments and awards and read those while they are playing. We forget.”

Greenwood’s career is hardly forgettable. Once he began teeing it up at the Cookeville Country Club at age 12, his work ethic and desire to be the best helped propel him to star status as an amateur and in college.

During the 1960s, he dominated amateur play in the state of Tennessee, winning the 1966 State Amateur and the 1968 State Open, becoming just the third of eight golfers to win both tournaments. He was ranked by Golf Magazine among the nation’s Top 10 amateurs on two occasions. He is just one of seven golfers to ever win the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur twice, setting the course record with a 63. Most recently, Greenwood was honored in June by the tournament officials at Sunnehanna in Johnstown, Pa., for his past success as a two time champion.

“It was a moving experience. It was really gratifying the way they treated me,” said Greenwood. “They gave me a sport coat and some framed pictures and they were glad to see me. That’s always nice.”

The day after Greenwood flew home to Cookeville, his record fell to one of the participants in the Sunnehanna tournament after 43 years.

“They thought the course record was going to last forever because it had for 43 years,” Greenwood said. “I’ve had somewhere around 30 course records. This was the last course record that hadn’t been broken.”

Records were meant to be broken and Greenwood certainly had his share. In college, he began his career at Tennessee Tech where he finished as the runner-up in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament as a freshman. He then transferred to North Texas State where he was a three-time All-American, placing second in three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Championships.

Perhaps his most notable, and gratifying, golfing experience came during his college years when he playing at Colonial Country Club in Memphis. Greenwood took on Jack Nicklaus, who has won more major championships than any other golfer, and beat him in match play.

“All I thought about was winning a tournament,” confessed Greenwood. “If I finished fourth or fifth, it didn’t mean anything. I went to Niagara Falls last year and I told Elma I played in the Porter Cup there. We went to Niagara Falls Country Club and they remembered me. They pulled out the program and said ‘Hey, you finished fourth.’ Fourth meant absolutely nothing to me at the time. It was just another failure. Then you look down the list behind me and those great players, who accomplished a lot more than I did, I beat them at that time. I didn’t know that.”

Greenwood beat some good players while he was on the PGA Tour. After turning pro in 1969, he made the cut in 72 PGA events, finishing in the top 10 six times and in the top 25 in 15 different tournaments. His lone victory on the Tour came in 1970 when he won the Rhode Island Open. But injuries played a key role in Greenwood’s decision to leave the Tour in 1975.

“The last tournament I played on tour was the Mexico Open in Mexico City. I remember having a three or four foot par putt and thinking this will be the last putt I will hit as a Tour player and it was,” recalled Greenwood.

“My wrist was in bad shape and my back was bad. I had neck problems and it was becoming pretty tough to play so I quietly retired.”

Greenwood began living the life of a club pro after retiring from the Tour, taking over the No. 1 club job in America at TPC Sawgrass. He recently returned to TPC Sawgrass and enjoyed some fellowship with current PGA Tour players during a recent PGA tournament.

“It was nice,” said Greenwood. “I had breakfast with the Tour players and they introduced me as a former Tour player. It was very gratifying.”

The attention and accolades Greenwood has been getting lately is very gratifying for the 69-year-old. In 2002, he was inducted into the North Texas Hall of Fame. This past year, Greenwood was one of the charter members inducted into Riverside Military Academy’s Sports Hall of Fame. At Riverside, in addition to golf, he excelled in baseball and basketball.

But for his golfing achievements, Greenwood was enshrined in the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame last fall, becoming the 30th member of the distinguished group.

“It’s an honor,” said Greenwood. “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

While Greenwood has found a new appreciation for his career, he also appreciates the people around him such as his wife and his 9-year-old daughter Viola. He also appreciates a man who was his longtime friend and golfing partner Bobby Nichols. After giving Greenwood’s introduction speech at the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame ceremonies, Nichols died a few months later from complications in his fight against cancer.

His loss has been felt more by Greenwood than any loss on the golf course.

“I miss him,” said Greenwood. “He and I were like brothers. There will never be another Bobby Nichols.”

Greenwood doesn’t get out and play much golf anymore. He spends time with his family and is still in the golfing business, giving lessons and working as a golf architect when called upon. If he wants to remember something from his great golfing past, all he has to do is log on to the Internet and look at his website and take a walk down memory lane.

Published in: on July 27, 2008 at 6:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Bro. Harold Witmer

The most unforgettable character that I have ever met

By Bobby Greenwood, Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 10.24 PM


 Year’s ago, “Reader’s Digest” had a popular segment called “The most unforgettable character that I have ever met.”  Well folks, Brother Harold is indeed that man in my life.  As I write this part of my experiences with Bro. Harold, I am already looking forward to reading this book about his life.


Leaving the PGA Tour after 7 years, returning back home to Cookeville, Tennessee, I would teach at the Tennessee Golf Academy just to be able to be with my two children for a week.  They were ages 8 and 6 years old at that time.


PGA professional Jack Wall was a dear friend of Bro. Harold.  And, Jack met me at the Tennessee Golf Academy which was held at Fall Creek Falls State Park.  Jack was an excellent golf instructor as well as an intense student of the game.  He saw my knowledge of the golf swing and offered me 25% of his golf company if I would teach at Benchcraft Golf Co. one day a week.  So, I would drive to Nashville and spend the night at the Benchcraft Golf Co. which was located on Church Street and be ready to teach the next morning.  Some days I would give 10-12 lessons.


One of Jack Wall’s many talents was his ability to network people.  He would bring people to gather and they would sometime accomplish great things.


Jack introduced me to Bro. Harold and the rest is history.  We would leave the hustle and bustle of Benchcraft Golf Co. and go out back in the alley by the dumpster and talk.  One of my few talents is my ability to identify greatness in people.  I was immediately intrigued by the honest sincerity of the man.  Of course, I could tell that he truly loved the Lord but I had no idea of the magnitude of this love.  He was completely sold out to Jesus.  His whole life is doing the work of the Father for the Kingdom.  I was to learn that Bro. Harold is the most generous, giving and forgiving man that I have ever known.  In short, Harold Witmer is the finest Christian man that I have ever known!


Jack and I would take Bro. Harold to our golf clinics and various outings to the Bahamas and State Parks. He became our official Golf Chaplain for Benchcraft Golf Co.  In the Bahamas, there on the beach, Easter Sunrise service, many people heard the saving power of Jesus Christ. It was great!


Through the years and our travels together, I have learned so much about how to learn to love God and obey His commandments.  I am a better Christian man because of being with Bro. Harold.  Thank you Jack Wall and God, not necessarily in that order, for putting Bro. Harold in my life!


I will share one story with you about his boldness in the Lord. 


One year, I qualified to play in the Senior PGA Championship held at Laurel Valley Country Club at Ligonier, Pennsylvania.  I played a practice round with the great Arnold Palmer and after the round we went in the luxurious clubhouse to have lunch.  We were eating with the world leaders in the golf industry and Bro. Harold just resting in the Lord and so relaxed.  After lunch we made our way through the large crowd of spectators on our way to the practice range.  I brought Bro. Harold through ropes and he began talking with several pros as I continued to hit range balls. The next thing I knew, a hush fell over the crowd as Bro. Harold had a circle of pros engaged in prayer.  Later I learned that Chi Chi Rodriguez had requested that Bro. Harold lift a curse off him that was put then by another golf pro.


Chi Chi and Doug Sanders became life long friend with my dear friend Bro. Harold.


I could tell you of how Bro. Harold became publisher of Tennessee’s first golf publication or the many trips that he took with Jack Wall and myself on our various golf clinics and vacations but, that would take another book. 


Just for the record, may I say right now… To be a Christian partner and friend to Bro. Harold is a great honor for me.  Without his help through the years, I would never have been inducted into Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame. God bless you my brother.


Please just let me thank Brother Harold Witmer for being God’s servant and my dear friend.

Published in: on July 7, 2008 at 6:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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