Memories: Coach Bobby Greenwood – “The Volunteer Coach”

Coach Bobby Greenwood – “The Volunteer Coach”

When Bobby Greenwood left the PGA Tour in 1975 and came back to Cookeville to be with his children, he got into coaching through the basketball Optimist Club program; the baseball Little League and Babe Ruth programs.

“The biggest reward in coaching is to see my former players grow up to be successful, outstanding citizens… sometimes very surprising! 😊,” said Bobby. “I got a lot of help from my assistant coaches such as Coach Charles and Wes Keith, Stacy Farris, and Lon Marcum. I was also the assistant coach to Marty Cook in baseball and to Becki Holman, who was the head coach of the National Championship Girls Basketball team in 1986.

You would think my first love in sports was golf but not at all, my dream was to become a professional basketball player. That was before I realized at 5’9” tall, I was a dwarf.

The night that happened was when at a Cookeville High School game, I drove in and shot a fade away hook shot that was blocked into the 4th row of the bleachers! On the bus ride back to Cookeville I wondered if I might try golf. But, Cookeville High School did not have a golf team at that time… 1956.

In grammar school, I had played on the Old City school basketball team with the great Glynn Carmack. And in high school, I was point guard on the CHS team with the great Jim Ragland. The next year, I was the leading scorer on Riverside Military Academy basketball team.

I played freshman basketball at Tennessee Tech University where it was an honor when Coach Johnny Oldham asked me to guard the great Kenny Sidwell in practice every day.

Years later, I played Cookeville’s Independent Church League Basketball and was the leading scorer in the City until I broke my wrist in the Jere Whitson gym in 1967.

So, after all is said and done, I think that I should have pursued Pro Baseball… 😊”


1 Tennessee State Runner-up
2 League Championship
1 Tennessee State Runner-up
1 Tennessee State Championship
1 National Championship

3 League Championships:
1 minor league
1 little league
1 Babe Ruth league

*5 years – Baseball Coach
*6 years – Basketball Coach


*Personal recollections of Bobby Greenwood, January 28, 2023.

*Memories: “The Basketball Coach” posted February 10, 2020 at:

*Memories: “Coach Bobby Greenwood” posted October 5, 2019 at:

*Memories: Bobby Greenwood, 1981-’82 Volunteer Basketball Coach” posted December 1, 2016 at:

*Photo credits:

Former PGA Tour Player
Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame
PGA of America Life Member

Official Website:
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The Season of Giving

From Bobby Greenwood, PGA:

“I am so proud of my wife, Elma, and the relief work that she has done with DonorSee and WAND (Water, Agro-forestry, Nutrition and Development) Foundation.

If you wish, this is a grand opportunity for you to give where all your monies will go directly to the needy projects as she has done for the last 9 years.

Please check her projects at:

Thank you. Merry Christmas! – BG.”


Change lives this giving season.

Make your end-of-year gift today and you’ll receive video updates showing the difference it made and the joy you created.

Your gift is 100% tax-deductible.

Please check our projects at:

Merry Christmas!

Yours truly,

Elma Gacho Greenwood, International Program Manager
WAND (Water, Agro-forestry, Nutrition and Development) Foundation
Balangiga Without Borders (BWB) – Disaster Relief Volunteers Worldwide
Follow Elma at:

Former PGA Tour Player
Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame
PGA of America Life Member

Official Website:
Official Blog:
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Published in: on December 21, 2022 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bobby Greenwood, American Legion Award Recipient for Assisting fellow Veterans

In the last seven years, Bobby Greenwood has helped several different Veterans in their time of need and is still currently helping on a daily basis.

Bobby received this award from American Legion Post 46 at the Veterans Building during their monthly meeting on November 7, 2022.

THANK YOU Bobby and TO ALL THE VETERANS for your selfless service!

Photo caption:
Ray Gould, Legion Post 46 Vice Commander and Bobby Greenwood, PGA


*Bobby Greenwood, Former PGA Tour Player, served in the United States Army and Air Force from 1964 to 1969. He is a proud member of the American Legion.

Former PGA Tour Player
Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame
PGA of America Life Member

Official Website:
Official Blog:
Facebook Page:

Published in: on December 11, 2022 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Article: “One of Tennessee’s Finest” – Remembering Bobby Nichols, PGA

ARTICLE: “One of Tennessee’s Finest”
Remembering Bobby Nichols, PGA
By: Bobby Greenwood, PGA
Published by: Tee Times Paper
Spring 2022 issue, pages 16 and 17.

Tennessee golf has produced many great players throughout our state’s history. Players like Memphis’ Cary Middlecoff, Clarksville’s Mason Rudolph, Nashville’s Lou Graham, Chattanooga’s Gibby Gilbert, and Knoxville’s Joe Campbell… just to name a few back in my era.

There are different levels of greatness that most people are not aware of.  For instance, I am not on the same level as these five players.  Why? …because some were former Ryder Cup players or have won major titles and some are World Golf Hall of Fame members. 

The Tennessee Golf Foundation will induct two great players into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame on February 8th of this year 2022. They are the 2003 PGA Champion Shaun Micheel and former PGA Tour winner David Gossett who had a stellar amateur career that included NCAA First Team All-American in college, and he also won the 1999 U.S. Amateur. Both men are indeed worthy of the honor of being Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame members. 

However, there are many other truly great golfers from Tennessee; both pro and in the amateur ranks, just perhaps like me, not on that elite level of excellence.

Cookeville’s Bobby Nichols was indeed one of the notable players, and more importantly, a wonderful man that everyone seemed to love. Let me share a page I wrote back in 2008 for a book to be written about my dear friend, Bobby Nichols.


By Bobby Greenwood in Bermuda, October 2008

When I was asked, six months ago, by Buddy Pearson to write something for his book about my dear friend Bobby Nichols, I thought it would be easy. But I just could not seem to do it… my heart was heavy every time that my thoughts went to my best buddy and the realization that he was gone.

So… as I write this, I am in Bermuda at the Grand Slam of Golf, and the Mid Ocean Golf Club is a beautiful place. This morning, as I watched Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman hit practice shots, it reminded me of a time Bobby Nichols and I drove to Nashville to watch Arnold Palmer and Gary Player play an exhibition at the Richland Golf and Country Club. Bobby and I always were students of the game and we have shared many hours of practice and study in an effort to try to become better golfers ourselves. We have travelled many miles together in our quest to improve. Perhaps this is why I have finally chosen this time to attempt to write something for Buddy Pearson’s book.

Bobby Nichols would be surprised, delighted and maybe even a little embarrassed by this book; for he was someone who was by nature shy and yet he loved encouraging people. He tried hard to live his life so he wouldn’t ever let anyone down.

As a young boy, Bobby caddied for me at the Cookeville Country Club and we became the best of friends. Later, our mutual love for basketball brought us even closer together. We played church league basketball together… we played hard and fast. After I broke my wrist in one game; I warned Bobby that due to poor refereeing the games had become too rough and for him to be careful. He promised that he would. But try as he may, his competitive spirit drove him to be a leader on the church league basketball team. And within 2-3 weeks, Bobby injured his knee that required surgery in Nashville. I stayed with him at night in the hospital.

Many years later, after Bobby became ill, the last two weeks of his life was precious… and also terrible. Again, he asked me to stay with him every night in his home and also in the hospital. During those pain-filled midnight hours, I learned a lot. We rededicated our life to the Lord, confessed our sins one to another and prayed many sincere prayers together.

In an effort to explain what Bobby Nichols meant to me… just let me say, I now have no one in Cookeville who can talk about the deeper truths of playing competitive golf tournaments… even the PGA Tour. Bob won many tournaments in his playing career including the Tennessee Open, the Met Open, Tennessee Player of the Year, etc. One night as we sat together in his living room, Bobby said, “I would give up all my tournament wins if only the pain will go away.” That really put things in perspective for me… once again.

So, there are many reasons why Bobby Nichols was honored by the Tennessee PGA Section with the Tennessee Cup Matches MVP named the “Bobby Nichols Most Valuable Player Award”. He has also been selected by the TN PGA Section to Captain the Pro team of the TN Cup matches on four different occasions! Bobby was a giving and caring Christian man. He never ceased to amaze people with his kindness and generosity. With his devout Christian faith, Bobby exhibited a sense of humility that is rarely seen in the world of sports. 

Not many people know that Bobby Nichols was a giver. He shared with me many secrets of his benevolent nature. And we would discuss how some people would try to cheat or con Bobby. With his Godly wisdom, he would say, “The Bible says, ‘Suffer yourself to be defrauded’… Just don’t let yourself be guilty of cheating anyone.”

When his mom was in the Cookeville nursing home for several years, Bobby would prepare vegetable juice with his blender at his home and take it to his mom every day! I tried to help Bobby as best I could in his time of need, but, needless to say, I was not nearly as good a nurse as he was. 

I know Elaine, Kim and I and others wish we could have done more; but I can only say that we did the best that we knew to do. I was so proud to see how his friends loved Bobby Nichols.

I was proud of the TN PGA for showing up in force for Bobby’s funeral in Cookeville. All of the officers of the PGA were there as many of Bobby’s fellow PGA professionals. Bobby touched countless people in the community, the golf industry and the community was brought together by the shared love and sorrow.

The Bible says, “Rejoice at death and cry at birth.” I know and understand that is true but, I have never met anyone that got the hang of it. Nevertheless, I truly believe that Bobby Nichols is with God and I have to be happy for him… I miss him. He died like a champion and I was able to tell him that on his deathbed. The Bible says: “Godly wisdom brings sorrow.” I miss Bobby very much… I am sad here in Bermuda.

ABOUT BOBBY NICHOLS (May 4, 1941 – March 16, 2008):

Born in Algood, Tennessee, Bobby Nichols grew up as a caddie at the Cookeville Country Club and would go on to be a four-year letterwinner on the Tennessee Tech University men’s golf team (1959-’63), including being the team captain his senior season. After winning the 1991 Tennessee Open, Bobby Nichols made a profound impact on the golfing community during his lifetime.

While junior golf was always a priority for Nichols, so was coaching the golf teams at his alma mater. A 32-year veteran with Tech athletics, Nichols was inducted into Tech’s Hall of Fame in 1990. After a battle with cancer, Nichols died at the age of 66 on March 16, 2008. In 2011, he was officially inducted into the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame.


*Personal recollections of Bobby Greenwood, PGA.

*TTU Blog <…/nichols-legacy-lives-on-10…/>


*Remembering a good friend, Bobby Nichols. 

“Thanks be to God for putting a great man, like Bobby Nichols, in my life. Looking forward to playing another round of golf with you in heaven.” – Bobby Greenwood, PGA, November 23, 2017.



Former PGA Tour Player
Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame
PGA of America Life Member

Official Website:
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Published in: on December 10, 2022 at 11:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Article: “DID GOLF SAVE MY LIFE?” – Memories of the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training

Memories of U.S. Army Basic Combat Training

Published by: Tee Times Paper, September 2021, pages 16 and 19.

Memories from BASIC COMBAT TRAINING (1964-1965)


Enlisted: 24 July 1964

United States Army

Co. D, 16 Spec. Bn 4tng Bde

PASC 4-65

Fort Jackson, South Carolina

During my life, golf has done many things for me… opened a lot of doors, met famous people and once saved my life! I owe a lot to the game of golf and to the PGA of America.

After graduating from University of North Texas in 1964, I was hoping to try to qualify for the PGA Tour. However, with the country’s involvement in Vietnam just beginning, instead I was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for basic training.

Lately, the Afghanistan crisis made me reflect back about my military experience. During the Vietnam War, the Post was so crowded that our barracks were full. The United States Army trained us hard. We were not allowed to walk in the company area, we were forced to run everywhere.

So, I thought… this will help me to get in shape for the Tour. But sadly, my physical training on the horizontal ladder rung range went from over 50 the first day, to 3 before falling off as a result of exhaustion. Two weeks of exhaustive training with three hours sleep each night will do it to you! However, I found I was good at the low crawl training…

During basic training, I used to think the Army took too much time repeating and over teaching… Hey… I got it already! Let’s move on!… Well, I was wrong. Gas Mask Training… we must have stayed on it for a week! By the way, what a great invention… the gas mask.
When and if there is a gas attack, you take your gas mask off your belt, pull it over your head, and with one breath clear the airway and breath naturally. Don’t panic… it takes 5 seconds.

A week later, here we were out in the woods, coincidentally next to a latrine. The sergeants set off 4 or 5 gas bombs in a surprise attack and the recruits went wild! Running away in a panic. I couldn’t believe my eyes! They were coughing, crying and puking.

I knew it would take a while to round up the troops so I went into the gas-filled latrine to take care of my usual morning business. I could hear the sergeants yelling and screaming outside. And then they started looking for Pvt Greenwood. They found me in my stall. I took care of my paperwork and went outside to join the ranks and fall in.

I was surprised that they were mad at me again…

At the evening meal, the last three troops that finish their meal must stay and mop the mess hall floor. I always made it a point to be among the last when the weather was raining and cold outside.
My fellow recruits going through basic training were sometimes having problems. One day, our platoon was practicing throwing live grenades. I noticed that the guy next to me was very nervous. He threw the grenade as hard as he could and I looked up to see it spinning in mid-air right in front of my face. It fell on the shelf in front of us and I brushed it into the ditch to save me and several others from injury. I was a hero after that… it lasted about 20 minutes. Always keep your eyes open and think!

In 1964, we were housed in wooden barracks that had housed the fort’s troops since the early nineteen-forties. I was now the company fireman; so, my new job was to make sure to keep the fire burning in the old boilers of 6-7 barracks. First time we had hot showers in weeks! The guys like me! I was their hero again.

I remember once, I received a large box of cookies from my mom. I opened the box in the barracks on my bunk. Those homemade cookies were gone in 10 seconds! I got one… delicious…

I was also a truck driver. Twenty guys showed up to be tested for the job. We drove a jeep, 4 speed, synchromesh transmission… just like my ’62 Corvette! They had us drive on a large square test road. At each turn, I ran through all 4 gears full speed and geared down at each turn. At the end of the test, the sergeant who was sitting next to me in the jeep, looked at me for several seconds and then said, “You passed, smart ass!”

I was the last one in my company to zero-in my weapon at the rifle range. Making an error in M-14 rifle qualification, my helmet liner was rapped by the Drill Instructor’s swagger stick until my ears rang. Much to everyone’s surprise, I later became the company’s HIGH FIRER in the company, only 4 hits away from a new Post record! As a result of winning the rifle range competition, the “Company Dud” was awarded a trophy and a 2-day pass in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. I must say, much to the chagrin of my 1st Sergeant.

In Fort Jackson, approximately 100,000 people were eligible for service in Vietnam. For training purposes, construction of a Vietnamese-type village named BAU BANG was a notable example of Fort Jackson’s initiative and thoroughness in training. The standard unit of training was the platoon. Training focused on hands-on skill development… hand-to-hand combat. The spirit of the bayonet… “To kill without mercy!” About this time, I figured I was well on my way to Vietnam.

Surprisingly one day, I was called out to play golf in a Post Match against Shaw Air Force Base. I guess General Perez (Post Commander) really wanted Fort Jackson to win the match… I shot 71 and we won. Months before I enlisted in 1964, I was Co-Medalist in the U.S. Amateur; evidently the General was keeping up with the national amateur tournaments. After that, the General wanted to play golf with me and about that time I noticed that the drill sergeants were acting more friendly towards me.

Commanding General, Major General Gines Perez, became my golfing buddy at Fort Jackson… One day, in a friendly game, I had a putt on the 18th hole to win the match against Major General Perez and his partner. As I was over the three-foot putt to win, he said: “Pvt. Greenwood, if you make this putt, I will send you to Vietnam.” Needless to say, I carefully left it one foot short!

Even as an amateur, there are benefits that come to you in the business world or even in the military… And as a golf pro, there have been many more blessings through the years.

On a serious note, I learned to love the military way of life. And, I served with some great men whom I admired. “All gave some, Some gave all.”

Published by: Tee Times Paper, September 2021, pages 16 and 19.

Bobby Greenwood’s Military Experience/Credentials:

*Riverside Military Academy (post graduate), 1957.RMA Horton Society Award at graduation, 1957.Charter Member, RMA Sports Hall of Fame, Gainesville, Georgia, 2007.

*ROTC, Rebel Rifle Drill Team, Tennessee Tech University, 1958.[Excerpt: “THE BEST-DRILLED CADET”“Cadet Pvt. Robert S. Greenwood of Cookeville received Tennessee Polytechnic Institute award as the best-drilled cadet private in the ROTC regiment. President Everett Derryberry and General Westmoreland made the presentation.” – Source: Local newspaper published in Cookeville, Tennessee, c. 1958.]

*Bobby Greenwood, Former PGA Tour Player, served in the United States Army and Air Force from 1964 to 1969. He is a proud member of the American Legion.

*Most of Greenwood’s recollections were derived from his amazing, vivid memories and from private letters he sent to his family and friends.


Former PGA Tour Player

Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame

PGA of America Life Member

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Published in: on December 9, 2022 at 12:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Excerpt from Rev. Harold Witmer’s Book



With all the heartache and work, there was also fun time.  Harold became good friends with Bobby Greenwood, a wonderful golf pro who resided in Tennessee. Bobby truly had a conversion experience and turned his life over to the Lord.

The excitement of sharing the Gospel appealed greatly to Bobby and he often asked his good friend Harold to travel with him. Harold called it golf evangelism.  Many times different pros would ask Harold to preach at their home church when the tournaments were close to them and of course the traveling golf evangelist accepted their invitation.  The result were incredible and the demand for him to speak in other churches spread throughout the golf tours.

And now, as told in his own words, PGA Golf Professional, Bobby Greenwood.

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. which was located on Church Street in Nashville, TN, 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.

When Bobby was installed into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame, his wonderful brother in Christ was there to share in the excitement.  To quote Bobby from an autographed picture we have these words: “You are a great friend and without your help I would never have made the Hall of Fame. God bless you and sister Faye.
Sincerely, Bobby Greenwood”.

Source: “Two Are Better Than One”, A True Story About a Real Person Who Serves a Living God – Rev. Harold Witmer. Written & Edited by: William H. Corley, First Edition 2008.

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bobby Greenwood and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)

FCA anecdotes [copied from Facebook notes]

Bobby Greenwood has been involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) for a very long time… when he was Director of Golf at Sawgrass Country Club where Capt. Bill Lewis started the FCA Golf in 1977 out of his condo at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Bobby worked with Capt. Bill Lewis in 1977 and 1978 with regard to the FCA Golf Ministry.

Another thing, Bobby and Dean Beman, then the Commisioner of the PGA Tour, where keynote speakers at the 1977 FCA Breakfast with Pros at Sawgrass Country Club.

Presently, Bobby serves on the Board of Directors of the Upper Cumberland FCA in Cookeville, TN, 2006-present.

And he has been:

Head Golf Clinician, FCA Camp, St. Augustine, Florida, 2006.

Head Golf Clinician, FCA Camp, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, 2005.

Head Golf Clinician, FCA Camp, Powell, Wyoming, 2005-2006.

Assistant Golf Director, FCA Camp, Crow Valley Golf Club, Davenport, Iowa. Facebook

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

In Memory of Bill Garrett (1940-2010)

“In golf, when you have the “honor” on the tee; then you have earned the right to go first. It seems only fitting that concerning the University of North Texas golf team that Bill Garrett should go first. We, the rest of his teammates look forward to being with Bill once again and perhaps ev…en playing golf with him and enjoying all the promises of God. When I get my new body, as promised by my Lord and Savior, I hope that it is 6’6”tall just like Bill Garrett’s instead of one that is 5’9” tall. The Lord told us to rejoice at death and cry at birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4), but I haven’t got the hang of that yet. Heaven must be wonderful for that to be true. May God continue to bless you, roomie. BG”.

[Bill Garrett played on the PGA Tour between 1964-1979]

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Backsliders Class History – First United Methodist Church Sunday School (60th Anniversary)

I started attending the Backsliders Class with my father, Bob Greenwood. I was a young boy at the time, and it must have been about 1949 or 1950. I remember that I was the only young person to be in the Backsliders Class but my dad took me with him so I thought it must be OK.

The first thing that impressed me was the President of the class. He was always such a smart, polished gentleman. And, you could tell that he truly loved the Lord. No doubt, in my mind, he must be the sharpest man in town! I also remember thinking that I could never be good enough to serve as President of the Backsliders Class.

The second thing that made an impression on me as a young boy was Jeff Wall. A master of music with deep voice that surely sounded like the voice of God… Or so I thought. In addition, his wife Vera Wall was a wonderful pianist. Together, their music was instrumental in leading me to accepting Jesus as my Savior and Lord of my life.

Jeff and Vera’s son, Don, who lived and worked in Florida, would visit the Backsliders Class when he was in town visiting and would dazzle everyone with his great talent of singing and playing the piano. In addition, their other son, Estel, was my father’s boyhood friend.

I will always love the Jeff Wall family and, more importantly for what their music ministry did for me.

Well, in 2006 to 2007, the Backsliders Class elected me to serve as President. Some of the past presidents were out in the audience and the entire class encouraged me and loved me through it all. Although I never felt good enough… It was a growing experience for me, and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve.

By: Bobby Greenwood
2006-2007 Backsliders Class President

Former PGA Tour Player
Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame
PGA of America Life Member

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Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 8:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bobby Greenwood’s Christian Faith

Backsliders celebrate 60th


COOKEVILLE — In 1949 or 1950, when Bobby Greenwood was a young boy, his father, Bob Greenwood, started taking him to Backsliders Class at First United Methodist Church in Cookeville. Impressionable Bobby was especially taken by the President of the class — smart, polished and a deeply committed Christian. Although Bobby thought he could never be good enough to hold that position, in 2006-2007 the class elected him president.

Organized on Oct. 1, 1949, the Backsliders met for the first year at Vaughn’s Grill on the Square near the church building. “Young Men’s Fellowship” was the original name for a variety of reasons, chiefly because ladies were not invited for several years. Men continue to outnumber ladies in the class, but not in significant numbers.

In its early days, the group did not sing because they claimed they could not. Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Wall, he a noted local Gospel singer and she a gifted accompanist, began leading them and all heaven broke loose. Greenwood testifies that their music was instrumental in his accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord of his life. Although the Walls went to their reward years ago, echoes of old Gospel hymns reverberate through the building in which Jeff Wall Hall is located. Members who wish to contribute funds may, and those moneys have gone to support numerous struggling churches and para-church organizations. In addition to supporting church ministries such as the Ministers’ Emergency Fund and the Food Pantry, they reach out to the community with financial aid to Mustard Seed Ranch, Cookeville Rescue Mission, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Heart of the Cumberlands and many others.

When former class president Jim Ross became a Backslider in 1969, he was struck by the diversity of class members ranging from top-level executives, local business owners and millionaires to regular working people who had not been accustomed to participating in religious activity. Retired Army Col. Hubert Crawford served as the city’s police chief and would on occasion bring inmates to class on Sunday mornings. As its name suggests, pomposity is far from being a trademark of the Backsliders. When the Pharisees attacked Jesus for hanging out with tax collectors and sinners, he answers them, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matthew 9:12) Their goal has been to search out and help those who were not connected with any church and proclaim the Gospel to them.

When Fred Moore, a history professor at Tennessee Tech, was one of the regular class teachers, he provided them with this unofficial motto: “They ain’t no hypocrites here cause we don’t claim to be nothin’.” The official motto became and is this: “Any person regardless of state can become the person he should be through the power of Jesus Christ.” For several years, teaching duties were assigned to specific teachers for the various Sundays of the month. In more recent years, a committee of six people, each of whom arranges two months of programs, has been in effect. This has resulted in an interesting array of speakers and subjects.

On Sunday, Oct. 11 in the Christian Life Center of First Methodist Church, beginning at 12:30 p.m., there will be a 60th birthday celebration for the Backsliders Class. The program will include music by the Webb Sisters. All former Backsliders are urged to attend this joyful celebration. To determine how many porkers need to make the supreme sacrifice, notice of your plans to attend would be appreciated by the planners. 

I may have to be a few minutes late but I plan to be there. I hope to see many former and present Backsliders.

Source: Herald-Citizen, published Sunday, October 4, 2009, Cookeville, Tennessee.

Published in: on October 4, 2009 at 6:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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