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‘Free’ Shoes for Billy Jack

Written by Eldridge Miles on 01 November 2010.

This is the story they always want me to tell at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. It is a classic story. In 1978, I had ordered a pair of size 10½, purple and white golf shoes that came in from England. Purple and white are TCU's colors, so I wanted them.

Well, they double shipped me. They weren't but $50 back then. Instead of returning the extra pair, I went back to see what size Billy Jack Meredith wore. The son of a gun wore 10½ like me. So I put the extra pair of shoes in his locker with a note that read, "Billy Jack, I thought you would love a pair of purple-and-white golf shoes. I have a pair, and we Frogs have to stick together. P.S., These are complimentary."

He came in and said that was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him, giving him a free pair purple-and-white golf shoes. I told him he was welcome. He played every Saturday morning. He came in the next week, and he had a new purple shirt and white slacks in his locker with a note. It read, "Billy Jack, I thought you'd love these pants and this shirt to go with your new shoes. P.S., I signed the ticket for you. Thanks, Big E."

He came in and said, "Big E, you really take care of me. Thank you so much." I told him he was welcome, and that I appreciated him, too.

The next Saturday, he came in and in his locker he has a new, purple-and-white, alpaca wool sweater with a white cap and white glove. There was a note that read, "Billy Jack, thought you'd like these to complete your outfit. P.S., I signed the ticket for you. Thanks, Big E."

He walks in the golf shop and he looked brilliant, just beautiful. All the members were whistling at him. He was Mr. GQ. Well, he wasn't looking left or right. He was looking straight at me. He walks straight up to me and says, "Pro, is there any way I can pay for these free, freaking shoes?"

As a result of those purple-and-white shoes, other members came to me and asked if they could get shoes made in their school colors for them. I got them in colors for Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and many other university school colors.

It so happens that I had joined the Johnston and Murphy Shoe Company on the advisory board, and I asked them if they could make golf shoes in school colors. They said they could do it, so therefore I sold every color of shoes in the rainbow to my members.

Those were a huge hit—and a ton of shoes. It was a merchandising boom, as they ordered slacks, shirts and sweaters to complete their outfits. It didn't stop with the colored shoes.