AUTHOR : ELDRIDGE MILES
Affectionately, known as "Big E," Eldridge Miles has spent more than 50 years as a PGA professional in Dallas. He's been the head professional at Dallas County Club, Bent Tree Country Club and Gleneagles Country Club. In 1978, he was the first recipient of the PGA of America/Sports Illustrated Merchandiser of the Year.
A personal friend and playing partner of Ben Hogan for 20 years, Big E has given golf lessons to the likes of Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Dan Reeves and Yogi Berra.
One day Arnold Palmer was flying to California and needed to refuel his airplane at Addison Airport. That was only five minutes from Bent Tree Country Club, where I was the head golf professional.
Arnold and I have been friends since the 1960s. When he flew over the golf course, he saw the huge galleries we had at Bent Tree that day. So when he touched down, he called me and asked me what tournament was being held.
I told him we were hosting the LPGA Tour's Mary Kay Golf Classic. He asked if he could come over for lunch while his plane was being serviced. He wanted me to pick him up, have lunch and watch some of the tournament together. I told him I would pick him up at the airport.
Before I left, I asked Earnest, who was our very popular maître d', to pull a joke on Arnold. I didn't know what Earnest would do for the joke, but I knew he'd come up with something good.
After picking up Arnold, my wife Kathy and I took him to our fantastic mixed grill at the club. We met a couple of my assistant pros and some members there, too.
When Earnest brought us the menus, he had a can of Havoline Motor Oil in his hand. He asked Arnold if he would autograph it for him. Of course, Arnold represented Pennzoil and he could never sign a competitor's oil can.
Well, Earnest pretended to be very upset. He started raising his voice and said some rude things that everyone in the club could hear. Kathy and I were doing our best not to giggle while we watched Arnold's face turn bright red. He was very embarrassed to say the least.
After a minute or so, I told Earnest to quit harassing my guest. Then finally we told Arnold that it was all set up and a joke. We all had a great laugh and even Arnold thought it was funny.
We finished our lunch, and started to head out to watch the tournament. Before we left, Kathy asked for a "to-go cup" of coffee. She waited for about 15 minutes. We couldn't believe it took that long. Finally a waiter arrived holding a gold, long-stemmed cappuccino cup of coffee.
Evidentially there was a language breakdown between my wife and the waiter. The waiter thought she asked for a "gold cup of coffee," when really she just wanted a to-go cup.
To this day, I don't know where they found that gold coffee cup. They must have found the key to the club's trophy case to find that gold cappuccino cup, washed and poured some coffee in there. But that's the type of service you got at Bent Tree. If you wanted to drink out of a gold cup, they would find one for you. In this case, Kathy didn't ask for it, but she got a gold cup anyway.
We all had another great laugh about that. Arnold especially laughed hard.
At last, we got out on the course to watch some of the golf tournament. Arnold stayed around to take in the action for about two hours. After we finished watching the golf, we took Arnold back to the airport. He pulled me aside and said, "I had a great time watching the tournament and especially enjoyed the fun we had in the mixed grill!"
Not only one the best and most-loved golfers of all-time, Arnold Palmer has a great sense of humor, too.