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.
The final launch of the space shuttle in July brought back great memories for me, especially because in 1979 I played a round of golf with Alan Shepard. As you know, he is one of the nation's original Mercury Seven astronauts. He was the first American to fly into space and later walked on the moon as commander of the Apollo 14 mission.
He also was the only person to ever hit a golf ball on the moon.
You might wonder why Mr. Shepard was playing in a golf tournament at Denton Country Club, which was not a well-known club at the time. The fact is the pro-am was started in 1966 as a fundraiser for North Texas State University's (now the University of North Texas) golf scholarship fund. The event was enthusiastically accepted by club members, businesses and residents alike.
Everyone involved contributed and their efforts make the pro-am a huge success, which was the main reason celebrities and golf pros wanted an invitation to play every year.
Among the golf pros who played were Don January, Shelly Mayfield, Billy Martindale, Rives McBee and Earl Stewart. I played with Alan Shepard for the 1979 event and the field of celebrities included actor Dale Robertson; Dennis James, who was the host of The Price is Right; David Huddleston, star of stage, screen and TV and Jim Davis, who played Jock Ewing—father of the infamous J.R. Ewing—on the hit show, Dallas.
Most of you will remember "Dallas," as it was the anchor of CBS' Friday night lineup for years. In the 1979 season finale, someone shot J.R. Ewing (played by Larry Hagman) and the whole country wanted to know who did it. Everyone had to wait until the series started again in the fall to find out.
When Davis was introduced on the first tee at the Denton CC pro-am, he received a huge welcome from thousands of fans who all wanted to know: "Who shot J.R.?"
Davis grabbed the microphone and sarcastically said, "No, I don't know who shot the S.O.B.!"
The crowd went wild with laughter and applause. Then Davis hit his tee ball right down the middle of the fairway.
As for Alan Shepard, his first three drives were not as straight. On the second and third holes, his tee shots landed in the water. Being a great guy and a good sport, he said to the gallery, "If there had been water on the moon, I'm sure I would have found it with that famous shot I hit up there."
The gallery had another great laugh, and we all enjoyed our round of golf. As far as I know, no one else as ever hit a golf ball on the moon. I'm pretty sure the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis didn't take their clubs up there, so Mr. Shepard should hold that distinction forever.