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 recent move of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame to Brackenridge Park in San Antonio brought back some vivid memories. I played in the Texas State Junior Amateur Championship at the historic course in 1950. The pro for our team that year was Lefty Stackhouse, a fine player who had a hot temper.
Back then, "Old Brack" had very sparse grass and hard-packed fairways. I played with Lefty on several occasions. One time, I noticed that every time he hit his 3-wood there was a loud rattle. I proceeded to tell him that his 3-wood was broken. He laughed and showed me the bottom of the club. He had used four screws to fashion a piece of metal on the bottom of the club. The screws were loose, which made the rattling sound.
We asked him why he had the metal on the bottom of the club. He said the metal runner on the bottom of it made the ball fly higher and straighter. Looking back, that was the first time I can remember anyone using anything that resembled the modern Baffler club that was extremely popular in the 1970s.
Cobra Golf introduced the Baffler in the '70s. But Lefty Stackhouse had made his own 20 years earlier.
Lefty was certainly ahead of his time.
But, as I mentioned, he ran hot at times, too. Not many had a temper like Lefty.
One year at the PGA Tour stop in New Orleans, Lefty three-putted the 18th in one of the early rounds. Later that night, he had too much to drink. He took a spoon from the restaurant at which he had eaten and took a cab back to the tournament site.
He stumbled back to the 18th hole and dug several holes in the green—he dug the cup right out of the ground!
Then he passed out in a bunker.
The next morning, he was found by a PGA Tour official before the tournament started. Lefty was disqualified from the tournament, and the officials repaired the 18th green.
It wasn't the only time he took extreme measures to display his frustrations. At another event, he hooked his drive badly and walked up to a thorny rosebush. He thrust his right hand into the bush. When he pulled back his hand, it was covered in blood.
Then he slammed his left hand in the thorn bush and screamed, "You are going to suffer also!"
Lefty Stackhouse was one of golf's true characters. He was a great player and won his share of tournaments.
My other memory of Brackenridge Park was from the first round in the 1950 State Junior Am. My opponent that day was the great Johnny Arreaga. As you may or may not know, in the recently released movie, "Seven Days in Utopia," the character of Johnny the golf pro, played by Robert Duvall, was based on Johnny Arreaga.
The struggling young pro in the movie was actually based on David Cook, PhD, who is the author of the book, Golf's Sacred Journey, on which the movie is based.
David and I are good friends, and I have participated in some of his fantastic motivational seminars. He is a very fine golfer and was extremely close to becoming a PGA Tour professional. In the movie, he is played by Lucas Black, who has a pretty good golf swing, too.
I find it fascinating that history from the 1950 Texas Junior Amateur is continued to this day through the movie, Seven Days in Utopia.
Here we are 61 years later, and the legend of Johnny Arreaga lives on in a great movie.