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 Super Bowl will be played this month in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, I won't be there to see it in person. Like every lifelong Texan, I'm a huge football fan. In fact, I was invited to see the very first Super Bowl back in 1967.
My great friend, the late E. Grant Fitts, who was my regular golf partner against Ben Hogan and Gary Laughlin for 20 years, invited me to see the Kansas City Chiefs play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Mr. Fitts was the president of the Great America Corporation, which owned a conglomerate of companies such as Jones & Laughlin Steel, Wilson Packing Co., Wilson Sporting Goods, National Car Rental, numerous banks, insurance companies and radio stations. Mr. Fitts' company also owned Braniff Airways.
In other words, Mr. Fitts was a pretty big wheel.
To get out to Super Bowl I, Mr. Fitts booked us on a Braniff flight. During that flight, the plane began circling Los Angeles as we were just about to land. Mr. Fitts asked the flight attendant why we were being delayed from landing. She said she would go ask the pilot.
She returned and told Mr. Fitts that the pilot would keep us advised on the intercom. Well, that was not a satisfactory answer for the man who owned the airline!
Mr. Fitts wrote a note to the captain and asked the flight attendant to take it to him. The note explained who he was and demanded that the captain to come back to see him. Less than a minute later, the captain came back to our seats. He apologized to Mr. Fitts and told us that LAX was fogged in. We were unable to land until further notice. The captain said we had the option of flying up to Ontario, Calif., which is halfway between L.A. and Palm Springs, where we could land safely.
At this point, the game was about to start. Mr. Fitts knew our time was short and we were going to miss the Super Bowl kickoff. At best, we were probably only going to get to see the second half of the game. Mr. Fitts, who was a member of El Dorado Country Club in Palm Springs, turned and asked me if I'd rather see the last half of the game in person or land in Ontario and drive to Palm Springs and watch it at his club.
I said I'd rather catch the last half at El Dorado Country Club, where Mr. Fitts owned a home. We landed in Ontario, drove to Palm Springs and caught the second half of the Super Bowl at the country club. Green Bay won the game, 35-10. It was fun to watch, but I had more fun after the game. Mr. Fitts and I played 18 holes of golf and stayed out in Palm Springs for a few more days.
So I never got to see the first Super Bowl. And now, 45 years later (even though last year's game was in nearby Arlington), I've still not been to a Super Bowl. Maybe someday I will get there.