by Buddy Pearson Herald Citizen 06.18.11 – 09:00 pm (online edition)
COOKEVILLE — Bobby Greenwood has been giving golf lessons almost all his life. His knowledge and experience of the game crafted from an outstanding amateur and professional career has helped people play better golf. At the age of 72, Greenwood still gives golf lessons although he concentrates mainly on teaching one very important pupil — his 12-year-old daughter Viola.
“I have a great teacher. Dad is a great teacher and, plus, we have a lot of fun,” said Viola. “It’s good to enjoy something you do.”
Viola couldn’t have a more qualified teacher. Greenwood was a 3-time NCAA All-American at the University of North Texas during an incredible amateur career which saw him best players such as Jack Nicklaus and Byron Nelson in match play events. After turning pro, Greenwood spent seven years on the PGA Tour, winning the 1970 Rhode Island Open and taking on the likes of Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer. He captured more than 150 amateur and pro tournaments and has been elected to the Riverside Military Academy, North Texas Athletic and Tennessee Golf Hall of Fames.
“Actually, I kind of in a way, hoped she wouldn’t play golf because I know how tough the game is,” confessed Greenwood. “It’s a lonely game. It’s the most difficult of all games to play correctly. I was wanting her to get into the team sports.”
Viola has tried her hand at team sports, excelling in local youth soccer and softball leagues. But being around a legendary golfer on a daily basis gave her the notion to want to play.
“Viola is a good athlete,” said Greenwood. “She played soccer and softball. She could play basketball if she wanted. She has responded well and she still has a long way to go.”
Viola has just started getting serious about hitting the links this year. She has been practicing hard and learning the game from one of the best ball-strikers to ever tee it up in the state of Tennessee.
“The secret is we don’t have any preconceived goals,” Greenwood explained. “We are just out there having fun and seeing what happens. If she is good enough to become a pretty good player then it will happen. If she’s not, then we won’t force it. We are just having fun and introducing her to the game.”
Having a golf professional for a dad has done more than just show Viola how to hit a golf ball. Greenwood and his wife Elma have been able to take Viola to different courses and tournaments around the country that have special meaning. Greenwood has taken his family to the Masters and to the Player’s Championship at TPC Sawgrass where he was the head pro. They have gone to Berumuda to the Grand Slam of Golf. All of these experiences has introduced Viola to Greenwood’s past as well as opened the door to meeting some of the top players on the PGA Tour today.
“It’s a great experience and I’m pretty lucky to get to go to great famous golf courses and it is helping me learn,” Viola said. “Watching people helps.”
Watching Greenwood give golf lessons to other people has also helped Viola improve her game. She has become a student of the game, getting a daily dose of golf from her loving dad.
“It is a hard game. He says it takes five years to learn the game so I think I’m on the right track,” Viola said. “I’m learning slowly but surely.”
While Greenwood shares his advice and expertise on golf, he also shares stories of his glorious past with his daughter. That’s something she cherishes as much as how to swing a club.
“I love hearing his stories,” said Viola. “I’m pretty proud of him.”
Greenwood is equally proud of his well-mannered and talented daughter. The two of them recently teamed up in their first-ever tournament, competing in the Kiwanis Cookeville Children’s Museum Adult Youth Golf Scramble at White Plains. The Greenwoods finished second in their flight but came out winners as far as having fun and enjoying the experience goes.
“The first tournament being able to play with my dad was really fun,” said Viola. “It was a really great experience.”
“It was a great tournament and we had a great time,” added Greenwood. “It was something I will never forget.”
Greenwood looks to continue teaching his daughter about golf and sharing his knowledge and experience with her, hoping that’s something she will never forget.
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