“Greenwood Makes Choice” (1977)

 Article from Herald-Citizen, Cookeville, Tennessee, USA, Just To Be Frank, by Frank Layne, 1977.

 Transcription of the Article:


How does an athlete reconcile his religious convictions to insure his being able to meet the demands of the athletic world he is a part of?

He doesn’t! That is if his name is Bobby Greenwood, former PGA touring pro and currently director of golf at Sawgrass, home of the annual Tournament Players Champion (TPC) at Ponte Vedra, Fla., immediately south of Jacksonville.

“You have to make a choice of which is going to be the dominating factor in your life,” he said recently while vacationing here in his hometown. “There is no real reason you can’t be both an athlete and a Christian. You just don’t let yourself get caught up in the ‘pride’ factor that so often makes an athlete forget his priorities in life”.

Greenwood knows the joy of victory, he has won 130 amateur and pro tournaments since graduating from Central High School (forerunner of Putnam Senior High), and the agony of defeat, as witnessed by watching a three-shot lead vanish in the Los Angeles Open in 1971 to come in fourth place.

However, that was several years ago, and now his whole life is devoted to living a Christian life, his two children, and doing his job at Sawgrass – in that order of priority.

“I have no problem with my job interfering by putting God and my family first, in fact I think that maybe the biggest advantage to my new job.

“The Lord has been good to me, and our philosophy here at Sawgrass is to be of service to people. I think that’s what makes it a good program here,” he said.

Even when he was running from one PGA tournament to another during the seven years he spent on the tour, he never left his religious convictions behind, he was part of a group on tour that met regularly for prayer.

“We started that about eight years ago,” he said. “Kermit Zarley, Babe Hiskey, Labron Harris, Joel Goldstrand, myself and a couple more. It’s grown. It’s a way to get together and worship the Lord, have fellowship, talk to each other, and maybe help,” said the modest golfer who grew up in the First Methodist Church of Cookeville, and on the Cookeville Golf and Country Club course.

He headed back to Sawgrass with great expectations for the $350,000.00 TPC tournament to be held March 16-19 of March.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND CONCERNING THE ARTICLE ABOVE: In 1977, the most sought after club pro job in the U.S. was Baltusrol Golf Club. Over 300 pros applied for the position of Director of golf and the selection committee narrowed it down to three pros: Bob Ross from Sawgrass Country Club, Eddie Merrins at Bel Air Country Club, and Bobby Greenwood who had just left the PGA Tour after seven years as a player.After Greenwood was interviewed at Dallas, Texas and at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, he was selected as the man for the job at Baltusrol. The selection committee had promised Bob Ross an interview so they said they would go to Sawgrass for the Ross interview eventhough they had already awarded the position to Greenwood. But after the visit to famous Sawgrass which was preparing for the upcoming TPC, the committee was awed by the great atmosphere and they changed their minds! Greenwood was contacted by phone in Florida as he was there at the PGA Merchandise Show to buy for the newly built Pro Shop at Baltusrol.

When Bobby called Bob Ross to congratulate him for being chosen as Head Pro for Baltusrol he also asked about the Sawgrass position that was now open. he was surprised to learn that Sawgrass was the number one club job in the U.S.!

After being at Sawgrass for a short time, a committee from Houston, Texas representing the prestigious River Oaks Country Club entered in the Pro Shop and offered to buy Bobby’s contract from Sawgrass in order to get him to be the Head Pro at River Oaks. Bobby declined their offer of more money and stayed at Sawgrass. The selection committee then hired Dick Harmon for the job at Houston, Texas.

***Interview done by Elma Greenwood of Bobby Greenwood, Cookeville, Tennessee, 1998.




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