Greenwood appreciating past success these days
“Honestly, the Internet and my website and the wonderful articles by the sports editor of the paper validated what I did,” said Greenwood. “Even I had forgotten.”
Some of Greenwood’s more memorable golfing escapades are already noted in five different books: My 55 Ways to Lower Your Golf Score by Jack Nicklaus; My Story by Jack Nicklaus; Southern Golf Association: The First Hundred Years by Gene Pearce; The History of Tennessee Golf by Gene Pearce; and, most recently, The History of Sunnehanna Country Club and the Sunnehanna Amateur by John Yerger III. But once he and Elma began researching his past successes for the website, even Greenwood was impressed.
“When my wife put this stuff together and we put the stuff together for the paper, I should of had more confidence (as a player),” Greenwood admitted. “I was a better player than I realized. I think it’s important for a golfer or an athlete to make a note of his accomplishments and awards and read those while they are playing. We forget.”
Greenwood’s career is hardly forgettable. Once he began teeing it up at the Cookeville Country Club at age 12, his work ethic and desire to be the best helped propel him to star status as an amateur and in college.
During the 1960s, he dominated amateur play in the state of Tennessee, winning the 1966 State Amateur and the 1968 State Open, becoming just the third of eight golfers to win both tournaments. He was ranked by Golf Magazine among the nation’s Top 10 amateurs on two occasions. He is just one of seven golfers to ever win the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur twice, setting the course record with a 63. Most recently, Greenwood was honored in June by the tournament officials at Sunnehanna in Johnstown, Pa., for his past success as a two time champion.
“It was a moving experience. It was really gratifying the way they treated me,” said Greenwood. “They gave me a sport coat and some framed pictures and they were glad to see me. That’s always nice.”
The day after Greenwood flew home to Cookeville, his record fell to one of the participants in the Sunnehanna tournament after 43 years.
“They thought the course record was going to last forever because it had for 43 years,” Greenwood said. “I’ve had somewhere around 30 course records. This was the last course record that hadn’t been broken.”
Records were meant to be broken and Greenwood certainly had his share. In college, he began his career at Tennessee Tech where he finished as the runner-up in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament as a freshman. He then transferred to North Texas State where he was a three-time All-American, placing second in three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Championships.
Perhaps his most notable, and gratifying, golfing experience came during his college years when he playing at Colonial Country Club in Memphis. Greenwood took on Jack Nicklaus, who has won more major championships than any other golfer, and beat him in match play.
“All I thought about was winning a tournament,” confessed Greenwood. “If I finished fourth or fifth, it didn’t mean anything. I went to Niagara Falls last year and I told Elma I played in the Porter Cup there. We went to Niagara Falls Country Club and they remembered me. They pulled out the program and said ‘Hey, you finished fourth.’ Fourth meant absolutely nothing to me at the time. It was just another failure. Then you look down the list behind me and those great players, who accomplished a lot more than I did, I beat them at that time. I didn’t know that.”
Greenwood beat some good players while he was on the PGA Tour. After turning pro in 1969, he made the cut in 72 PGA events, finishing in the top 10 six times and in the top 25 in 15 different tournaments. His lone victory on the Tour came in 1970 when he won the Rhode Island Open. But injuries played a key role in Greenwood’s decision to leave the Tour in 1975.
“The last tournament I played on tour was the Mexico Open in Mexico City. I remember having a three or four foot par putt and thinking this will be the last putt I will hit as a Tour player and it was,” recalled Greenwood.
“My wrist was in bad shape and my back was bad. I had neck problems and it was becoming pretty tough to play so I quietly retired.”
Greenwood began living the life of a club pro after retiring from the Tour, taking over the No. 1 club job in America at TPC Sawgrass. He recently returned to TPC Sawgrass and enjoyed some fellowship with current PGA Tour players during a recent PGA tournament.
“It was nice,” said Greenwood. “I had breakfast with the Tour players and they introduced me as a former Tour player. It was very gratifying.”
The attention and accolades Greenwood has been getting lately is very gratifying for the 69-year-old. In 2002, he was inducted into the North Texas Hall of Fame. This past year, Greenwood was one of the charter members inducted into Riverside Military Academy’s Sports Hall of Fame. At Riverside, in addition to golf, he excelled in baseball and basketball.
But for his golfing achievements, Greenwood was enshrined in the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame last fall, becoming the 30th member of the distinguished group.
“It’s an honor,” said Greenwood. “It’s nice to be appreciated.”
While Greenwood has found a new appreciation for his career, he also appreciates the people around him such as his wife and his 9-year-old daughter Viola. He also appreciates a man who was his longtime friend and golfing partner Bobby Nichols. After giving Greenwood’s introduction speech at the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame ceremonies, Nichols died a few months later from complications in his fight against cancer.
His loss has been felt more by Greenwood than any loss on the golf course.
“I miss him,” said Greenwood. “He and I were like brothers. There will never be another Bobby Nichols.”
Greenwood doesn’t get out and play much golf anymore. He spends time with his family and is still in the golfing business, giving lessons and working as a golf architect when called upon. If he wants to remember something from his great golfing past, all he has to do is log on to the Internet and look at his website and take a walk down memory lane.