by Buddy Pearson
Herald-Citizen Managing Editor
KNOXVILLE — There aren’t many things in life that make Bobby Greenwood speechless. Getting inducted into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame however, is one of them.
In front of family, friends and several of his peers, Greenwood earned his place among Tennessee’s golfing greats on Wednesday night when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Holston Hills Country Club.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Greenwood. “I’m speechless.”
While Greenwood was overwhelmed and at times speechless, his longtime friend and golfing partner Bobby Nichols wasn’t. Nichols gave a lengthy, heart-felt introduction speech before presenting Greenwood with his plaque.
“We have been friends for many years and we grew up together,” remarked Nichols. “I’ve watched his game progress through the years. I know what kind of player he was back then and how good he was. He is a great man. He’s done all the things you need to do to be in the hall of fame. It is a great honor for him to receive this award and a great honor for me to present it to him.”
Greenwood, who was inducted alongside Joe Campbell, is one of 30 members of the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame. He joins a distinguished group which includes Lou Graham, Waxo Green, Cary Middlecoff, Lew Oehmig, Curtis Person, Sr., Betty Probasco, Mason Rudolph, Gibby Gilbert, Jack Lupton, Hillman Robbins, Judy Eller Street, Ted Rhodes, Harold Eller, Sarah Ingram, Don Malarkey, Pat Abbott, Ed Brantly, Polly Boyd, Emmett Spicer, Marguerite Gaut, Margaret Gunther Lee, Katherine Graham, Harry “Cotton” Berrier, Vince Gill, David Stone, Lauren Roberts, Connie Day and Ann Baker Furrow.
“The biggest honor is to be inducted with Joe Campbell,” said Greenwood. “I’ll take it. God is good. I’m speechless.”
After being introduced to golf at the Cookeville Country Club at the age of 12, Greenwood’s amateur career took off like a rocket. 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 accomplish the feat. He was one of just seven golfers to ever win the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur twice and was ranked by Golf Magazine among the nation’s Top 10 amateurs on two occasions.
Greenwood began a glorious collegiate career at Tennessee Tech, finishing as the Ohio Valley Conference runner-up as a freshman. After transferring to North Texas State, he was a three-time All-American while finishing second in three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Championships.
After turning pro in 1969, he made the cut in seventy-two PGA events, finishing in the Top 10 six times and in the Top 25 in 15 different tournaments.
“I’ve learned so much from him,” said Nichols. “I think it’s a good for someone from Cookeville to be inducted into the golf hall of fame. It’s a great honor.”
One of Greenwood’s most notable golfing accomplishments came at Colonial Country Club in Memphis where he beat Jack Nicklaus in match play. Nicklaus wrote about the match in a book and Greenwood included the victory in his acceptance speech.
“I don’t get to talk much about that,” Greenwood said to the audience.
Greenwood’s acceptance speech also included a joke as well as a prayer. He said there were too many people to thank as he appeared to be deeply moved by the standing ovation he received when introduced by Nichols.
“It’s overwhelming,” Greenwood told the Herald-Citizen. “The most important thing to me is people and people came from El Paso, Texas and Melbourne, Florida and from South Carolina to be here. It was so moving. I had a great speech all ready and I got so tore up I couldn’t say too much. It tugs at your heart-strings. One time I was about ready to cry and I thought, ‘This can’t happen.’”
Greenwood’s former caddie Jim Bass attended the ceremony even though he and Greenwood hadn’t seen each other since 1975.
“He’s the one who got me into this crazy caddie business,” said Bass, who met Greenwood in March of 1970. “I was real pleased to get the invitation to come up here. There’s not a better person than Bobby. He’s a far better person than a golfer and that’s saying a lot.”
Published September 06, 2007 12:12 PM CDT