Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Great Golfer Series - Windell Humphries

I first met Windell in the late 1990’s in Auburn, Alabama while playing in a local scramble tournament. Windell walked out onto the course to visit with a close friend, Steve Autrey, who was playing in our group. At that time, Windell was around sixty years old. Later I would become a member of the Auburn Links Golf Club where Windell was a member. It didn’t take long for me to discover just how accomplished a golfer Windell was. On Saturdays, a large group of low to mid handicap golfers would assemble for an 8:30 A.M. dogfight. The first hole at Auburn Links is a medium distance par four hole which requires a golfer to twice pass over a bending Parkerson’s Mill Creek. One Saturday morning, Windell drove his ball from the member’s tee onto the green on this par four hole rolling his ball amongst a group of golfers that were putting on the green. Windell claimed he didn’t know he could hit the ball this far, but we all accused him of trying to shake up the group on the green. Extraordinary shots seemed to come often for Windell after that day. He duplicated this same feat on the same hole playing with the Secretary at a Hooters tournament at Auburn Links a couple of years ago. He hit his ball onto this same green in one and proceeded to make a fifty foot eagle putt.

In 1999, Windell made his first trip with our group of six Dal Riadans to play the links courses of Northern Ireland and the northwest courses of the Republic. When we arrived at Royal County Down, we encountered a group of Japanese men and women who were teeing off just before us. We were playing in two groups of three with Windell playing in the group behind us. It was immediately apparent that the members of this Japanese group had either never played golf or were not nearly accomplished enough to be playing a course as difficult as Royal County Down. After interminable waits on the first two holes due to the flailing of this Japanese group, their caddies apparently convinced them to wave our first group through on hole three. This left Windell’s group stuck behind the beginners, but not for long. After we finished putting out on the signature par three fourth hole, our group climbed the long series of steps that lead to the fifth tee box. The Japanese party had reached the area of the green on hole four as we were preparing to hit our tee shots on hole five. As the fourth green cannot be seen from the fifth tee ground area, we were startled when suddenly we heard a cacophony of squeals and shouts coming from behind us. We rushed back over the ridge that blocked our line of sight to see what had happened. The Japanese were jumping up and down screaming wildly. Windell’s group had been waved through the Japanese and Windell had promptly scored a hole-in-one on this magnificent 175/215 yard hole. This was the second hole-in-one of Windell’s career. Since then he has had three more. Ironically the Secretary has a little something in common with Windell. Each of us has a hole-in-one on hole sixteen at Auburn Links Golf Club.

Since 1999, Windell has often traveled with our group to play the great links courses of Ireland and the British Isles. As we have timed our trips to facilitate our playing in Ballyliffin Golf Club’s Annual Pro-Am golf tournament, it has fallen that Windell’s birthday has for several years occurred while we are in Ireland. This year we all sang Happy Birthday to Windell at Gilroy’s Restaurant in Enniscrone, Ireland. Our boisterous singing brought an enthusiastic round of applause from all the Irish patrons dining in the packed restaurant that Thursday night. The photo accompanying this post is Windell and caddy Barry at Ballyliffin in 1999.

While playing a nine hole match in the Wynlakes Golf Club’s Member/Guest in June 2008, Windell birdied the first three holes of our match against the winning team. We beat this team 6 1/2 to 3 1/2 but lost to them on points. We did not lose a match, beat the winning team, but still finished second due to the point scoring method employed in this tournament. Windell had numerous other birdies in this tournament which helped us land the second place finish in our bracket.

Windell also scored one of his holes-in-one at Moores Mill Golf Club in 2005 in a Member/Member tournament which helped carry his two man team to a first place finish in the tournament.Prior to his leaving for this year’s trip in 2008 Windell shot his age or under several times. In 2007, he shot a “two under his age” 66 at Moores Mill Golf Club in Auburn picking up eight birdies for the round.
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