Ultimate Doug Shipp Story
It has been suggested that as friends with Doug, I should share some stories. Of course I have many of them, most are Triple X rated. And since my grandchildren could be reading this blog, I want to keep things somewhat on the clean side. But as it happens, one of the best stories I have about Doug is perfectly suitable for publication.
I was the Golf Course Superintendent at Crown Colony Country Club in Lufkin, TX in the early 1980s. The golf course was quite beautiful, nestled in the piney woods of East Texas. It would become the premier golf course in Texas, and rated number one in the state by Golf Digest for almost ten years.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. In 1980, when the course was opening, the powers that be wanted to put Crown Colony on the map. They decided to host a Pro-Am golf tournament. The tournament date landed between the Byron Nelson and the Houston Open.
No expense was spared. Professional golfers and golf-enthusiast celebrities were flown in on Arthur Temple's private jet. James Garner was there, and when I introduced him to my wife, he kissed her on the cheek.
The Pro-Am was a very big deal.
Needless to say I was working my ass off preparing the course for the big day. Doug had just started playing golf and was enamored with the idea of getting a front row seat to see pro golfers, so he drove to Lufkin, spent the night and went to work with me the day of the tournament well before dawn.
Satisfied that the course was in pristine condition, I decided to relax a little and have a cup of coffee with Doug. We went in the locker room and shot the breeze with the staff and some of the pros. There were a lot of golf pros and celebrities there.
Doug was in hog heaven. Bull*ing with anyone was his pastime, but a real live golf pro! He was star struck.
But as the morning wore on, time started to get critical, and I told Doug that he might have to leave, because he didn't have a security pass to be in the locker room.
Sure as the world, here comes my boss. And my boss just happened to be a gold plated, bona fide *hole. The kind of boss who thought he wasn't doing a good job unless he micromanaged and chewed someone out once a day for any minor detail or phantom "problem" he could conjure up.
I was worried he would freak when he realized I had brought my friend inside the locker room.
He came up to me, slapped me on the back and said, "The course looks great. Fine job!"
Then he looked at Doug and quickly noticed no security pass. My gut clenched.
Boss to Doug: "Can I help you?"
With no hesitation, cool as a cucumber, Doug sticks out his hand and says to Boss:
"Doug Shipp. Fort Worth Star Telegram. Just got here and your man... (He patted me on the back) ...was gracious enough to get me a Dr. Pepper. He seems to be the only son of a bitch here that has tried to help. I couldn't find out where to get my press pass. How the hell am I going to write a story?"
Boss, all flustered, jumped into action.
"Let me fix that!"
He quickly came back with a press pass for Doug. He said, "I apologize for your trouble! And here is a pass for the luncheon."
I'm thinking: Hell fire! I didn't even get invited to the luncheon.
True to form, just as cool as he could be, Doug disappeared and the next time I saw him, he was at the head of one of the tables shooting the breeze with Lee Trevino.