Thompson Tees Off - Subscriber

Issue 264 - March 22, 2018

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Thompson teesoff "Alabama's Golf Insider" Thompson teesoff 3.22.18 Click our Icon to Subscribe! When Dave Ragan Jr. played in the 1963 Ryder Cup at East Lake Club in Atlanta, it was not the worldwide spectacle that it has become today. "That didn't stop me being more nervous than I've ever been though," Ragan told me almost 20 years ago. "I was paired with Billy Casper for the first day's foursomes matches. He was a veteran and I was up-and-coming. Neither of us wanted to hit the opening tee shot. I told him I was too nervous and he told me that he was the veteran and that it was his choice that I should hit first. We didn't think about strategy at all. He eventually wound up hitting first and we were on our way." Ragan, who passed away last week aged 82, has always remained close to the game of golf. I got to know him when he was Director of Instruction at Pine Tree Country Club, from late 1995 until 2010, when we spent a lot of time together working on the premise of a book about his life, but the book never came to fruition. "He was one of the kindest men I have ever known and would do anything for anyone, Paul Whitman, Director of Golf at Pine Tree, said. "I know he was a friend to many and a mentor to countless PGA Professionals." Now, please allow me to revisit a story I wrote in 1999 about Ragan. He grew up in Daytona Beach, Fla. and had his first introduction to golf when he was 10 years old. His father, Dave Sr., was a dental surgeon and he struck up a deal with the professional at Daytona Beach Country Club Curdy Byrd that he would look after his family's teeth if Byrd would help young Dave with his golf game. (Curdy Byrd is one-time NorthRiver Yacht Club's Director of Golf Butch Byrd's father and was the brother of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame member Sam Byrd). "I started with just one club - a 7-iron - for a couple of years." "He (Curdy) was a strict disciplinarian. He was a stickler for holding your balance until the ball hit the was boring sometimes. If I didn't do it, he'd take a club and pop me on the calf. It helped though. He preached a good grip, good balance, good finish." Ragan progressed quickly in the game, winning the Florida State Junior, the Future Masters and the State Fourball, all in 1953. So off he headed to the University of Florida golf team. Andy Bracken was his coach his freshman year, with the legendary Conrad Rehling taking over the next year. (Rehling, of course, Local golf legend Dave Ragan passes away Dave Ragan in his early years on the PGA Tour. In recognition of the milestone of reaching my 250th issue, I'm pleased to offer a spe- cial "Lifetime" subscription offer of $100 for 10 years of issues! That's right, this special offer is available now and will mean you won't have to pay $30 annually, but rather a one-time payment of $100 for up to 10 years of issues. This option is available when you click the Subscribe Now! button. teesoff Issue No. 264

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