Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I've only met a very few people that I really didn't like.

Billy Leigh headed that list. This started way back in

ancient times of the late 1940's.

I was first exposed to Billy at the Fla. High School Golf

Championship.He and several other junior golfers

were gathered around the first teein Lakeland.

They were trying to decide who among them was

going to win the driving contest.

None of them did or even came close.

Afterwards, all except Billy came over and

introduced themselves and congratulated me.

He was sulking all by himself. They had all been

playing in junior tournaments in central Florida

for several years. I was an unknown outsider

from the swamps of southwest Fla.

In the semifinals, I met up with Billy again

and found him to be unfriendly, arrogant

and egotistical. Usually I was more concerned

with beating par than my opponent, but this

was different. I really wanted to beat him.

We finished all even after 18 holes.

In sudden death, he holed out a bunker shot

to tie my birdie. On the next hole he drove

deep into the woods, but got a favorable

ruling from his home course pro and

birdied the hole, while I parred. That

didn't endear him to my heart either.

Several months later we met again in the State

Junior Tournament, which was stroke play.

He won that tournament, which made me like

him even less. My disappointment was eased

when I learned my second place finish qualified

me for the National Junior that was held in

Lincoln Nebraska. That was a 3 ½ day train

ride each way, shared by Billy and me.

I certainly didn't look forward to that.

The local Junior Chamber of Commerce paid

all our expenses. I lost out in the second

round, but Billy made it to the semifinals.

I caddied for him when he lost to the

eventual winner- Gene Littler (later a

first line playing pro).

After the tournament was over,

while waiting for our trains, Billy and I

were one of five two man state teams

that played nine holes. Included in the

group was the Texas team of Littler

and Billy Maxwell. (another future pro).

We started out with one dollar bets all

around, but the betting quickly escalated.

Billy kept doubling up on all bets and we

weren't doing very well. I asked him on the

9th hole, “ Billy, how much are we down?”

He said, “Oh! 'bout a hunnerd dollars.”

!!!! I didn't have a hundred dollars.!!!

I said,” God, if you'll get me out of this, I'll never

gamble again.” --- He did, and I didn't.---

I hit an eight iron about 160 yards right in

the cup for an eagle, and we won two or three bucks.

On the train ride home, I got to know Billy

a lot better and underneath his exterior

demeanor, he was really a nice guy. He was

only 16, and emotionally even younger, but

when I mentioned that I felt very bad that I

had let down our JACEES, Billy consoled me.

He was an orphan that had been adopted

by a doctor and his wife. I finally realized that

he had just built a psychological protective

shell around himself. He was really just

insecure. We became good friends on that

long ride home.

Several years later, I saw him again.

It was at a Florida Gator football game. I

hadn't been playing golf or keeping up with

it since my freshman year at college and

was anxious to know how he was doing.

We had a real nice reunion, but it was our

last meeting.

A few more years past, and I was in pilot

training in Bartow Fla. On Saturday we had

the day off and several of us went to play golf

in Winter Haven. To my pleasant surprise,

the pro at the golf course, was Jerry Schulteis,

who was the first alternate to Billy and me,

for the Nebraska trip. I asked Jerry if he

knew what ever became of Billy. I had

expected to see his name on the pro tour.

Jerry gave me a shocker. Billy had been

caught by his step father while having an

affair with his step-mother, and was told

--- “Get out of this house right now

or I'll kill you.” Billy allegedly said,

“You ain't got the guts”.

Billy was shot dead right then and there.

That tough shell that he had built for himself

did him in. Too bad, underneath he was a

good guy and would have been a great golfer.

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