Most golfers have a circle of people with whom they enjoy playing the game of golf. In some cases they have played together for years. The Saturday morning game of Cary Petri, Marshall Hinton, Steve Trafton and Tony Pitifer at Lions Municipal or the Tuesday skins game at Roy Kiser/Jimmy Clay are typical of the friendly gatherings you will find at every course.
When people get together to play golf, they play golf. But perhaps more importantly, they communicate about what is happening in their lives. They talk about their families, their businesses, the political situation, and life in general. Through the experience, they become friends.
Tom Kite, Chuck Munson, Ben Crenshaw and Richard Buratti, who appear in that order in the photo to the left, are an example of a 50 year friendship that was formed through golf. They got together recently at Austin Country Club to carry on their friendship and their love of the game. It was a glorious fall day in Austin. While they played, they recounted stories of their youthful days, talked of other golfing friends and golf courses, discussed and cussed politicians, caught up on news of their spouses and children, and laughed at jokes that were told. The conversation flew through the air like the long straight drives they pounded out. The enjoyed the day, the company and the golf.
When Tom Kite moved to Austin at age 12, his family joined Austin Country Club and he was introduced to the Austin golfing community. Among the players he met were Chuck Munson, Richard Buratti and Ben Crenshaw. They were 11 to 13 years of age at the time and they played golf together at Austin Country Club.
They also played golf together through junior high, high school and college. While Kite, Munson, and Buratti played on the Lamar Junior High "Scotties" golf team for coach Barbara Puett and then at McCallum for Gordon "Flash" Bennett, Crenshaw was across town at O'Henry Junior High and then at Austin High School were he played for Milton Odell.
Woven into the fabric of their golfing experiences together were various local and state junior tournaments in which they participated. Stories of these adventures together surfaced during the round and the laughter provoked by these memories sometimes interrupted the concentration of the players to the detriment of their game. They didn't care. They were more interested in the stories and the camaraderie than the golf.
Through their junior years, Crenshaw, Kite, Munson and Buratti all played at Austin Country Club, where the membership included Barbara and Roane Puett. Barbara and Roane, who have a total of 11 City Championships between them, have always been a part of these players lives. And, when Barbara happened to show up at the course on the day the group was playing, she could not resist getting her junior high golf team to pose for a photo with her. Mike Allen, who was also on her team at Lamar Junior High, was caddying for Buratti during the round and joined the group for the picture. Left to right are Kite, Munson, Buratti, Puett, Allen and Crenshaw.
College and Beyond
Kite, Crenshaw and Munson went on to play college golf at The University of Texas and Buratti attended Texas A&M University but did not play golf for the Aggies. Well known to the golfing world, Kite and Crenshaw went on to become members of the Golf Hall of Fame. Munson had a successful career as an attorney. Buratti was successful in real estate. And, they always played golf together when the occasion allowed.
One interesting note about Crenshaw and Munson, who have both been great putters throughout their careers is that they both still use putters they acquired in their youth. Crenshaw, is still putting with a Wilson 8802 that his dad, Charlie Crenshaw, bought for him at Lions Municipal golf course when he was 15. His dad paid $15 for that putter. That was 45 years ago. Munson is still using a Spalding putter that his father acquired from Dudley Krueger in a trade. After his father discarded the putter, Chuck started putting with it about 40 years ago and still rolls the ball beautifully with that putter.
While not everyone has the golfing pedigree of Kite, Crenshaw, Munson or Buratti, the quality of their friendship is something that can be found in golfers of all skill levels. That's a good thing.
We invite the reader to view the photo album of their day together.
We also encourage readers to submit stories of their friendships that have resulted from playing golf together. You can do so in a brief comment below or send a story to firstname.lastname@example.org.