Written by Tyler Conlin
By the time Lester Lundell was 9 years old, he had a golf club in his hands. It would take young Lester only 6 years to become one of the winningest junior golfers in Austin’s history. “Lumpy” Lundell will be remembered as the only Austin golfer in history to capture the titles of Austin Junior City Championship, Austin Men's Championship, and the Austin Senior Men's City Championship. His golfing resume includes a State Junior Championship and is packed full of wins over a span of fifty years. Lundell has shown time and time again that success can be achieved at any age.
List of Accomplishments
- Austin Junior Golf Tourney winner: 1959, 1960 (12-and-under) 1962 (17-and-under)
- State Junior Golf Title: 1964 (runner up in 1965)
- 4 Men’s City Championships: 1966, 1972, 1977, 1979
- 3 Harvey Penick Championships: 1969, 1972, 1975
- 2 Men’s City Senior Championships: 2006, 2007
- Marlin Country Club low ball partnership tournament winner: 1965 (Paired with Cary Petri)
- 2ndAustin Invitational Pro-Am Golf Tournament winner: 1969 (Paired with Hal Underwood)
- Aqua Fest Golf Title: 1971
- 5 straight Austin Country Club Championship (1974-1979)
- Only golfer to win Austin Junior, Austin Men's City Championship, and Austin Senior Men's City Championship
The Definition of an Athlete
Born in 1947, Lester grew up loving four distinctly different sports: football, baseball, basketball and golf. In junior-high, Lundell was an all-city basketball player and a borderline prodigy on the baseball mound. In fact, in a little-league game in 1960, he pitched a no-hitter. He was a widely touted quarterback prospect and punter when he attended Austin High School, but an injury temporarily knocked him out of contact sports. Because of this injury, Lester was able to turn his focus back to another sport that he had been dominating for years: golf.
The Reign of “Lumpy”
After picking up the game at the age of 9, Lester won the 1959 12-and-under Austin Junior Golf Tourney at the age of 11, and won the event again in 1960 at age 12. After an illness kept him from defending his back-to-back victories in the 1961 tournament, Lester stormed back in 1962 in the 17-and-under bracket, taking home the title as a 14-year-old, making him a perfect 3 for 3 in the event. His perfection streak would come to a close, however, when he lost in the 1964 finals of the City Junior tournament to Dan Simpson. Despite losing in the city championship, Lundell went on to take home a more prestigious title when he went on to win the State Junior Golf Tournament that same year. His main competition for the event that took place in San Antonio was the son of a professional golfer, Chip Stewart. Despite the stiff competition, Lundell went on to take the title at only age 16, but was unable to repeat the next year, earning runners-up honors.
At the time, the state junior tournament was very prestigous and received excellent press coverage. For example, in the photo below, a TV cameraman is taking footage of Tom Kite on the tee while Austinites William Cromwell and Lester Lundell watch.
Lester led his group of James Allman, Rick Fountain, and Patsy Eilers to a championship in the 1961 54-hole Labor Day Grand Four-ball Tournament. The group scored a collective 193 with a staggering 24-under-par 63 on the final day of the tournament. A year after his triumph at the State Junior’s, Lundell would pair with his friend Cary Petri in the 1965 Marlin Country Club low ball partnership tournament, which they would go on to win. This would mark the end of Lundell’s junior career, but it wouldn’t be long before he would raise his first Men’s City Championship and start an entirely new success story.
Stepping It Up
When a reporter asked Lester why he was given the nickname “Lumpy” Lundell responded, “’Cause I don’t have any corners.” Lester was referring to the circular build of his body, but the same quote could be applied to his golf game. It would be this well-rounded game that would lead to Lester taking home four Men’s City Championships, three Harvey Penick Championships and five consecutive Austin Country Club Championships in the span of eleven years.
The run would start with Lester, now a freshman at Blinn College, taking home the 1966 Men’s City Championship by defeating William Cromwell, 3-2. The result wasn’t always certain, as Lester would be forced to come back from one-down after 9 holes. Lundell was quoted as saying, “On the front nine, the wind was blowing me off balance on my putts, so I took a wider stance on the back nine. Then, too, I was a little nervous.” Despite that nervousness, Lundell was able to go on to win the match. The following year, Lester would take home the Men’s City Championship Consolation Crown. Unfortunately for Lundell, he would run into the dynamic duo that was Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw in the late 1960’s and 70’s, but that didn’t stop him from winning his share of titles.
After a few down years, Lundell came back with a vengeance in the 1969 Harvey Penick Tournament, winning the tourney by shooting an even par. Lester’s cited the reason for his success as being a practice session with Mr. Penick himself. Lundell told the Austin-American Statesman, “I putted real well in this tournament…I owe that man (Harvey Penick) a lot for helping me.” Lester rode this wave of success through his pairing with professional Hal Underwood in the 2ndAustin Invitiational Pro-Am Golf Tournnament, winning the tournament and taking home a “merchandise award” (while Hal took home $2,000). Because of his hot shooting, “Lumpy” was the heavy favorite going into the 1970 Harvey Penick, but Lester wasn’t very confident going in. “I’ve just been playing so-so,” he told the Austin-American. That lack of confidence would cost him, as he finished in 3rdplace.
Lester would get back on track by winning the 1971 Aqua Fest Golf Title at Austin Municipal golf course. Despite soggy grass from heavy rains and shooting a 4-over par for the course, Lester would outlast the rest of the field and take home the title. This event may have given him some form of confidence in poor conditions because he would go into the 1972 Men’s City championship that had greens Lester described as “the worst I’ve ever seen” and come out with a victory. This win wasn’t just any old victory…it wasn’t even close! Lundell would win the tournament by a whopping nine strokes and finish with a score of 286. Lester said his win came because he “didn’t have to gamble because no one was really pushing me.” This event could be seen as a turning point in Lundell’s career, as it pushed him toward winning the Harvey Penick later that year and again in 1975, as well as the Men’s City Championships in 1977 and 1979. During that span, he also won five consecutive Austin Country Club Championships (1974-1979).
Finishing It Off
After his fourth and final Men’s City Championship in 1979 put him in a tie for second most all-time behind Roane Puett, Lester took a break from winning championships until he decided to show the city of Austin his brilliance one last time by winning back-to-back Men’s City Senior Championships in 2006 and 2007. With one of the most outstanding and long-lasting amateur careers in the history of Austin, Lundell’s success across all levels can only be seen as remarkable. In fact, his run could have potentially been even more spectacular if he hadn’t run into the juggernaut that was Kite and Crenshaw. Perhaps legendary golf coach and mentor Harvey Penick summed up Lester Lundell’s game best when he said, “Lester has always had a solid, sound, compact swing – one that will probably be with him for years and years. I’ve always felt that if he had chosen to turn professional, he would have done well on the tour. He’s truly an outstanding golfer.”
- “Austin Golfers Win at Marlin.” Dallas Morning News 3 May 1965: Print.
- “Chip Falls in Finals.” Dallas Morning News 15 Aug. 1964: Print.
- “Underwood Duo’s 129 Wins.” Dallas Morning News 24 Nov. 1969: Print.
- Lester Lundell Scrapbook. Stark Center Archives, “Lundell Page 1a-1”. University of Texas at Austin.
- Also used from this collection:
- “Lundell Box 1961-1965-clip-6”.
- “Lundell Box 1971-1965-clip-3”.
- “Lundell Page 18a-clip”.
- ”Lundell 1964 Championship Bracket+Article”.
- “Lundell Box Envelope Lundell Joe ACC-clip-2”.
- “Lundell Box Envelope 2 Lundell Joe ACC-clip-1”.
- “Lundell Box Envelope 2 Lundell Joe ACC-clip-7”.
- “Lundell Box Envelope 4 Lundell Joe ACC-clip-2”.
- “Lundell Box Envelope 4 Lundell Joe ACC-clip-5”.
- “Lundell Box Envelope 5 Lundell Joe ACC-clip-1”.
- Also used from this collection: