Walter Benson Jr.

Austin Area Golf Titles won by Walter Benson Jr.
1942 - Men’s City Championship
1946 - Austin Country Club Labor Day Invitational ( now titled Harvey Penick Invitational)
1948 - Austin Golf Association July 4th Invitational (now titled Firecracker Open)
1951 – Austin Country Club Labor Day Invitational (now titled Harvey Penick Invitational)
1954 – Austin Golf Association July 4th Invitational (now titled Firecracker Open)
1956 – Men’s City Championship

Other Austin Area Golfing Honors
1950 – Ranked 3rd in Austin golfers by American Statesman selection committee
1951 -  Ranked 2nd in Austin golfers by American Statesman selection committee
1952 –  Runner-Up in Austin Country Club Labor Day Invitational
1953 – Austin Country Club Champion
Ranked 4th in Austin golfers by American Statesman selection committee
1954 – Qualifying Medalist in July 4th Invitational with score of 67 (Firecracker)
1955 – Ranked 4th in Austin golfers by American Statesman selection committee
- Shoots 63-65 at Austin Country Club in one week
1956 – Runner-Up in Austin Golf Association Inviational ( Firecracker)
Ranked 1st in Austin golfers by American Statesman selection committee
1961 – Qualifying Medalist in July 4th Invitational with score of 66 (Firecracker)

Note:  This list of accomplishments are taken from Benson’s Scrapbook and there are undoubtably some omissions from his total golfing resume.  Please feel free to send additional accomplishments to Golf Austin at golfaustintexas@gmail.com

1956 – Walter Benson with the Bill Drake Trophy.

The Bill Drake Trophy was given annually to the top golfer in Austin.  The competition was based on a point system and there were a panel of sportswriters and golfing professionals that voted to establish the top 10 amateur golfers in Austin.   Walter Benson, known as one of the finest ball strikers ever in Austin golfing circles, was named the top golfer in Austin in 1956 and received the Bill Drake Trophy.

Benson, 94 young at the time of this writing, is physically active and mentally sharp.  He spends his days working with his horses and enjoys reading and dancing in the evenings.  He is a multi-facated individual with many talents.

The native austinite graduated from Austin High School and after World War II, completed two degrees at The University of Texas, a Bachelors in Business Administration in 1946 and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering in 1948.

In between high school and graduation from the University, Benson worked in Austin and then served in the United States Army Air Core.  He was as an Aviation Cadet from November 1941 to December 1942  then became a training officer in 1943 and moved on to Squadron Communications Officer in the Eighth Air Force in 1943 and achieved the rank of Captain in the United States Army in May of 1944.  

During the war, Benson receiving electronics training while in the Army and worked in communications, maintaining aircraft radio.  This training in electronics would influence his educational and career choices upon returning to civilian life.  As with many in his generation, the war experience would make him a more mature and serious student, no doubt contributing to his achievement of academic success at the University of Texas.

He married Frances Bolton of Jacksonville Texas July 8th, 1945.  They were married for 60 years until her death in 2005.  They raised two children, Scott and Barbara.  Scott provided two grandchildren, Scott IV and Courtney for Walter to enjoy.

Upon receiving his degree in electrical engineering, Benson worked for Westinghouse in the Northeast.  However, the native Austinite decided to return to his hometown and joined his father’s textbook publishing business, which to this day operates under his father’s name.  He had a sucessful career in the textbook publishing industry and achieved a national reputation for being on the top of his game within his profession.

His son Scott, who followed his grandfather and father into the textbook publishing business described his dad as follows:  “He’s a likeable fellow who gets along with anyone and is comfortable working with all kinds of people, whether they might be a farm hands or a member of a board of directors for a corporation.  Dad would play a round of golf at Muny in a tee shirt and shorts then dress more like a “Dapper Don” for rounds of golf at Austin Country Club and be equally comfortable in either role.”

Benson has been an avid horseman and was part of a group of Austinites that helped bring throughbred horse racing to Texas.  He rode horses around Austin, often riding to the golf course on a horse, as you can hear in the audio excerpts from an interview conducted with Benson in February 2012.

He played golf with the Austinites of his time and enjoyed the game and the people associated with the game.  Along the way he played with Bryon Nelson at Colonial Country Club and Jimmy Demaret at Austin Country Club, witnessing Demaret shoot 60 at the country club when it was at the original location at Hancock.  Benson is on the far right in this picture taken a couple of years ago with (left to right) David Kizer, Gib Kizer, R.D. Kizer and Walter Benson.

Below are audio excerts from an interview with Walter Benson.  The interview provides insight into Benson’s golfing experiences, commentary on other players in Austin, how Austin and Texas golf tournaments were run in the past, and a variety of golfing related subjects over a fifty year period.  It’s a facisinating glimpse of one of Austin’s best golfers and into our golfing community.  Scott Benson, Billy Clagett, and Mike Allen participated in the interview.

2. Two time winner of tournaments
3. Start in Golf
5. Ball striking- Harvey Penick-Lefty Stackhouse
6. Harvey Penick’s Teaching
7. Square Divot’s, Ed White, Fundamentals, Harvey’s emphasis on Square divots
8. Putting
9. Putting & War Trama
10. Posture, Hogan’s Book
11. Walter’s Best Playing Days
12. How tournaments were run
13. Labor Day Tournament, 1940 City Championship, Dudley Krueger
14. 1956 City, McCall, Puett
15. UT Golf, Buck Luce
16. Buck Luce
17. Amateur Golf in Texas in past generations
18. Hogan at Lions Municipal, older courses,
19. Tom Miller Jr.
20. Morris Williams Jr.
21. Family Home, Who designed Lions Municipal
22. Playing Muny
23. Military Service
24. Jimmy Connolly
25. Scrambling and Buck Luce
26. Experiences playing with Jimmy Demerit
27. Bryon Nelson
28. Ben Hogan, Demerit singing
29. Crenshaw & Kite, Fundamentals, Nickname of Cat Benson
30. Roane Puett
33. Walter Benson on Dudley Krueger
35. Publishing Business
37. Horse Racing in Texas
38. Riding Horses to Golf Courses
39. Butler Pitch & Putt, Kinser

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