Written by Tyler Conlin
In the golden age of golf at the University of Texas, there were many amazing golfers that passed through the golfing program. One such player was George Machock, who attended the University from 1967 to 1971. Machock witnessed, and was an important part of, the rise of the University of Texas golf team to national prominence under Coach George Hannon. With teammates like Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, and Dean Overturf to play alongside, it is no wonder why Machock and his teammates were able to give a program with such a rich history its first national championship.
[List of Accomplishments]
- 1966- Won Stanley Callahan team championship trophy at Texas State Junior Golf Tournament along with teammates Tom Kite, Lester Lundell, and William Cromwell
- 1970- Austin Men’s City Champion
- 1970- Won All-America Intercollegiate 2-ball Golf Tournament paired with Dean Overturf
- 1970- Voted Most Valuable Player for golf by University of Texas Ex-Students’ Association.
- 1968 and 1970- Part of Southwest Conference Winning UT Golf Team
- 1970 and 1971- All-American honorable mention
- Part of 1971 National Championship UT golf team
George Machock was born on September 7, 1948 with golf in his blood. His father was San Antonio professional Frank Machock and he wasted no time in teaching his son how to play the game. It did not take long for little George to catch on, as he would win the second tournament he ever entered. The tournament was the 1959 San Antonio Junior Golf Tournament nine-hole division and took home the title as a 10-year-old. It would be a struggle, however, as he was forced to go seven extra holes due to his competition keeping up with his pace. It would come much easier the following year for George, as he would repeat as nine-hole champ in the same tournament. In his early years, George split his time between school and golf. He attended St. Edward’s High School in Austin, and his hard work on the greens would lead him to playing collegiate golf at the University of Texas.
A True Longhorn
It was a sign of things to come. George Machock teamed up with Tom Kite, William Cromwell, and Lester Lundell in the 1966 Texas State Junior Golf Championship and gave the state a glimpse of what the nation would see just a few years later. The potent foursome, all future winners of one, or more, of Austin’s three major amateur tournaments, came together to destroy the competition. They would win the Stanley Callahan team championship trophy by a whopping 12 strokes. This would mark the beginning of a friendship that would ultimately land Kite, Cromwell, and Machock together at UT, thus starting the dream to win a national championship together. George didn’t only take home team honors from that State Junior Championship, however, as he would win the third-flight final after defeating defending San Antonio Men’s city Champion George Tucker by 1 stroke in a 19-hole match.
Machock would begin his tenure at the University in 1967, majoring in Business Administration and playing golf for George Hannon. It would be a couple years before his friends could join him, but he took this time to show off his individual skills. In the 1967 Fourth of July Tournament, he would take home the championship consolation crown after defeating George McCall in a playoff after both had shot a 72 for the course. In the 1969 L.R. Goldman Intercollegiate Golf Tournament against golfing powerhouse University of Houston and LSU, Machock lead the Texas team throughout the tournament with the lowest score for his team, a 302. It would not be enough, however, to overcome Houston’s large lead, and Texas would finish in second. He would help his team once again by shooting a 221 to help the University of Texas take home the 1969 Morris Williams Title by an destroying the competition by a whopping 17-strokes. Tom Kite would join the Texas squad in 1969, and Machock welcomed him to the team by upsetting him in the 1969 Firecracker Open to gain the medal-play finals. However, it would be another legendary Longhorn and future part of the Texas national championship team that would take the title, Ben Crenshaw. In the Men’s City Championship that same year the Longhorns would clog the podium as Ben Crenshaw finished first, Tom Kite in second, and Cromwell and Machock tied for third.
In the 1970 Harvey Penick Invitational, Machock would finish second behind Bonham Magness. After missing a 12-foot putt by inches on the 18th hole, Machock finished with a 214 for the course, one behind Magness. That second place finish quickly became a thing of the past, as George got on a hot-streak. He would tie for medalist honors with a 3-under 68 in the 1970 SWC Championship opening match against SMU, while helping his team win the title after sinking a clutch 20-foot putt on the 18th to give the Horns a victory that would have slipped away had George missed. In the SWC individual medalist championship golf tournament, Machock had taken the lead at the halfway point over his teammates Kite and Overturf, shooting a 4-under 140, but would eventually come up just short. The defeat would have to be pushed out of Machock’s mind quickly as he was preparing for the 1970 Austin Men’s City Championship.
A photo of the Texas Golf Team with trophies. George Machock is kneeling, second from the left, 1970.
He wasn’t a favorite going in, but he didn’t let that bother him. The tournament was played in high winds and wet conditions, which made it all the more difficult. He seemed out of the race after the first 8 holes, but after he birdied the 9th and the other two contenders, David Roberts and Chuck Munson bogied, Machock said he got a “mental lift because suddenly I was back in the match.” The tournament was forced into a play-off after Machock tied with Texas transfer David Roberts. It would take five holes of sudden death before Machock was named the winner. He had calmly sunk a three-foot putt for par and said afterward, “It sure feels great to win, but I thought David played very well and should be proud of his score today.” This win would be the only major amateur title Machock would win in the city of Austin, and can be viewed as his crowning individual achievement.
Before long, he was back to being the consummate teammate at Texas and lead the Horns to the 1970 All-America win in Houston, taking home individual honors by shooting a 71, beating Houston’s own Tom Jenkins by two strokes. He also took home the 2-ball title with Dean Overturf. Coming off his great year, George was honored by being named captain of the UT golf team. His squad would fall short in its All-America repeat attempt, finishing second despite Machock’s best efforts. He finished with a score of 283, the second best of all the participants, but his strong individual effort wasn’t enough to defeat the eventual winners, the Florida Gators.
Leading up to the 1971 NCAA golf tournament, the Longhorns were having a bit of an up and down stretch. They had lost to the University of Houston by 18 strokes in the Border Olympics Golf Tournament, but took that loss and turned it into three consecutive wins at the Louisiana State University Corbett Intercollegiate, Harvey Penick Inter collegiate, and Lakeway Intercollegiate. Immediately prior to the NCAA Championship UT lost two close tournaments, both by two strokes. One was to the loss to Florida Gators at the All-America Intercollegiate and the other was to Oklahoma State at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate in Austin.
Prior to the NCAA tournament and ever since 1964, when Coach George Hannon had taken over as golf coach, Hannon had lobbied for the SWC to switch formats from round-robin match play to stroke play in a single annual tournament. Hannon’s was quoted as saying, “I think as long as the NCAA championships are stroke play we need to play that way, too. The Southwest Conference is the only one which determines its championship by match play so it’s got to be a little bit backward.” The SWC refused to change the format, which would have created consistency with the various other tournaments the golf team competed in. Because of this refusal, UT announced in 1969 that they would not be competing in SWC matches and would focus exclusively on tournament play. Despite their recent losses, the Longhorns had kept their eyes on the prize and focused all their energy on tournaments with the same format as the NCAA Tournament. Because of this, the Longhorns went into the tournament as favorites.
The Horns were down big, hovering in fourth place, 15 strokes behind the leader going into the last day of the NCAA Tournament. Things weren’t going so well and Machock said of their performance, “We’d hit putts that would go in and lip out and we’d hit shots that looked super….say your ball would hit two feet from the hole and would wind up 12 feet by it.” Despite their poor play thus far, Coach Hannon wouldn’t let them quit. Machock told the Austin American Statesman, “Coach said Friday night that it was doubtful but he said, ‘If you all can shoot 12 under, you might have a chance. I thought at the time if we shot 12 under, the other teams will start choking a little.” What would occur on the final day of the tournament can only be described as a miracle.
Machock gave his version of the events: “The spark was Kite. He fired everybody up. What he did was phenomenal. You don’t start birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle. We all talked to each other and said, ‘Let’s just keep it burning.” After Kite, Cromwell, Tucker and Machock finished their rounds they went to watch Crenshaw who had just finished the ninth hole. Machock said, “Ben was coming through on nine three under, so were really excited then. We got a bunch of Gatorade and held it for him while he sank those putts. We felt Ben was just gonna come through because he’s that kind of guy.”
The win was truly miraculous, as the Horns came from down 15 coming into the final day of the tournament to win by 7. As well as Texas played on the final day, the other teams collapsed just as hard. Wake Forest went 7-over on the day, Houston went 9-over, and Florida went 13-over. The final scores ended up as follows: Machock and George Tucker shot a 292, William Cromwell shot a 290, and Tom Kite a 289. But the real story was Ben Crenshaw, who led the Horns to victory by finishing with an unheard of 273, 15-under par, which was a record that stood for 21 years, until a man named Phil Mickelson came along. With the lowest four round scores counting toward the team total, Crenshaw’s amazing play helped the Texas team take a 7 stroke win over the “giant of the collegiate golf world at the time,” University of Houston. Coach Hannon said of his team, “I guess you’d have to say it was a tremendous team effort. I’ve never heard of anything like it.”
The win was made even sweeter by the fact that four of the five competitors on the Longhorn squad were Austinites. The win was even more special for Cromwell and Machock due to the fact that they were both seniors and it was their last chance to make some noise as collegiate athletes. Machock said, “Four of us are from Austin and ever since we were kids, we wanted to win a national championship together. I’m glad that George and I tied because that means all five of us won the tournament, and not just four-which is a lot better because it makes it more of a team effort rather than leaving one guy out.”
All about Team
As you can see from that last quote by Machock, he always got more satisfaction as a teammate, and rarely liked the spotlight to be focused on him. Whether it was when he praised his competitor after winning the Austin Men’s City Title, or just cheering on his fellow Longhorns as they clawed their way back in the most important golf win in the University’s history, Machock always held his team and his respect for the competition above himself. He had set out with his friends and fellow Austinites early in his golfing career, with a goal to join up in burnt-orange and fight for a national championship. Machock capped off his collegiate career with a bang, and accomplished what he and his teammates had set out to do. He may not have been the most dominant individual player in Austin’s golf history, but through his respect for the game and his team mentality, none can deny the fact that he is a major part of that history nonetheless.
The 1971 University of Texas Longhorn Golf Team
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- Tom Kite Scrapbook Artifact Box #75. Stark Center Archives, “1969-171”. University of Texas at Austin. Pages 7, 25, 27, and 29
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