Tom Miller, Jr.
Austin Golf Titles Won by Tom Miller Jr.
1939 – Harvey Penick Invitational
1942 – Harvey Penick Invitational
1946 – Men's City Championship
1947 – Men's City Championship
1955 – Harvey Penick Invitational
By Rececca Chadwell
Tom Miller, Jr. played golf for eight decades. Beginning in 1923 at the age of 6 and continuing beyond his 80thbirthday, he was known for his towering tee shots and powerful physique. Though he never played professional golf, his lengthy links experience is an impressive feat. Miller is on the left in this picture with Buck Luce, Denny Shute, and Harvey Penick.
By age 9, Miller was swinging adult clubs, and was on the golf course every Saturday and most Sundays with his father. Three years after graduating high school, Miller won the 1939 Harvey Penick Invitational Tournament. He also medaled in the Texas state junior golf tournament at Brackenridge Park in San Antonio that same year. In 1940, Miller was a quarterfinalist Texas amateur golf championship in San Angelo, where he lost to Joe Moore, Jr. Miller led Moore through the first nine holes, but Moore’s 40-foot putt gave him a lead that was almost lost before Miller ran out of holes. Though he did not capture the title, Miller won the driving range contest, as booming long shots were something of a specialty for him.
In life outside of golf, Miller worked as a dry cleaner delivery boy and as an office boy for the United Press wire service. By 1941, he was assigned to help cover the U.S. Open in Fort Worth, Texas, and was granted special permission (along with his fellow journalists) to play the course himself. The following year, the “mountainous” star won his second Penick Invitational in Austin.
Miller set the record for the best medalist score in the history of the Corpus Christi Invitational in 1946, shooting a 66 on the country club course. He finished second to, again, Joe Moore, Jr., but was crowned the Austin Men’s City Champion that same year at 29 years old.
Only 8 players have won the Men’s City Championship in consecutive years, and Miller joined that rank with his second victory in 1947. Other players to accomplish this are: W.R. “Shorty” Long (1932-33), Buck Luce (1936-37), Ray Kizer (1962-63), Ben Crenshaw (1967-68-69), Ed Brooks (1992-93), Brian Noonan (2006-07), and Collin Mayer (2008-09).
In 1948, Miller qualified for the National Amateur Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach in Del Monte, California. Also qualifying was Moore, who had become a frequent competitor.
Miller’s third and final Penick Invitational victory came in 1955.
Off of the golf course, Miller served as the second vice president of the Texas Golf Association, the governing body for amateur golf in the state.
In a rare privilege, Miller was on the White House guest list in 1965 for a state dinner honoring Pakistan president Mohammed Ayub Khan. He attended the high-toned event with prominent journalists from across Texas, all guests of native Texan President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Miller retired to links-strewn Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where he played regularly at the Sea Pines Golf Course. In 1992, he and a few friends from Sea Pines formed the Diamonds in the Rough tournament for golfers born before 1917.
With over 80 years of golfing experience, Tom Miller, Jr. certainly has had his fair share of experiences. He has played at numerous courses across the country and the world, including Cherry Hills in Denver, Torrey Pines in California, The Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, and Prestwick in Scotland. His prominence in local golf comes from his expansive range in years of tournament victories and participation, a respected achievement among the Austin golfing community.
Listen to the following comment about Tom Miller Jr, made by Walter Benson Jr., who twice won the City Championship as well as the Firecracker Open and the Harvey Penick Invitational. Click on this link 19. Tom Miller Jr.
AP. (1940, June 6). Texas amateur golf tournament opens. The Port Arthur News, p. 11. Retrieved from http://www.panews.com
AP. (1940, June 30). Kids go out and grab fancy honors. The San Antonio Light, p. 4. Retrieved from http://mysanantonio.com
AP. (1946, July 9). Moore wins tourney. The Amarillo Daily News, p. 4. Retrieved from http://www.amarillo.com
AP. (1947, August 27). Odessa linkster leads qualifying. The Amarillo Globe, p. 12. Retrieved from http://www.amarillo.com
AP. (1956, September 1). Thorpe shoots 71 in Austin tourney. Corpus Christi Times, p. 9. Retrieved from http://www.caller.com
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Kidd, J. (2003, May 11). The Love of his life. The Island Packet, p. B. Retrieved from http://www.islandpacket.com
Match play begins today in club golf. (1953, July 3). Corpus Christi Times, pp. 3-B. Retrieved from http://www.caller.com
Near-record 225 entered in senior golf tournament. (1955, October 10). The San Antonio Light, p. 18. Retrieved from http://www.mysanantonio.com
Smith, D. (2009, August 9). Mayer repeats as Austin city champ. Retrieved from http://www.amateurgolf.com/articleview.asp?id=3744
Tom Miller, Jr. 1939 medalist, enters junior golf tourney. (1940, August 22). The San Antonio Light, pp. 12-A. Retrieved from http://www.mysanantonio.com
White House Guest List. (1965, December 5). The San Antonio Express, p. 5. Retrieved from http://www.mysanantonio.com