Gib Kizer was a team member of the Austin High School teams that won the state championship in 1957, 1958, an 1959. At age 18 he won Austin Men’s City Championship and the State Public Links Championship. In route to winning the City Championship he won matches against Billy Penn, Roane Puett, George Seaholm and then defeated his brother Ray Kizer in the finals.
He worked in the golf business as a club professional at numerous clubs and played professionally on the PGA winter tour before going into the car business in Austin. He currently resides in Burnet, Texas, plays and teaches at Delaware Springs Golf Club. Kizer (2nd from left) is shown with Austin High School State Championship teammates Robert Dorsett, Tommy Wilson and Randy Petri.
Gib Kizer's Career as a Club Professional
1961 Assistant Professional – Riveria Country Club – Coral Gables, Florida
1962 Assistant Professional – Timberlane Country Club – New Orleans, Lousiana
1964 Head Professional – Waupaca Country Club – Waupaca, Wisconsin
1967 Head Professional – Bulls Eye Country Club – Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.
1974 Head Professional – Rolling Meadows Golf Course – Wisconsin
1975 Head Professional – Great Hills Country Club – Austin, Texas
1976 Head Professional – Pema County Golf Course – Arizona
How he started in golf
Gib Kizer literally lived at Lions Municipal Golf Course for the first portion of his life. This was because his father, Roy Kizer, was the greens keeper at Lions for 38 years and their home was on the premesis. So, young Gib began the game at Lions at the age of five because that was what he and his brothers had available for entertainment. At the age of eight, he and his dad played a round of golf with Harvey Penick at the Austin Country Club because Roy Kizer and Harvey Penick were friends and occasionally played golf together. At that time, Austin Country Club was located at what is now known as Hancock Golf Course. At the conclusion of that round Mr. Penick advised him to change his grip from a baseball grip to the standard Vardon overlapping grip. That was the beginning of a lifelong relationship between Mr. Penick and Giz Kizer. Listen to Gib Kizer recall that experience in this audio clip.
Association with Harvey Penick
After his initial meeting with Mr. Penick, Gib Kizer continued to associate with Harvey Penick for 44 years. Penick became his golf instructor, professional mentor and confidant. Kizer has stated that in addition to the golf instruction he received from Mr. Penick, the discussions they had were enlightning and lasting because Mr. Penick's was caring and imparted wisdom beyond the golf swing.
The golf lessons that Mr. Penick instilled were based on the fundamentals of the golf swing. Mr. Penick stressed the address position. In this interview, Gib relates what Mr. Penick told him about the importance of grip, alignment and stance, flex of the knees, hand position and the upper body position at address.
High School Golf
At Austin High School, Kizer along with Randy Petri, Tommy Wilson and Robert Dorsett and others won the high school state championship in 1957,1958, and 1959. Both Kizer and Petri went on to a career in golf.
College Golf vs A Career in Golf
After high school, Kizer attended the University of Texas on a golf scholarship and played one year under coach Harvey Penick. At that point he decided that he wanted to be golf professional rather than go to school and he reasoned that he should get started immediately rather than wait until he graduated from college. Mr. Penick approved of his decision and was instrumental in helping Gib Kizer begin his journey. Buck Luce, who had played for Mr. Penick at the University of Texas, had gone into the golf business and was the head professional at Riveria Country Club in Coral Gables, Florida. Kizer went to work for Luce. Listen to why he decided to pursue golf instead of school and a conversation about his early years in the golf business.
After working at Riveria Country Club as an assistant professional, 1962 Kizer went to work for Mike Barbato, as an Assistant Professional at Timberlane Country Club in New Orleans. Barbato was the Head Professional at Timberlane and the golf coach at LSU for 25 years. Barbato coached the Hebert brothers and other outstanding players at LSU.
While working for Barbato in New Orleans, a professional named Lee Milligan from San Antonio came through New Orleans and, while trying to qualify for the New Orleans Open, spoke with Kizer about becoming an assistant at Nakoma Country Club in Madison Wisconsin. Kizer took the job and worked as an assistant professional for a year before moving to the head professional’s job at Waupaca Country Club in Waupaca, Wisconsin. This began an extended period of jobs in Wisconson. Listen to his humorous story of the lifestyles of people in Wisconsin and how he gained 59 pounds in one seven month period as a result.
In 1964, he moved to Waupaca Country Club in Wisconsin and then on to Bulls Eye Country Club in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin in 1967. He then transitioned to Rolling Meadows Country Club in 1974.
In 1975, Great Hills Country Club opened and Kizer decided to return to Austin. Unfortunately the economy tanked and the Great Hills development failed to reach it's potential although it did proper when the economy recovered. In the meantime, Kizer decided to go to Pema County Golf Course in Arizona.
While at Pema County Golf Course, Kizer and other golf professionals experienced the rise of discount golf sellers and therefore the demise of golf club and related merchandise sales at golf courses. This altered the way people bought golf clubs and the jobs of club professionals. As a result, Kizer left Arizona and returned to Austin to work for the Covert family in the car business. Listen to his description of those events and his exit from the golf business.
Winter Tours 65-68
Golf courses in the north opened in April and closed November 1st. Because of the seasonal nature of the golf business in Wisconsin, Kizer played golf on what were called the “Winter Tours”, which were a series of regular PGA tour events near the end of the regular season. Along the way he played with some of the great players of that time.
Cajan Classic 1965 – Monday qualified, made the cut and made some money. He played with Lee Trevino, Randi Petri, Marty Fleckman and many others. This was the last tournament of the year and it was won by Marty Fleckman. Over this three year period Kizer said he realized that he could not beat Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus and decided to continue his career as a club professional. Along the way, he had some interesting experiences. One one occasion he played with Lee Trevino as Trevino was switching from a hook to a fade in 1966. Later that year Trevino won the Houston Open and the next year won 1967 U.S. Open. And, as Kizer relates in this audio clip, the rest of the Trevino story is history.
Kizer on Crenshaw
Gib Kizer relates the story of playing a round with Ray Kizer, Dale Roper, and Ben Crenshaw at Lions Municipal Golf Course. Kizer had known Crenshaw since he was seven years old and was hitting a cut off seven iron. Listen to this story by Gib Kizer on how Ben Crenshaw bested both of the Kizer boys, who at the time had both won the City Championship.
Kizer on Dudley Kruger
Listen to Gib Kizer's version of the story of playing a round of golf with Dudley Krueger, Billy Munn, and Terry Kahn