By Tyler Conlin and Mike Allen
Randy Petri's Golf Resume
- 1956 At age 15, Shot 65 at Muny to win qualifying medalist for Austin Junior Golf Tournament
- 1956 At age 15, Shot 63 at Hancock Park to tie course record
- 1957 Won the Hancock Invitational
- 1957 Won the Bluebonnet Relays Tournament in Brownwood Texas
- 1957 UIL Boys State Individual Golf Champion
- 1957 Shot 20 at Butler Pitch and Putt to set course record
- 1958 Won the Lampasas Invitational
- 1958 Shoots seven under par to tie for Brownwood Invitational, loses playoff to Jim Hiskey of U of Houston Team
- 1958 Shoots 17 under over 54 holes to win Hancock Junior Billy Clagett wins 12 and under division
- 1958 Shot 60 at Hancock Park to set new course record
- 1958 Qualifies for the National Public Links Championship in Chicago, makes match play, loses 1st match
- 1958 Won Harvey Penick Invitational
- 1958 Runner-up in UIL Boys State Individual Championship
- 1958 Named Top Golfer in Austin by panel of local golf professionals and sports writers
- 1957-59 Team Member on three straight State 4-A State Golf Championships at Stephen F. Austin High
- 1959 Shot 61 at Muny to establish new course record
- 1959 UIL Boys State Individual Golf Champion
- 1959, 62, 65 Firecracker Open Champion
- 1963 Member of University of Houston NCAA Championship Runner-up Team
- 1964 and 65 Member of University of Houston team that won NCAA Championships
- 1965 Winner of William H. Tucker Tournament
- 1965 1stTeam All-American
- 1965 WinsTexas State Amateur Championship
- 1965 Labor Day Turns Professional at the Texas State Open, Sharpstown TX.
- 1965 Attended PGA Tour Qualifying School and obtained his PGA tour playing card
- 1966-69 played on the PGA tour
- 1970-82 Golf Professional at Balcones Country Club
- 1982 – Shot 61 at San Antonio Country Club to set Course Record
- 1982 – Shot 60 at Great Hills to establish course record
- 1982-85 Head Professional at Live Oak C.C. in Lakeway
- 1986-90 Started the Meadows Driving Range in Pflugerville
- 1991-92 Helped build Blackhawk Golf Course in Pflugerville
- 1993 Joined the Ninfa Golf Tour in Houston and San Antonio
- 1993 Won the 7Up Texas Senior Open
- 1993 Texaoma Senior Title
- 1994 Played the Champions Tour
- 1995-98 Played the Senior Series Tour finished 2nd 10 times
- 1998-2003 Played the Hartland Tour
- 1998 Contestant U.S. Senior Open at Rivera
- 1998 Won Senior Division of Northern Texas PGA at Hyatt Bear Creek Golf Club
- 1999 Won the Cross Timbers Title on the Southern Senior Tour
- Member of the Texas Cup Matches, tied Byron Nelson in Singles match
Learning the Game
Randy Petri was born in 1941 into a family of Austin golfers. His parents, Ed and Evelyn, lived close to Lions Municipal Golf Course and were both avid players. Randy and his younger brother Cary, shown here with Randy looking at Cary's grip, flourished in a golfing environment that included encouraging parents, good role models in the local amateur golfing scene, access to a golf course, and lots of friends their age that loved to compete. And, as can be seen from his list of accomplishments, Randy became the dominant junior player in Austin.
Petri's start in golf was somewhat accidental in the sense that he was originally a baseball player and loved playing that game. At the little league level, he was a star. He was a good hitter and a better pitcher because he had mastered the curve ball. However, when he moved into the pony league ranks and the pitching mound was farther from home plage, he found that players like the Covert brothers could hit his curve ball over the fence and his fast ball was not fast enough to overcome batters. So, he decided to start playing golf at age 13.
When asked about how he learned the game, Petri said " I just just picked up a club and started playing. Dad and Mom helped a little but I really had no idea how to play. I watched the better players of my day and tried to copy their swings, talked to other players here and there and learned by just practicing and playing. There was a lot of trial and error involved but I always had great eye to hand coordination."
One person that Petri credited with really helping his development as a golfer was Carl Gustafson, the assistant professional at Hancock Park Golf Course. Gustafson would help Petri with suggestons that he try various things in his swing. These suggestions helped. It was the kind of thing that Gustafson, who was known as "the little Sweed", was doing for all the kids. He was just trying to help players get better. Petri indicated that he had taken one lesson from Harvey Penick that resulted in the following advice to Randy's father from Mr. Penick. "Just let him keep playing".
Evidently Randy learned quickly and by the time he was fifteen, his scores came to the the attention of all who played golf locally. When he began recording scores in the mid to low 60's at Muny and Hancock Park, people began to realize they were seeing something special. By the time Petri got to high school, he was one of the best players in town. Fortunately he was being pushed by his close friends Gib and Ray Kizer, Royce Roberts, Robert Dorsett and other junior players that were almost as good as Petri. He had to play his best to win and that encouraged his development.
Making Austin Proud
Stephen F. Austin's high school golf team began making a historic run began in 1957. Along with teammates Gib Kizer, Robert Dorsett, and Tommy Wilson, Randy Petri would contribute to the team winning their first State Championship Golf Title. This was a feat worth mentioning because not only did it begin an amazing run, but it was also the first state title for any sport won by a team from Austin. Petri won his first individual UIL state championship that year while the Maroons captured the team title. Shown here are Robert Dorsett, Gib Kizer, Tommy Wilson and Randy Petri, who together won the state championship golfing title. Note: Click on any of the photos in this story to enlarge the photo, then use the back arrow to return to the story.
The golf team would build on their 1957 State Championship by defending their title in 1958. The team was led by none other than Randy Petri who shot the 2nd best tournament score of 148 and finished second in the individual race. His teammate and future Austin Men’s City Champion, Gib Kizer, was close behind with a 149. The Austin squad would go on to win the tournament by three strokes, with Borger High taking 2nd. 1958 would also be the year that Petri would take home his first title in one of Austin’s three major amateur tournaments. Petri won the Harvey Penick Invitational that year, and would ride that momentum in to the following year.
Winning back-to-back state titles wasn’t enough for the Austin High golfers, as they would make it three in a row in 1959, lead again by Petri, who captured his second individual state title that year.
During their three year run atop high school golf, Petri continued to get better and better on the golf course. His progress helped him win to his first of eventual three victories in the 4th of July Firecracker Open in 1959. His individual skills notched him as one of the top golfers in the state and catapulted him into the sights of Texas’ premier golfing university, the University of Houston.
Austin's Top Golfer in 1958
1958 proved to be a banner year for Petri. At age 17, after a series of wins at various levels of competition, he was named the Austin Golfer of the Year. The top ten players for 1958, ranked in order, included George McCall (2nd), Sonny Rhodes (3rd) George Seaholm (4th) Jimmy Connolly (5) Walter Benson (6th) Ken Mossberg (7th) Billy Penn (8th) Gib Kizer and Robert Duren tied for 9th and 10th. This list reads like a who's who list of Austin Golfers in that time period and their names are on the trophies of the Firecracker, Men's City Championship, and the Harvey Penick.
In those days, the selection for Austin's top golfer was made by a panel of local golf professionals and sports writers. In 1958 that included Felix George, Head Professional at Hancock Golf Course, W. Crumley, Assistant Professional at Hancock Golf Course, Harvey Penick – Head Professional at Austin Country Club, Tom Penick-Head Pro at Lions Municipal, Phillip George – Assistant Professional at Lions Municipal and and Charley Eskew of the Austin American Statesman.
During his 1958 run, The Austin High School Maroons won the state champion ship for the second time and Petri finished second in the individual race. During the summer of that year, Petri won the Lampasas Invitational, which was one of the many tournaments held throughout central Texas during that period. These tournaments were known as the Bar-B-Que circuit because of the food served at those events normally included bar-b-que. Regardless of what food was served, these tournaments attracted the better players from surrounding cities including high school players, college players and mid-amateurs from the region. It was a competitive environment, which stimulated Petri. He bested them all in Lampasas.
Also that summer, Petri competed in the Brownwood Invitational and shot seven under to tie for the title after regulation play. He was defeated in a playoff by a University of Houston player named Jim Hiskey.
Next up was a 17 under par performance over 54 holes at Hancock Park Golf Course in Austin to capture the Hancock Junior Tournament, which was one of the larger junior tournaments in Austin. Keep in mind, at that time, there were really only two public golf courses in Austin. Lions Municipal and Hancock Park. Hancock Park was the site of the original Austin Country Club and local tournaments at Hancock were prestigious events.
Petri then won the qualifying tournament for the National Public Links and along with Dudley Kruger, went to Chicago where he competed in the national tournament. It was the first time he had ventured outside of Texas. He qualified for match play but lost his first match in the match play portion of the tournament.
He capped his summer with a win at the Austin Country Club Labor Day Tournament, which is now know as the Harvey Penick Invitational. It included proficient mid-amateurs from across Texas and was as difficult to win then as it is now. It was a tremendous year of golf for Petri.
Following high school, Petri went into the army for three years. During that time he won his second Firecracker Open in 1962. Upon exiting the army, he returned to Austin and in 1963 he joined the University of Houston golf team where for three years. At that time, the University of Houston was the dominant college golf team in America, winning the NCAA Team Championship eight out of ten years at their peak.
Petri would make a name for himself at UH, as he contributed to the largest victory in the history of the Border Olympics tournament. The Houston team would defeat the 2nd place Texas Longhorns by a whopping 57-stroke margin in that tournament. That tournament would be a sign of things to come for the Cougar squad, as they would go on to dominate in the 1964 NCAA Championship as well, making up for their runners-up finish the year prior. The Cougars would finish the year having won 1st place in every tournament they entered.
One would think that winning the National Championship and going undefeated would be hard to follow, but 1965 would prove to be the most successful year in Petri’s golfing career and just as successful for the Cougars. The year started off strong for Randy as he would win the William H. Tucker Tournament held at the University of New Mexico Golf Club. He shot a spectacular 275 to win the event, with the next closest competitor being his UH teammate, Jim Grant, with a 286.
In team play, the Cougar squad would win the El Dorado Tournament with Petri shooting the lowest score for his team. He would be the low shooter again at the Border Olympics as well as the Les Bolstad Tournament, with UH winning those events as well. When all was said and done, the University of Houston was again undefeated and NCAA Champions. Petri earned himself 1st Team All-American honors after being the team’s top player throughout year, and in the All-America Intercollegiate Golf Tournament would shoot a 2-under-par 70 to earn medalist honors.
Petri carried his hot streak into the 1965 Texas Amateur Championship that summer. With his success on the national scene, this event must have seemed like cake, as he breezed through the competition. In the first year that the event implemented stroke play, Petri would shoot a 4-under-par 68 in the closing round to win the event by 3 strokes. He held off a valiant comeback attempt by Jon Farquhar of Amarillo, who shot four birdies on the back nine. Farquhar let the pressure get to him, however, as he ended with bogies on the last 3 holes. Randy kept his cool and finished with a course record 287. Randy would finish his amazing year with the last of his three Firecracker Open victories, putting him in a tie for 2nd most wins in that event.
After obtaining his PGA Tour playing card at the Q-School in late 1965, Petri began his professional playing career and managed to stay on the PGA tour for three years. When his first son was born, the combination of travel, not being at home and the difficulty of play on the PGA tour led Petri to take a job as the Head Golf Professional at Balcones Country Club, where he would stay for twelve years.
Then he became the head professional at the Live Oak Course in Lakeway, where he remained for three years. During these years, he remained competitive in the local and regional PGA events for club professionals and set the course records at San Antonio Country Club and Great Hills Country Club, shooting 61 and 60 respectively.
In 1986, he founded "The Meadows" driving range located at what is now Blackhawk Golf Course. He ran that driving range for four years and then helped to build Blackhawk Golf Course.
In 1993 he played the Ninfa mini-tour in Texas and in 1994 qualified to play on the Champions Tour, where he played for one year. He finished his playing career on the Texas Senior Series Tour and the Hartland Tour and the qualified for and played in the 1998 U.S. Senior Open at Rivera.
In looking at his body of play, one could make the case that Petri may have accumulated the best junior record in Austin golfing history, although he never won the state junior title. Along, with Kite, Crenshaw and Lester Lundell, he certainly has his place in Austin golf history as one of the best juniors to come out of Austin. In looking at his golfing longevity and his overall contribution to Austin golf history as a junior, collegiate, mid-amateur and professional player, one can only say this was one hell of a player.
Shown in this photo taken in December of 2012 at Lions Municipal Golf Course are (left to right) Lester Lundell, Randi Petri, Ben Crenshaw. Petri and Crenshaw shared the course record at Lions (score of 61) for many years before it was finally broken. Lundell and Crenshaw were the only Austin Golfers to have won the State Junior Championship. Petri is now 72, Lundell is in his mid sixties and Crenshaw is in his early 60's. They represent a chain of Austin's best golfers and they remain friends today.
Petri still plays regularly, loves to compete and can still break par on a regular basis. If you ever get the chance to talk to him or play a round of golf with him, you owe it to yourself to take that opportunity. He has a world of knowledge about the game of golf and is willing to share.
- AP. "Houston Wins Border Crown by 57 Strokes." Dallas Morning News 8 Mar. 1964: Print.
- AP. "Maroons Win Golf in AAAA." Dallas Morning News 10 May 1959: Print.
- AP. "Petri's Closing 68 Captures State Amateur Golf Crown." Dallas Morning News 7 June 1965: Print.
- AP. "Randy Petri Could Become Youngest Winner." Ocala Star Banner 8 July 1958: Print.
- AP. "SFA Takes State Prep Golf Crown." Dallas Morning News 4 May 1958: Print.
- AP. "UH's Petri Earns Medal." Dallas Morning News 1 Apr. 1965: Print.
- "Photos from the 60th Anniversary Firecracker Golf Tournament Champions Reunion." BigDriver.com. 2006. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <http://www.bigdriver.com/lions/firecracker-champs-reunion.html>.
- "Randy Petri." PGA Southern Texas Section. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <http://stpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/stpga10/profile/rpetri/tresults.htm>.
- "UH 2011-12 Houston Golf." University of Houston, Web. 30 July 2012. <http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/hou/sports/m-golf/auto_pdf/2011-12/misc_non_event/12-golf-mg-sec-6.pdf>.
- "UIL Boys Golf State Champions." The University Interscholastic League. UIL, Web. 30 July 2012. <http://uil100.org/archives/athletics/golf-boys.php>.
- UPI. "Youth Wins Junior Golf with 279." Dallas Morning News 15 Aug. 1959: Print.