The 1963 Oklahoma City Open
John
Garvey
1963

In 1963 the Oklahoma City Open was played at Quail Creek Golf & Country Club. My Mom was a volunteer, and was selected to work the tournament as a walking scorer. She told me that if I would come with her to the club, she could get me a job during the tournament. So, on the first day I did what my Mom told me to do, I walked over to the Leaderboard behind the 10th tee and asked if I could work at the tournament. A man asked me if I knew the golf course.  Being that I played golf with my Dad every chance I got, I knew the course like a veteran - even though I was only 8 years old. I answered "YES!"  So, I was told to sit next to the Leaderboard and wait to be called. Finally, a man told me to run out to the 16th green and get the scores of the threesome coming off 16.  This was it - I had been "hired" to be a "Runner" at the Oklahoma City Open. I ran down the cart path to 16 green.  Once there I found the threesome was Arnold Palmer, Tony Lema and Johnny Pot.  I was told to whisper to the walking scorer "what did they shoot?"  The lady whispered to me, "Arnie par, Lema par, Pot par."  Just before I left the elevated 16th green I looked over at Mr. Palmer, he was starting to walk toward the 17th tee. I was right next to the roped off path for the golfers to use to get to the tee. I was staring at Mr. Palmer and he made eye contact with the little 8 year old boy kneeling at the edge of the rope path. Just as I started to stand up I sort of half stumbled forward, and I was going to be right in the middle of the path. All of the sudden, instead of falling on my face, there was Mr. Palmer's black gloved hand grabbing me by my forearm - catching me from my fall - and his other hand was now on my back, making sure I was steady on my feet. "Gotcha!" Mr. Palmer said. I looked at Arnie right in the eyes and could not speak. I just smiled. That's when Arnie winked at me, and letting my arm go, he walked on down the path to the 17th tee.  

I had to get the scores back to the leaderboard. As I started to run back to the clubhouse, I realized I forgot one of the golfer's names. So, I looked at the golf bags the caddies were holding. Arnold Palmer, Tony Lema and Walter Hagen the bags read. So, I had my three names!  When I ran back to the leaderboard, I was out of breath. The man in charge of the leaderboard asked me, "Did you get your scores?" I answered, "Yes, Palmer 3, Lema 3, Hagen 3."  The man repeated "Hagen?"  I said, "Yes, Walter Hagen -3."  Now all of the men were laughing. The man told me "Walter Hagen is the name of the golf club, Mr. Hagen has been dead for 20 years!"  Well I learned something that day.  Arnold Palmer had his name on his bag, and an umbrella with Red, White, Yellow and Green panels. You cannot miss Arnie's golf bag! What a day!  Thanks Arnie. I will never forget you.  Arnold Palmer won the Oklahoma City Open twice.