Episode 16 - Blaine McCallister

The Secret Golf's Steve Elkington visits his long time friend on tour Blaine McCallister in his hometown of Fort Stockton and discuss golf, his journey to get on tour, and dove hunting.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: On this episode of "The Rural Golfer"--

STEVE ELKINGTON: I thought he was joking when he was telling us he had a cannon that broke up ice.

NARRATOR: Elk learns how to use sound waves to break up hail stones in Fort Stockton, Texas.

-A sonic sound.

-A sonic signal.


NARRATOR: He tees it up in the 19th annual McCallister Invitational.

BARRY MCCALLISTER: Elk's coming in at 4 o'clock. You go pick him up.

-No. I don't want to pick him up.

NARRATOR: And it's up in the air when he hunts down some doves.

-I go shoot right over you.

THEME SONG: One, two, three, four. We got the big show revving, the eyes are on the map. Where we're going next we just can't say. Grab your clubs. Let's hit some balls. We're making friends and playing golf. "The Rural Golfer" is coming your way.

BARRY MCCALLISTER: Elk's coming in at 4 o'clock. I don't want to pick him up. You go pick him up.

-No, I don't want to pick him up.

-I don't want to pick him up either.

-Well, who's going to pick him up? He can walk.

-I agree with that.

-Or, I tell you what, let's play scissors, paper, rocks.

-See who goes. Let's go.

-All right, you ready?

-Mhm. See you on down the road, Jack.

NARRATOR: Fort Stockton, Texas. It's an interstate stop most drive by without, well, stopping. But for those who do, they're likely to find a quaint little town the McCallister's call home.

-Growing up, I think what was really a lot of fun about it was being the home-type community-- family, your friends, and our day was spent outdoors. I mean our day was started in the morning, went to school, and then you didn't come home till 10 o'clock at night.

NARRATOR: Despite being hundreds of miles away from city life, this West Texas town is more than just an oasis in the desert.

DUSTIN HERSCHAP: Fort Stockton is a pretty unique place in the middle of the desert. People at Fort Stockton, they're hard-working, honest people.

-Here you go, hot off the press.

DUSTIN HERSCHAP: We have ranching, cattle, goats, sheep. There's even some farming. We have cotton farming, pecans. We have an oil field, which has been a great boost to the economy of Fort Stockton.

NARRATOR: This small town where everybody pretty much knows everybody will never fall short when it comes to community support.

-You got to have good people. And we're kind of in the middle of nowhere. And we're on our own out here. You know? And it's good to have a good, close community.

NARRATOR: Small towns like this are a dying breed. But because the citizens of Fort Stockton take hospitality to heart, it puts the town in a class all of its own. For Elk, there's nothing like visiting old friends, the McCallister brothers. And doing so in a little town full of character and charm.

-Well, it's the best salad. How long has this tournament been going on?

-This is our 19th.

-This is your 19th event. And what is this tournament called.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: McCallister Invitational. We do a two-day bird hunt.


BLAINE MCCALLISTER: Wednesday and Thursday, and we always scheduled this event during the dove season. We want to bring them in here, have a big feast of food, and atmosphere, and the bird hunting.

-I go shoot right over you.

-Oh, yeah, he's not going to shoot right over, because he missed.

-I ain't going to shoot right over you. When they come over the shed, you may not notice it. But I'm quick as lightning. Get on them-- like a flash. If there is any expert shooters out there, maybe they can watch my form.


You see how fast I go on that? See? I was here. And then I was here. I was here. Then I was here. No need to see the evidence. We'll put that man in the rear bag back here-- rear bag.


NARRATOR: When you live in a desert climate like Fort Stockton, one of life's greatest challenges is getting water. But for men like Dustin Herschep, it's more than a way of life. It's how he makes a living.

DUSTIN HERSCHEP: To get water out of the ground in West Texas, first you got to have a water well. And then once you know where the water is at, then we can design a pump or a method to get it out. Some of these water wells are 40 feet. Some of them are 1,400 feet.

STEVE ELKINGTON: A lot of people don't know how valuable water is. And right now, people in this part of the world make more money putting water in a barrel than they do oil in a barrel. There is people making substantial livings living in Fort Stockton, Texas barreling water and sending it to people that need it.

NARRATOR: Windmills have been used to pump water from underground since the mid 1800s, but need cooperation from Mother Nature and are expensive to maintain. The new age is solar pumps. They have a one-time setup cost and pump successfully for four to five years, maintenance free.

DUSTIN HERSCHEP: The windmill will run 24 hours a day if the wind is blowing. On your solar, it only pumps during the daytime when you have sun shining. But you can put enough panels where in that period you can pump actually more water in the daytime than you would with a windmill 24 hours a day. We have some solar wells that pump up to 200 gallons a minute.

STEVE ELKINGTON: It's a very fertile place. I mean, when you come to Fort Stockton, you don't see anything above the ground. It's very flat. It's very uninviting looking. But underneath the ground, they've got it full of resources. They get oil. They got gas. They got water. And they got a passion for golf.


NARRATOR: Blaine McCallister is a son of West Texas.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: I just think small town communities, there's nothing like them. Now, are they tough? Yeah. It's tough for a kid, especially in today's world.

NARRATOR: In an area primarily known for cattle ranching and oil production, McCallister rose above humble beginnings and found another use for the same patch of dirt.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: I grew up with wonderful parents. They supported us in everything we did. And when I got started in golf, I really never even thought about golf. I played third base, and I pitched. I thought that's what I was going to do. Once I got the first taste of what it felt like to hit a golf ball, it was something I'd never experienced. I mean, it's something that got inside of me. And I said, I'm hooked.


I can remember the first time I actually told my parents I'd like to get a set of clubs. And my dad looked at me and said, now, that's a pretty big commitment. I said, dad, I'll pay you back. And I'll never forget that. I walked out of there and thought, man, I had made it.

NARRATOR: McCallister's golf resources weren't much. But they were what he needed.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: We grew up on a 9-hole golf course. When I say 9 holes, I'm talking no sand traps. We had two water traps. What I mean by water traps, it depends on whether there was water in them or not. I went working on the golf game harder than I've ever worked. And when I bought my first actual complete set of irons, it was bought off a paycheck from watering the golf course.

NARRATOR: After winning a state championship, McCallister received a golf scholarship from the University of Houston and then went on to the PGA Tour.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: The first four years were a struggle. My gosh, I starved. I mean, until you've gone through the struggles of being a professional and not knowing what you're going to do next or how you're going to do it, you don't really appreciate how much the good times mean. So in 1986, I finally had the moment where I could say that I belonged.

NARRATOR: McCallister captured five PGA Tour titles in 25 years on tour and is now a member of the Champions Tour.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: I never had bigger supporters. Whether it was a good round or bad round, they were there every step of the way.

STEVE ELKINGTON: I just love the Blaine McCallister story. He's a guy that-- he made it. He made it out of a very small town. We've proven again that you don't have to come from a big club and have lots of lessons to make it on the PGA Tour.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: Wow, I just think back to my mom and dad's face. There's nothing like that. You just-- you get to experience something that you dream about. And my dream came true.


BARRY MCCALLISTER: Everybody tee off from the blacks. 16 and over go from the blues. And 17 and over [INAUDIBLE] go from the gold.

-Every day, all day.

-The only time he leaves the fairway is to take a leak.

BARRY MCCALLISTER: We started 19 years ago. We were getting together, and Blaine wanted to have a golf tournament.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: It all came about one day. I was out here visiting, and here comes two busloads of kids from the junior high. I said, there's that many of them playing? He said, yeah, it's gone crazy. And I said, well, you know what we need to do? We need to do something that maybe helps or just something to give back into this community.

-I think our first tournament looked back and had like 76 teams or something just right off the bat. We would play a two-man low ball for two days. And it was a good success. We made some money. So we kept getting bigger and better. And I think after our fourth year, I started having to limit to 100 teams, because we just had so many people.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: I want it to be a local event. I want it to be local so that people, the local community, can be involved. And now, my brother is just taking it to another level.

STEVE ELKINGTON: We got guys from Calgary. We got guys from New York. We got all these men are coming here for one reason, they are coming here because of Blaine McCallister. And they love what he's doing here. And they love him. And I wanted people to see that.

-Right here.

-Yeah, this girl can go.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: As times got along in the school business, there was sports that have to be cut. And golf was going to be one of them. And my brother and I said, we're not going let this happen. So the money that comes from this event basically pays for the green fees for the kids for the whole year. We built their own private locker room for the girls and the boys. But basically, the money that comes for the program comes from our event.

STEVE ELKINGTON: I wanted people to know how important it is for a guy like Blaine McCallister, grew up on a nine-hole golf course, became a multiple winner on the PGA tour, and is now giving back to his town with the help of these great men that have come down here to support him for perpetuity.

-Hurry. Hurry. Stay up. Stay up.

BLAINE MCCALLISTER: I guess that's the main reason that we do it. And the money that it goes to is to help support maybe another Blaine McCallister. I don't know. I'd love to have that happen.

-Every year, you know, it seems like it gets better, and better, and better, and really, that's just my goal from year to year, just make it better. I hope everybody has a good time and has fun with it, support all the kids that we can do, and give a little something back. And I hope people remember stuff like that.


STEVE ELKINGTON: Beauty. Kelly And Harold, my Canadian friends, we've met before. We got to the golf course earlier today. We got to spend a little time. Kelly was having trouble hitting the ball too low. Stay there, just relax your wrist. Let me come down.

-Yeah, yeah.

-Look at the club face. They are square.

-Oh, just tuck it in.

-It would be delayed there.

-So you tuck your hand in a little bit.

-Whatever that is, yeah. Yeah, exactly.


-And then you would just go from there. So many golfers don't know where the power comes from. You are a rubber band.


Feel like a rubber band. There's swimming muscles. There's jogging muscles. There's weightlifting muscles. There's golf muscles. We're trying to teach your golf muscles to come alive.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Oh, mate, that's a high ball. What club is that? Eight?


STEVE ELKINGTON: Tha't s high for you. I know it's high for you.

-It is, yeah.

STEVE ELKINGTON: We introduced him to the real golfer. And Kelly got invited to that today, and he is now hitting the ball better than he ever has. You've been a low hitter.

-Like quail high for all my life. So Steve, give me a grip change first.

-You got to get the palm going where we're going.

-I think this is better.

-Then "The Rural Golfer" is very much well aware of the rubber band drill.

-Right, so I'm trying to build resistance in my lower body, winding around it, and then just letting it go against that resistance, throwing the club at the ball.



HAROLD: He's never hit it like that.

STEVE ELKINGTON: He's have never hit that?


STEVE ELKINGTON: How long have you been playing with him?

KELLY: 25 years.

HAROLD: 25 years.

-And what? I fixed him in what? 15 minutes, with one simple--


-Simple deal.

-And he's hard to deal with, because he's not that smart.

-Yeah, well, he's Canadian too. I taught him where the power was and how to tap into the power, how to hit the ball further, how to hit the ball higher. So he was very excited, and I was happy for that.

KELLY: That was awesome.

STEVE ELKINGTON: That was easy, huh?

KELLY: That was so much fun.

HAROLD: Hey, I'll tell you what, you know how many guys wish they could have just had this half an hour?

GIRLS: Elks Vintage Vault.

-We've found our ball on a downslope. We're going to be able to negotiate this with a few rules. We don't want to push against the slope. That's number one. We want to push down the slope. The weight will be on the front foot, the ball back so we can hit down on it. And we're going to use a cut swing. Hold off the cut swing so we can get it in the air a little bit. Take more club, aim to the left so you can play a little bit of slice off there-- down and across.


Isn't that great?


NARRATOR: Belding Farms, the second largest pecan orchard in the state. This 6,500-acre compound produces primarily Western Schley and Wichita pecans. And its success lies in the science of farming.

GLENN HONAKER: This orchard has been under intensive management since it was planted. Most of these trees were planted from about 1969 to 1971. So we have a mature orchard. A pecan tree is a very efficient sun harvester. And it competes with its neighbor where the neighbor is a weed, or Johnsongrass, or the next pecan tree for the sunlight. So it's goal is to shade that other one out and get all the sunlight it can.

So they started working with programs to control the size of the tree and keep it a more compact tree. They came up with the hedging program whereby we can trim these trees back with a machine each year, controlling the size of the trees and keeping it a manageable size for cultural practices and also developing a corridor for sunlight.

We try to have a third of the space between the trees open for sunlight, as you can see the sun going down, shining down the road behind us. And we try to top them at a height that is equal to the distance between the tree rows. My goal is to produce between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds to the acre. So we produce off this orchard each year about 5 million pounds of pecans.

-Mm-mm, pecans.



-Tell you about the cannons. To begin with, we have some of our major climatic perils out here. We can have pretty severe hail storms that will completely take a crop out. So we started investigating a method to mitigate the hail.

-You have one of the most unusual things that no one the world has ever hear of, mate. You've got a piece of machinery here that you shoot up into the clouds to break up hail?

-To break up the hail. The cannon is a machine that consists of an energy source. The other part is kind of like an upside down rocket. But the bottom part looks like a pot-bellied stove. And then we ignite it. It explodes.


And as that thing travels through the air, it causes vibration. When it encounters those hailstones, it causes them to vibrate, and it will cause them to cavitate. And they will get air pockets in the hail instead of freezing as solid ice. And then it falls as a mush.

-I thought you were joking. I thought it was a big joke. But that's serious.

-That's serious. That's serious.

-We had a cannon, which I thought was a spiritual thing, that they shot a cannon in the air, and they hoped for the best. But I learned today that that cannon was indeed a soundwave and a very impressive soundwave. And it actually works. Thank you very much.

-Steve, thank you. Thank you for visiting.

-People who see that will be amazed by that. It's unbelievable.


I think the important thing that we've learned here at "The Rural Golfer" was Blaine McCallister has taken a little tiny town called Fort Stockton that has attracted 200 golfers.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Hey, Blaine, what's the format? Scramble?


STEVE ELKINGTON: We've got guys from Calgary. We've got guys from New York . We've got all these men are coming here for one reason. They are not coming to Fort Stockton because it's like paradise. They are coming here because of Blaine McCallister. And they love what he's doing here. And they love him. We got to see where Blaine made it from.

And he doesn't have the greatest place to develop his game from. He doesn't have a big country club, and lessons, and fine range, et cetera. But he made it.


And we have a dove hunt. They put on the food. We have a little rain, which is accepted down here in this part of the country, because they don't get very much of it.


We saw a cannon. They broke up the rain. And it was invented by a New Zealander, which is even more remarkable, because that to me is just [EXPLOSION] cutting edge.


NARRATOR: On the next episode of "The Rural Golfer," Elk head into the Heart of Dixie to see why 10 million visitors have graced an infamous trail.

-They literally come from all 50 states to have an experience that they go home and say, hey I want to go again. That's a good accomplishment. Life down here in the South is easy living.

NARRATOR: And takes a drive down memory lane with Jason Dufner.

-We're at at Jason Dufner Street, Lane, Circle. What is it?

-Uh, Drive.

-Drive? Getting to spend a little time with Jason Dufner was great for me. Could you tell back then that Jason had all that sex appeal that he has now on the tour?

-I would say it was supressed. When you see him rolling up in an '87 Toyota Corolla.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Jason's kind of got an old-school feel about him. He dresses that way. And he swings a club that way. And he even waggles that way.

JASON DUFNER:The waggle has just always been there. For me, it was comfortable, because I played a lot of baseball growing up. So I'd be waiting for the pitcher.

-Can I get you guys another round?

-Yeah, sure.