Episode 7 - Jacksonville Beach

Secret Golf's Mike Maves, Calder Chism, Jimmy Nissen, and Terry Okura play historic Hyde Park Golf Course in Jacksonville, FL. We also get a visit from 102 year old golfer Max Greenberg.


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[MUSIC PLAYING] ANNOUNCER: On this episode of the "Rural Golfer," watch as the rural golfers themselves head south to join Mike Maves to explore the Northeast corner of the Sunshine State.

-Hey, fellas.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

-Welcome to Jacksonville. Good to see you. You're wondering why I brought you here?

NARRATOR: And discover that Jacksonville is a lot more than just the gateway to Florida.

MIKE MAVES: Donald Ross is designing knowing that hey there's only so much earth I can move. There's only so many trees I can play around. Because you didn't have the same kind of machinery to go and just shape something anywhere you want to.

NARRATOR: Plus we link up with a local legendary centenarian.

MIKE MAVES: For being 102, he has more energy than most of us put together.

THEME SONG: One, two, three, four! We got the Big Show revving riding around the map. Where we're going next w just can't say. So grab your clubs, let's hit some balls. We're making friends and playing golf. The Rural Golfers coming your way.

-I'm not going to be with you this week. I'm taking a small vacation. Don't tell anyone. My crew is going to be down in Jacksonville where they're going to show you some unreal, affordable golf and some characters are going to come out of it. And I now a thing or two about this area because I won a lot of money right there at the Players Championship twice and a couple of those fancy crystal squares.

NARRATOR: On a homemade summer day defining of the Sunshine State our foursome takes a step into Florida history, Hyde Park Golf Club.

-Hey, fellas.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

-Welcome to Jacksonville. Good to see you. You're wondering why I brought you here?

NARRATOR: These gentlemen had no idea just how their day was about to proceed.

-What's going on?

-What's going on is I'm reliving history here. In the 40's and 50's this was the stomping ground for Hogan, Snead, Nelson. When we get to hole six you guys are going to get a little Hogan lore.

-You must love this place as a history buff.

-That's the deal. Let's go do it.

NARRATOR: With the smell of rivalry in the air, our boys set off as refined men reeking of power and sweat, with some of the finest personalities to ever play this course in tow.

-All right, fellas. We haven't played this golf course, so it's going to be a bit of a mystery, I think. Best ball?

-You [INAUDIBLE]?

MIKE MAVES: Age before beauty, buddy.

NARRATOR: And so the wager begins.

-Called her.

-Wait.

-Posing.

-Perfect.

MIKE MAVES: We fell out of the plane and showed up and the first place we went there were great people. Old guys, young guys, and women just out very much enjoying their time on a very nice, inviting track. I don't want you guys getting discouraged. Just let the game come to you.

GOLFER 1: I love the game of golf. I just really try to get into the enjoyment of the moment.

-You actually thought about that!

-Failed outright.

-It's Hurricane Arthur ball.

-It's been so much fun. And of course we got to play a historic golf course. And adding that to the whole mix was just a ball.

-This is just for all the fans. He's giving it away. Come out.

GOLFER 1: I'm going to start playing nasty with him,

-It's OK. They're not setting the world on fire either.

-I told you it would all come to a screeching halt.

MIKE MAVES: On the first hole.

NARRATOR: Setting off on what was to be an unforgettable day, the foursome collected their clubs and remaining wits about them to find out more about this infamous destination.

-In 1925 this course was established. Billy Maxwell and Chris Blocker, both tour players, purchased the course. They've worked on the course and made it pretty nice. The tour played here in 1947 and then in 1950 through '53. So five years they played the tour events here. The purses for the tournaments were around $10,000. First place I think was around $2000 for first place. So the money's really changed over the years.

Because it's such an old course, the greens have never been fully redone, dugout. So you have layering in the greens, which will keep it from percolating the water through. So each green has its own character. You've got to take care of them differently. We still have the old 328 on the greens, which I don't think anybody has this side of the Mississippi.

Anybody is welcome here, public course. Men, women, children, we get them all here. Just having the notoriety that the tour was played here a lot of people like that so they want to come play the course. We get a lot of play. We open at 6:00 a.m. The first group tees off as soon as they can see the tree lines out there.

MIKE MAVES: We ready for greatness?

GOLFER 1: Let's see it.

GOLFER 2: I'm praying for it, buddy.

NARRATOR: After surrendering to the first hole, the round progressed with, well, more of an unanticipated display.

GOLFER 1: Jimmy Dodd.

-Just like that.

GOLFER 1: Thats Jimmy.

-Get in.

[GROUP CHEERING]

-Shakes off the rust.

-I think the jet lag card is all I'm going to play.

-Really? After only two holes?

-That's it.

NARRATOR: As the day progressed so did Calder's antics.

-Normally I've gone to the aiming fluid by now.

GOLFER 2: That is not going to do it, buddy.

-That is off the planet.

-How did it even go there?

GOLFER 1: That's really unfortunate there.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

TERRY OKURA: Nice.

MIKE MAVES: Calder, that was--

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

-Walk off.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

TERRY OKURA: He hit that one right in the middle.

-Walk off. Folks, please let the other players hit.

TERRY OKURA: You know what? You're still away buddy.

-Oh, is it still me? Oh, good, let's go get that third shot.

NARRATOR: On top of his game, Jimmy's display did little to deter his greatness.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JIMMY NISSEN: I checked out the map, you know, around Jacksonville, and I know just from my experience a lot of players live right, you know, within 10, 20 miles of here. And so knowing that the players live here, they play at these courses. The history of the game is-- it's absolutely amazing to be here. All right. Hoganesque.

NARRATOR: Running into trouble on the fifth hole, TO faced an almost identical shock their fearless leader Steve Elkington faced at the 1991 player's championship.

-And if I can hit it--

-No pressure.

- --anywhere near as good as him.

-And you have no pressure.

-I have something going on. That's good folks. In the pressure, three iron, to win a tournament, into the wind, that's good stuff. That was not good stuff.

[BALL DROPS INTO HOLE]

NARRATOR: He's been referred to as the man born with dirt in his veins. Donald James Ross set an early precedent for golf course design that's been matched by few. Between 1900 and 1948 Ross put his signature on more than 400 courses throughout the US, Scotland, Canada, and Cuba. A testament to his work-- over 100 USGA National Championships have been contested on Ross designs, including the 2014 men's and women's US Open Championships.

MIKE MAVES: Donald Ross is designing, knowing that, hey, there's only so much earth I can move, there's only so many trees I can play around with. Because you didn't have the same kind of machinery to go and just shape something anywhere you wanted. So nature was at play before you even started with your pencil.

NARRATOR: Among Ross' more well-known layouts are Seminal Golf Club and Oak Hill Country Club. Pinehurst No. 2, kept in its original glory and open to the public, probably the most famous of the Ross designs.

In addition to his world famous tracks, he crafted gems like the Hyde Park Golf Club, tucked away on the rural west side of Jacksonville, Florida. Built in 1925, Hyde Park Golf Club remains one of Florida's oldest and more treasured layouts. No memory of Hyde Park, however, resonates more than the time golf legend Ben Hogan succumbed to an 11 on the par 3 6th hole.

[BALL DROPS INTO HOLE]

MIKE MAVES: All right, fellas, so here we are on number six. It's 1947, Ben Hogan has the lead, it's a stormy day, so stormy they hardly had a gallery here. And he comes to this sixth hole.

-It's about 135 yards, and it had a deep pothole bunker on the right side. And on the left side was water.

MIKE MAVES: He hits a shot, and it goes in the water. Hogan climbs in and tries to hit the ball out of four inches of water and scrape it onto the green. So he hits it four times. And finally realizes he's not getting it up. So now he has to take a drop over here, this is where he decides to go. And he flubs his shot onto the green. So now he's got to decide what-- whether to take this shot again, which he, uh, just flubbed, or go back to the tee. Hogan goes all the way back to the tee. It's nine on, two putts, for 11.

[PUTT DROPS INTO HOLE]

-1:51. Oh, this is the sixth hole.

-All right, here we are fellas. This is the infamous sixth hole.

-So once we got to the par three, you know, it was just becoming sort of a bad joke how bad I was playing. So instead of just ball and pocket I just put my whole game in my pocket, and went and grabbed my pencil. Just thought I'd do a cartoon about what we were doing. It was just obvious that without the proper tools in my cup holder, ha, the game really wasn't there yesterday.

-Hogan made 11 on the hole, right? So we wanted to duplicate, duplicate, duplicate, duplicate? Duplicate. [LAUGHING]

-I think Terry came up with the idea to have us hit shots over the pond.

-Yeah, just relax. [LAUGHING]

-I thought it was a great idea because he said that we would each get to choose each other's lies. So I stepped on Jimmy's golf ball as hard as I could and that lie was kind of a hard lie, so I was able to get it halfway buried. that's fair. I said I'm not going to get this anywhere near the green, so I took, I closed in the club face and I just toed it in and just made a big swing, thinking that it would just airmail the entire green by 50 yards.

-Oh, no. Get it.

JIMMY NISSEN: It turns out, I caught it just right, my heart skipped a beat because I thought it was going in the water, and it ends up three feet from the pin.

TERRY OKURA: It was unbelievable ho-- how close he hit it out of that lie.

-Get the feel of that.

JIMMY NISSEN: And getting to see where Hogan hit his shot, and took an 11 on a hole, you know, it was cool to play that hole.

TERRY OKURA: It was Jimmy's day.

NARRATOR: Jacksonville Beach Golf Club designed by Sam Snead is a municipal course on the easternmost stretch of Northeast Florida, a minutes only walk from the ocean.

SANDY SUCKLING: Jacksonville Beach Golf Club is a actual little hidden gem out here. We are not right on the beach but close enough that you can almost hear the waves lapping in. You can definitely feel it in the wind. We get a lot of sea breeze here.

We started up in 1960, so it's been here for some 50 years. This used to be the training place for the Pittsburgh Pirates way back when. Also used to be a landfill. When the landfill was discontinued, they couldn't put any houses on it so, hence, they did something and built a golf course on it.

It's an 18-hole golf course, practice facilities, and actually one of the busiest golf courses in, in greater Jacksonville. It's about 64, 6,500 yards from the tips, and it's a pretty tough course. We have water on 15 out of 18 of the holes. It is a nice little track but it's definitely not a pushover.

These days we have not one, but actually two signature holes. One has been the same for quite a few years. It's a par three, number 14, about 135 yards from the red tees, about 195 from the blue tees, partial island green, very tough par three.

Then our second signature hole is number 16, which we rebuilt a few years ago. Raised the fairway up, and put a big lake in around the green, and a lot of people think it's a fun hole to play.

The city has just slowly but surely re-done most of the course. Anything from cart paths to putting in new lakes, you have to change out the greens every six or seven years. This is the quintessential everyday golfer's golf course. It's a municipal facility open to everybody. Anybody can come play, from a three-year-old child to a 102-year-old man. Anybody can come out here. Our whole deal is to get people out and play.

-We found ageless passion, maybe the oldest passion in the whole world in Jacksonville Beach at Jax Golf Club. Max is a 102 years old, and plays there twice a week, walking, with his own clubs.

-Max Greenberg has been out here for going on 40 years now. And his routine is Tuesday and Thursday morning, nine holes with his friends. He's not that interested in the sport. He wants to go out, he wants to talk to his friends, and he wants to play a little bit. He's also a very energetic character.

-Good one.

SANDY SUCKLING: For being 102, he has more energy than most of us put together.

-That's Ski's. Here it costs us a big $6, how can you go wrong? The people at the club are nice. It's just beautiful. I thank you. No, thank you. [INAUDIBLE] a back seat. [CHUCKLES] Picked that up when we moved here from New York. And, uh, I think it was one of the greatest things that I've done. Gives you exercise, you're out in the fresh air. What more can you ask?

[GOLF BALL HIT]

I should've played more, maybe I'd get better, [CHUCKLES] I don't know. All I can say, I hit it.

[LAUGHTER]

I'm thankful that things have gone the way they are, and that I look forward to it from day to day. I play at least twice a week.

BILL HERNANDEZ, SR.: Oh, man. Max is my hero. I envy him so much, and I'm so proud to be a friend of his.

-All right, Billy Boy.

BILL HERNANDEZ, SR.: When you're as old as he is, he doesn't hit it real long, but he hits it straight most of the time. And with that wedge he is deadly, to me. He-- you saw. He's always right up there by the hole with that-- with old-- it's a heavy wedge, it's a copper wedge, but he is good with that thing.

[BALL HIT]

-Rick happens to be the best player. He's good.

-We've been playing together about 25 years. Bill's I think, 86, and Ski's 80. And they've been playing with us, off and on for the last 20 years.

-Anything you do here is right.

BILL HERNANDEZ, SR.: I don't hit the ball where it's supposed to go. The people behind me oughta be careful. [CHUCKLES] But anyway, it's, uh, it's just fun, and I love it. I love being out here.

-You're walking. I think that's the greatest thing you can do. [CHUCKLES] I don't believe it's-- And thank god I can do it. I can walk. I can hit the ball, and-- I can't complain, really.

-We normally talk about how lucky we are just to be out here. And able to be able to play golf. Maybe we'll walk around and be healthy. We enjoy it. We enjoy each other's company.

-In the hole.

-Oh, well look where you got it from. You look forward to this here. And if you have the comradeship that they bring, it's beautiful. How can you go wrong with this? You can't. 102, I, I don't believe it. 102. Huh. Attaboy. I thank you. Nothing to it. [CHUCKLES]

-[INAUDIBLE]

-Play and recreation are leisure time activities. Both are motivated by pleasure and serve as diversions from the more pressing and serious occupation of daily life.

-So play was recognized back in those days as a necessary item to just living.

-Yep.

-There has to be some lightness to this. I've tried to teach people to play something. And when you don't see playing someone, they're almost ill. He needs to feel that he is playing. I mean, life's got to be more than just a drudge and job. It's got to have some play in it.

[SOUND OF METAL DOOR CLOSING]

[BALL DROPS INTO HOLE]

NARRATOR: En route to their next course, it seems our own rural golfers might have moseyed a little, well, off-course.

CALDER CHISM: Uh, guys?

MIKE MAVES: Calder, TO and Jimmy and I, we haven't played golf together.

TERRY OKURA: I've never been to Jacksonville. It's my first time here in Jacksonville.

JIMMY NISSEN: We flew across the country to come to Jacksonville.

-Oh, this has been just a crack-up, just-- yeah, from start to finish.

CALDER CHISM: It's great being around the guys, obviously. 'Cause it's so much fun, the energy that these guys have.

TERRY OKURA: We've always had the camaraderie but it's always been through phone lines and through the internet and all those different things. So when we actually get a chance to be together, it's a nice scene, you know

JIMMY NISSEN: When I get to hang out with guys that I only talk to on the phone, or Skype, or email, it's even more special because golf connects us. And that's the one thing we all have running through our veins.

-I play golf because I like to come, you know, come down here to Florida and see Hyde Park. That course was gorgeous, simple, nice layout, friendly. You know, I stunk, but that's OK.

JIMMY NISSEN: My appreciation for the game has gone up, my appreciation for all of these kind of courses has just gone through the roof.

-It's going to be corny, but I'm gonna say it. Just being there, honestly, was good enough.

[LAUGHTER]

TERRY OKURA: Just being there and enjoying the moment, enjoying the present moment was awesome for me. You can't duplicate that moment. [BALL DROPS INTO HOLE]

ANNOUNCER: On the next episode of The Rural Golfer, Elk saddles up, in Texas.

-I'm all healed up I'm feeling so good, that next week I'm going, yep, ready, roping. I'm keen to learn about all this today. I want to know everything. And I don't think I'm going be able to do any of it, but--

Ugh.

STEVE ELKINGTON: We've got more moves going on than a can of worms, right here.

ANNOUNCER: A couple of world championship ropers will show him the ropes.

-Him navigating the horse around the [INAUDIBLE] is pretty funny.

-Kick him, make him back--

-He's got reverse?

ANNOUNCER: And in his element, he'll take the bull by the horns, with some golf tips for them.

ROPERS: I relate it to [INAUDIBLE] I know how to make my rope do what I want. And when I play the golf, I have no idea of the mechanics.

STEVE ELKINGTON: There's an old saying in golf that you've never seen a guy play bad with a good grip.

ROPERS: Attaboy.

STEVE ELKINGTON: -That's pure.

[BIRDS SINGING]

[GOLF BALL HIT]

[SOUND OF BALL HITTING SIGN]