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18 Holes With A Legend – Coach Bobby Bowden

The career accomplishments of Wuerffel Trophy National Selection Committee Member, Robert Cleckler “Bobby” Bowden, are downright astonishing. Or to use his words, pretty “Dad Gum” incredible:

  • All time winningest FBS (Div 1) coach with a record of 377-129-4.
  • 2 National Championships
  • 12 ACC Championships
  • From 1987-2000, a minimum of 10 wins each year and finished in top 5 each season

But, even with all of that, you really aren’t allowed to be in awe of him when you are with him. He’s just too nice of a guy. Humble is an understatement.

Follow through on the 6th hole at Killearn CC.

But, even with all of that, you really aren’t allowed to be in awe of him when you are with him. He’s just too nice of a guy. Humble is an understatement.

And he loves to play golf. When we played (on a Wednesday) he’d already played each of the 2 days before.

And he will turn 88 years old this November. Incredible.

We met at his home course, Killearn Country Club, the former home of the Tallahassee Open, where he has lived on the 7 fairway since 1976.

He’s easy to find. “We’ve always been listed in the phone book and still are,” he said. With only one losing season (his first), fans don’t call him to complain. They call him for autographs.

But the man loves to play. He took up the game in 1956 when he was coaching at South Georgia State College.

Coach Bowden's cart bag, courtesy of Callaway Golf

“I was lifeguarding at the pool back then to make extra money and the golf course surrounded the pool. I saw all these guys playing and so I gave it a try,” he remembered. “Never did take a lesson. I wish I had. But, I guess you can tell that. ”

He hits it as straight as a string, he only missed one fairway all day.

“I really love these Callaway clubs. They’re so easy to hit, and anything that’ll give me dad gum distance, I just love,” he added.

And his short game is deadly, although he’s always looking to improve.

“I need to get down to the store (Edwin Watts Golf) and have them put one of those big grips (Super Stroke) on my putter. Everyone’s using them so they gotta help,” Coach said.

And it appears he’s got a new favorite golf ball, the Srixon Q-Star Tour. He put some samples in play on Wednesday when we played.

“Man, these new Srixons are great golf balls!”

The author and Coach Bowden getting ready to tee it up at Killearn CC

His greatest golfing memories? “Well, I played with Arnold Palmer in Birmingham at the Senior Tournament’s Pro-Am. Man, I’ll never forget that,” he recalled.

Did you ever get to play Augusta National?  “Yeah, played it 3 or 4 times back when I was coaching? Beautiful place,” he remembered.

“3 or 4 times? It’s one or the other,” I asked.

“Hah! That’s a good one, boy,” he quipped.

We got to our final hole in just over 3 hours.

Coach played the 18th in typical fashion. Driver down the pipe, three wood, chip to about 20 feet and then drained the putt for a par.

“Boy, that was fun. Let’s do it again sometime soon.”

Sure. Anytime, Coach. Any “Dad Gum” time!