PORT ARTHUR —
Erwin J. Auffurth — better known as Bud — will probably celebrate his 90th birthday Friday with a round of golf Babe Zaharias. Odds are pretty good he'll shoot better than his age.
“Oh, I shoot my age just about every time I play,” Auffurth says matter-of-factly. “I average around 81 or 82. But I play from the short tees. And when I turn 90 I’m going to tell them I need to move up farther.”
Bud says he once was a long-hitter -- "300 yards when the ground was hard and I got a good roll." Today he's happy with a 200-yarder down the middle.
Those who play with him say he's good at that.
“I think it’s awesome to see somebody 90-years old who likes to compete the way he does,” said Zaharias pro Ed Campbell. “He tries as hard to win now as he did when he was 40. He loves the game of golf and loves to compete. Bud’s just a wonderful gentleman to be around.”
Auffurth says he learned to play golf at Port Groves, where Gilly Gilchrist was the pro. He shot his best ever round of 69 there, but notes “that was a long time ago.”
Before he became a fixture at Zaharias, Auffurth played at the Port Arthur Country Club, now Belle Oaks. How about at the first PACC when it was located in Groves, near the Neches River: "Before my time," he smiles.
Auffurth, who says he’s disappointed to have made only a single hole in one, was renowned as a pitcher when fast-pitch softball was a major sports attraction in Port Arthur. He’s also a pioneer member of the Pompano Club, and is often seen on the dance floor.
He's still known by countless clients as a dispensing optician at Texas State Optical. After working full-time for 41 years, it’s been Tuesday-only for 25 years.
(You can catch him at TSO in Jefferson City 962-5796)
CHIP SHOTS: Pretty much overlooked with the buildup to the U.S. Open, and tournaments on the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours last weekend was the near miss for Lamar ex Dawie ver der Walt in the Web.com Tour’s Cleveland Open. Van der Walt, who closed with a 66, finished birdie-birdie to gain four strokes on Steven Alker over the final two holes and force a playoff. The pair then set a record by tying 10 consecutive holes with pars, before Alker won with a birdie. Van der Walt collected $64,800 to move up to 21st on the Web.com money list . . . Nederland’s Thaine Tillie fired a 78 (37-41) to win Boys 16-18 by nine strokes in the STPGA Junior’s opening summer tournament at Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange. Other flight winners were Brittany Leatherwood of Nederland (104 in Girls 16-18), Trent Kizer of Vidor (96 in Boys 13-15) and Sara Houthoofd of Beach City (119 in Girls 13-15). In the Junior Links Tour portion of the tourney, Michael Smith won with a nine-hole score of 53. Little Linksters winners were Jack Burke of Orange (36 in Boys 10-12, 9 hole red tees), Javin Holden of Vidor (44 in Boys 10-12, 9 hole modified tees), Makenna Henry of Sour Lake (56 in Girls 10-12, 9 hole modified), Layton Fielder of Sour Lake (26 in Boys 10-12, 5 hole modified), Daigan Venable of Lumberton (62 in Co-ed 6-9, 9 hole modified and Nathan Petrash of Highlands (30 in Co-ed 6-9, 5 hole modified . . . The team of Ray Trahan, Dwayne Morvant, Bob Moore and David Sturgal finished with 23 points to win the Babe Zaharias DogFight. There was a tie for second at 21 points between the foursome of Larry Johnson, John House, Paul Duplantis and Jobie Irvine and the team of Raymond Darbonne, Pete Reobroi, Malcolm Tiller and Scott Welch. Closest to the hole winners were Richard Sibley (No. 2), Don Duplan (No. 7), Irvine (2B) and Pete Reobroi (7B) . . . The Senior Game at The Babe was played in an individual stroke play format. Bob Barnes and Ed Hetzel finished 1-2 in First Flight with 70 and 76, respectively. Bill Jones (74) edged Charles Leard by a stroke in Second Flight while Richard Sibley’s 79 was four better than Jimmy Flowers in Third Flight. Closest to the pin winners were Leard (No. 2), Sibley (No. 7), Larry Johnson (No. 12, No. 15) . . . The team of John Ray, J.P Ray and Lowell Benoit carded a 57 to win the Fraternal Order of Eagles #3743 Scholarship Scramble at Zaharias. Second with a 58 was the foursome of Roy Martinez, Don Rucker, Luther Childress and Randy Kiziah. Closest to the pin winners were Kiziah (No. 2), Rucker (No. 7), Martinez (No. 12) and J.P. Ray (No. 15) . . . The team of Adam Noel, Rick Pritchett, Richard Sibley and Dan Flood scored a sweep in the Super Saturday game. Playing a two-ball format, they were minus 2 on the front and minus four on the back . . . David Vorpahl finished plus 7 to win the Monday Seniors at Belle Oaks. Rufus Mier was second at plus 5. Joe Vanderweg won closest to the hole on No. 15. In the Friday Seniors at Belle Oaks, Ed Boone won with plus 4. Vorpahl was second at plus 3. There was no closest to the pin winner . . . Entries are being taken for the Southeast Texas Championship, which will be 36 holes of stroke play June 28 (8 a.m. shotgun) at Babe Zaharias and June 29 at Bayou Din (1 p.m. shotgun). Entry fee is $50, with all entry money going to the prize fund. Greens and cart fees are separate. Players will be flighted by handicap. To enter, call 722-8286 or 796-1327 . . . The field for the 47th annual Silsbee Men’s Golf Association Championship June 12-15 has been filled but sponsorships are still available. Players in the Pro Flight will be playing for a first place payout of $4,000 from a $15,000 purse. Three former champions — Baylor ex Jeff Gerlich, former Lamar player M.J. Daffue and Tye Grissom — are back to try and win for a second time. Also in the field are a handful of Adams Tour players, headed by Brian Rowell, and Lamar exes Joran “Red Dog” Meeks, Heath McGallion, Chris Davis and Russell Helson.
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