Teeing Off in Texarkana

I want to open this article with a big hello to all my friends and family in Texarkana, I truly miss everyone there so much. I had the pleasure of coming to Texarkana a total stranger and doing the best I could to work my way into the heart and culture of this great city. When I first came to Texarkana I pulled up on Miller road and thought “oh lord what am I doing”. The first two years at New Haven I was welcomed by a tornado, two front line winds and a hurricane only to realize such catastrophic events are what create and conserve the amazing culture in Texarkana. Through those events I realized how amazing the people in this town were and began my true love for Texarkana and golf.

Now for some golf talk. It took three or four years before I realized how much history and influence Texarkana had on the golf world. The first bit of history was the story of Bill Rogers and what a great person and golfer he really was and how he raised the eyes of any golfer watching someone from Texarkana tee off. Hearing his stories from members of the Texarkana Country Club and North Ridge was my first eye opener. Then playing in the Four States Invitational and seeing Byron Nelson’s plaque on 16 just enhance my appreciation for golf in this town. I understand Rick Rogers is keeping the legacy of history going as he coaches Pleasant Grove and develops the new age of golfers to contribute to the history of golf in Texarkana. On that same note, I had the pleasure of working with Jay Brewer and watching what he did to build not only a better golfer but a better class of golfer as he influenced Texas high golf team and continues to today. Charley Bateman was, to me, one of the unsung hero’s in this group as he tried to bring in talented golfers and never quit on his kids always helping them to be better people at the very least.

Golf throughout the country constantly fights the battle of maintaining tradition while appealing to the new generations and Texarkana exemplifies this struggle more than any place I have seen. From the old men that play on Monday, Wednesday and Friday out at New Haven to the young kids I worked with in the First Tee, never has that struggle been more apparent. Watching the young kids get out and learn great lessons about integrity and honor while hosting the hope of developing a golf game, was truly a blessing. On the other side hearing the older men at New Haven and the other courses tell stories of playing on sand greens and always having a caddy was just as enjoyable. The First Tee of Greater Texarkana is the best opportunity for bridging the gaps between generations. Any time you are teaching young kids about responsibility, adversity and integrity while at a place that was built on all three, there is a great recipe for a better America.

I hope talented golfers will continue to come out of Texarkana and put their staple on America. I had the pleasure of meeting one these golfers, Zach Fischer. He was to me what I hope the young kids in the First Tee aspire to be like. He is a humble person with great sense of family while being a fierce competitor and force to reckon with on the golf course. I check the web.com tour standings every week and am so amazed at that young man’s perseverance and desire to improve. As a resident of Texarkana for some time I know we will all be rooting for him for years to come.

I hope this will not be my last chance to connect with Texarkana and I look forward to getting down there and causing trouble 😉 My experience being part of the golf world in Texarkana was a treasured time of my life that I hope will repeat itself at some point. As I drove out on Miller Road heading to Colorado I teared up and thought “What am I doing leaving this incredible place filled with so many people I love to my core?” Thank you Texarkana for taking this young man in and showing him how it’s done in the south, I will be back!

– Joey Baumann

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