Editor's Note: Today is the fourth edition of a 10-day celebration of this year's Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame induction here at CUBuffs.com, profiling each of this year's inductees, leading up to Saturday's football game against Iowa State. Today, we look at the career of men's golf standout Dale Douglass. This year's Hall of Fame festivities begin Thursday, Nov. 11, with the induction ceremonies at the Omni Interlocken Hotel & Resort (6 p.m. reception, with induction ceremony at 7 p.m.). The celebration continues with a women's/men's basketball doubleheader on Friday, Nov. 12, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The honorees will be introduced publicly at halftime of Saturday's game, which kicks off against the Cyclones at 11:30 a.m.
Life is marked by firsts. First word, first steps, first day of school, first love. But some of us have "firsts" no one else will ever have. Such is the case for the University of Colorado's first golfer to make it big professionally, Dale Douglass. And not only was Douglass an inaugural member of CU's Golf Hall of Fame, in 1969 he became the first Buff to play on the Ryder Cup team. A man of "firsts," Douglass prepares to join an elite group of Colorado athletes in the CU Athletic Hall of Fame who have not only gone on to succeed in his/her sport, but also in the community.
Douglass attended Colorado from 1956 to 1959. During that time, he left his mark on the program with three top 10 Big Seven Conference finishes, tying for eighth as a sophomore, placing seventh as a junior and fifth his senior year.
What makes this feat more outstanding was college golf consisted more of dual matches than tournament play. In his career at CU, Douglass went 30-9 making him one of the most successful golfers on the team. Looking back on his days of dual meets brought Douglass many fond memories of team travel. Douglass said the golf players would travel to away matches in a CU suburban. This vehicle took them near and far, both around the state and as far as the west coast.
|Dale Douglass (second from left) has had a successful professional career with three PGA wins and 11 Senior/Champions Tour victories
While golf team travel has since changed, Douglass has seen the game change in more drastic ways, especially in the past 15 years.
"The equipment has made a huge difference in how [the game is] played," Douglass said. "The equipment I used in college didn't change until maybe 1980. All the equipment those years prior to that, I used the same equipment.
"It's a little controversial. The argument is the golf ball in particular goes further than it used to. It has made a lot of old championship golf courses out of date because the holes played are too short," he said.
And when it comes to playing, Douglass is a fan of the older courses, too.
"I like golf courses that were built in the 1930s or before. I'm not a fan of modern architecture. Pebble Beach and Cyprus Point are two of my favorite places to play," he said.
The game of golf has taken Douglass from those California beaches to the east coast and everywhere in between since his career on the PGA Tour began in 1960, and later on the Champions Tour in 1986. Since beginning his professional career, Douglass has won three PGA Tour events and 11 PGA Champions (formally Senior) Tour titles. His 444 PGA Tour starts are impressive, but some may find it even more amazing he has played 599 events on the Champions Tour. This is enough to make him the second all-time participant in Senior/Champions Tour history. In 2003, Douglass became the fifth player in the history of the game to play 500 tournaments.
So what is it that keeps this man of "firsts" coming back to the game today time and time again?
"It's not a matter of coming back," he said. "I never left. I had an automobile wreck that set my career back. I was working very diligently to get my golf game back. During that period of time, all of a sudden, the Senior Tour came about. I was trying to revive my golf game. And I was fortune enough to hang around when the Senior Tour arrived. I was there waiting," he said.
And it became very apparent Douglass took advantage of this new opportunity. Still, CU's star golfer knows it was more than just luck that brought him years of success after college.
"I was a late bloomer. I was on the team all the years I was in school but didn't really develop my golf career until I turned pro," Douglass said.
"I think when you're young, you think you can do a lot of things. You can't accomplish until you try. I did everything I could to further my opportunity to get on the Tour. I had people who enabled me to try out and play the Tour. Every time I got out, I got better."
Douglass continues to be a part of CU golf by giving back to the program. He and his wife have a number of scholarships, one being the Dale Douglass Scholarship. This award goes directly toward funding current CU golfer's scholarships.
"It is a feel good deal to be able to give to the university after you're gone. We also have the Joyce and Dale Scholarship we give through the university. We have a tournament in Fort Morgan (Colo.) which is in my name and we give a scholarship there. We've done that for over 20 years too," he added.
Douglass will forever go down in history as one of the most successful and generous golfers CU has produced. Not only was he a man of "firsts," but he also set the stage for a competitive Colorado golf program for years to come.