History vs. hooch: Will a distillery soon replace the Fort Worth golf course on which Hogan and Nelson were introduced to the game?
By John Strege
Glen Garden Golf and Country Club is a nondescript patch of hardpan and history in Fort Worth, Texas, a century of memories spread across its 106 acres.
Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson caddied there, earning 65 cents a loop, this their introduction to the game. The last of Nelson's 18 victories in 1945 came in the Glen Garden Open. Sandra Palmer was weaned on golf at Glen Garden, where Jack Grout was an assistant pro before moving to Ohio and becoming the caretaker of Jack Nicklaus' swing.
Today? The Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company, an award-winning producer of whiskey, has agreed to buy Glen Garden with the intention of moving its distillery there.
"I would imagine it's already been a distillery at some point of its history," Palmer said jokingly on Tuesday. Palmer, who won 19 LPGA tournaments including the U.S. Women's Open, was 13 when she went to live with surrogate parents Ed and Vida Warren in their home on Timberline Drive, adjacent to the third hole at Glen Garden, a couple of blocks from where Nelson once lived.
"It's always sad to see where you spent a lot of your heart go away," she said on a more serious note. "You always leave a little of your heart wherever you go. There are wonderful memories there, so much history that's been there through the years."
It is not yet a lost cause. Residents in the neighborhood that surrounds the property are fighting a zoning change that would allow the distillery to be built. The Fort Worth Zoning Commission was deadlined on a vote to approve the change. So the matter has been sent to the Fort Worth City Council to decide the matter in its meeting on July 15.
"It's unfortunate that it's come to that," Palmer said. "But the golf business is tough these days. Too bad the city can't buy it and do something with it."