News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 15, 2009

Rub of the Green: One of Terre Haute’s longest hitters made his mark at Firestone

By Bob Arnett

Watching the WGC Bridgestone Invitational played at Firestone Country Club last Sunday brought to mind an often-repeated story with a Terre Haute flavor.

It was back in the late 1960s when Bill Mitchell, Vice-President of Eastern Motor Express invited Dave Goeller, Mark Fisk and Dr. Jim Bopp to play the hallowed Firestone golf course, long reputed as one of the best and toughest golf venues in the U.S.

Since Mitchell’s company was one of Firestone’s big customers, he had the opportunity to take guests to play the course, which obviously would make any golfer ecstatic.

Goeller came to Terre Haute to practice law back in 1963. Making Country Club of Terre Haute his home course, Goeller won three CCTH Club Championships. In addition, he recorded a 65 as his low score on the Allendale layout.

Fisk had played the No. 1 man position on the Indiana State Teachers’ College golf team. He was regarded as the longest hitter in the history of Terre Haute golf. Fisk also had a Terre Haute Match Play Championship in his resume.

Bopp was an anesthesiologist at Union Hospital in Terre Haute. While a member of the U.S. Army Medical Corp, Bopp once defeated Orville Moody in an overseas tournament. Later Moody would win the U. S. Open.

It was at the monstrous 16th hole that things got interesting for the Terre Haute foursome. Fisk hit a thunderous tee shot well past the 300-yard mark. Playing slightly more than 600 yards from the back tees, No. 16 also had a pond guarding its front. Any approach shot had to carry the green or else find a watery grave.

Goeller recalls, “When I saw Mark pulling an iron out of his bag for his second shot, I told him, surely you’re not going to lay up when you have a great opportunity to hit this green in two shots.”

Goeller continued, “Mark listened to my advice and went back to a three wood, and he rifled his shot to within eight feet of the hole.”

Although he missed the putt, he had done what only two had done before.

When the group reached the clubhouse, they told the professional on duty what Mark had accomplished, but the pro refused to believe them. The unknown pro advised that only Arnold Palmer and Bobby Nichols had hit the 16th in two shots.

The Terre Haute golfers were certainly unhappy about the pro’s reluctance to accept what they had just seen. Perhaps if that same pro had witnessed Fisk’s shot at the National Intercollegiate Driving Contest that measured 3431⁄2 yards, he would have been a believer.

Many feel that with today’s “hot” golf balls and modern clubs, Fisk could have eclipsed the 400-yard mark with a swing that often split the heads of persimmon drivers which were standard in the 1950s.

In addition, Firestone’s 16th now plays much easier than it did in the ’60s. Tee shots now play downhill and several pros get home in two.

Like many golf stories that take a life of their own, some say that the Firestone pro was Bobby Nichols, but Goeller is quick to repudiate that. Although Dave doesn’t recall the pro’s name, it was definitely not Nichols, who was a big winner in professional golf.

Nichols actually accepted the Firestone job at a later date. Playing golf with Fisk was always a treat, as was playing in the company of Goeller, Bopp, and Bill Mitchell.

Fisk’s golfing buddies at Country Club of Terre Haute nicknamed him “Big Man”, although in college he was far from the “giant” category at just under six feet in height and 175 pounds in weight, but make to doubt about it, Mark could hit a golf ball “out of sight”.

• • •

Congratulations to Tom Jones who appears ready to “run the table” when it comes to Terre Haute Golf Tournaments. The seven-time city champion can hit the ball like a touring pro.

It would appear that his opposition in the city tourney will need to exhibit a Tiger Woods putting touch if they want to stay close to Mr. Jones in any golf competition.

• • •

A loud “well done” to Chad Collins of Cloverdale for his second-place tie in the Nationwide-Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open that concluded last Sunday. By pocketing more than $48,000 with rounds of 66, 67, 65 and 70, he should have an excellent opportunity to win his PGA Tour card for 2010 by finishing in the top 25 at season’s end.

• • •

• Tip of the week — Strive to develop a tempo when you swing the club that will be consistent whether you are practicing or participating in a tournament. Many players swing too hard and too fast when they feel tournament pressure. Stay in your comfort range and make your tempo automatic.

Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. We’ll be back.

Bob Arnett can be reached by e-mail at

Vigo County Golf Leagues

Mark’s Par Three Men’s Senior — Second half standings: Watts Farms (champion) 363, Vigo Bowl 337, Dew Drop Inn 318, Tabco 305, Mattingly Collision 291, C&E; Environmental 290, Old National Trust 289, Sycamore Chevrolet 261. Low gross: Kenny Coffin 37. Low net: Coffin 26. Closest to pin: Larry Jennings (9). Longest drive: Kenny Walsh (4). Longest putt: Lloyd Boston.

Fort Harrison Ladies 9-hole — (Mini-tournament) First flight: Mary Shake (first), Darby Gugliemetti (second). Second flight: Kate Meehling (first), Betty McKee (second). Third flight: Cathy Wagner (first), Anita Cheek (second). Chip-in: Mary Shake.

Paitson’s Eastend Ladies — Standings: Natalie’s Consignment Shop 599, Turner Coach 570, Krock Racing 568, Coaches Corner 561, Sandy’s Touch of Magic 554, Advanced Chiropractic 548, Baesler’s Market and Otis Elevator 540. Low gross: Myrna Handley 38. Low net: Joan Swift 28. Play of day: Lois Casassa (closest to pin on hole no. 1). Chip-ins: Shirley Osburn (6), Dawn Williams (2), Carolyn Wilkins (1), Brenda Ellis (2). Birdies: Iva Montgomery (1).

First Financial Rea Park Monday 9-hole — Standings: Shepard’s Gas 598, VFW No. 1 Ladies Auxiliary 580, VFW No. 2 Ladies Auxiliary 511, Bratt Animal Hospital 471. Low gross: Kay Gard 48. Low net: Gard, Barb Kelley, Anne Foster 37.

Rea Park Wednesday Evening — Standings: Mann-Bocard 31, Durand-Atterson 24, Clements-Harden 23, Meyer-Petty 23, Honselman-Luttrell 23, Cannon-Snow 23, Swalls-Hiatt 23, McCord-Price 23, Hamilton-M.Johnson 22, Lanke-T.Johnson 21, Horrall-Ugo 20, Hyde-Rusk 19, Padgett-Pair 19, Mozley-Bedwell 14. Low gross: Renee Honselman 40. Low net: Kathleen Atterson 33. Chip-ins: Toni Johnson, Candy McCord, Madonna Johnson, Mary Jean Petty, Linda Pair. Birdies: Sheri Harden (2), Honselman (1, 6), Sharon Hamilton (1), Eileen Mann (3).

TH Savings Bank Senior Men — National Division standings: Pizza Hut 240, Fore Seasons Golf Complex 235, Page’s Market 232, Complete Kitchen and Bath 226, Lough Bros. 215, Paitson Bros. 206, TH Savings Bank 202, SMC 196. Low gross: Frank Hoffman 39. Low net: Terry Jarvis 32. American Division standings: Poplar Flower Shop 255, Tabco 239, Spring Clean Car Wash 239, Gurman Container 228, Salt of the Earth 214, VFW No. 972 178, Baesler’s Market 173. Low gross: David Bays 38. Low net: Jim Senff 31, Jeff Griggs 31.

Rea Park Tuesday Women’s 18-hole — Low gross: Pat Cannon 80. Low net: Cannon and Beth Lowe 65. Eagle: Cannon (7). Birdies: Sandy Stabler (3), Shawn Durand (11), Carolyn Hyde (16), Sharon Hamilton (1, 17). Chip-ins: Cannon (7, 10), Durand (4).

Idle Creek Ladies Tuesday Morning Scramble — First place team (40): Peggy Burlison, Mary Brannen, Monica Hawkins, Susie Colligan. Second place team (47): Debbie Holcomb, Sue Borden, Mary Cahill, Joyce Burdine. Longest putt: Burlison (18). Closest to pin: M.Brannen (12), Burlison (16).

Idle Creek Home Builders Tuesday Evening — Low gross: Troy Pless 37. Low net: Jack Simpson and Roy Longstreth 30. Longest drive: Pless (8). Closest to pin: Dave Earley (3), John Eller (9).

Idle Creek Terminal Sports and Spirits Wednesday Evening — First place team (37): Denise Rowlett, Zach Wilhoyte. Second place team (38): Scott Logan, Dave Rowlett. Closest to pin: Matt Love (3, 9).

Coming up

• The THWGA will host its last event of the season on Aug. 22 at Rea Park Golf Course. The format will be a partner scramble. All female golfers in the Valley are welcome. Entry fee is $10 per person and includes prizes, breakfast, and a luncheon. The annual meeting of the THWGA will be held immediately following the luncheon, with election of officers at that time. For more information or to register for the event contact Kelly Gosnell at or at (812) 894-2299.