Golf Pro Doug Tewell
The PGA, Advil and a Box of Straws for Johnnies
Few professional golf names are more familiar in Oklahoma than Doug Tewell. But without the support of another well-known Oklahoma sports figure, Tewell’s name might be more associated with North Carolina or Arkansas.
In 1966 when Tewell was graduating from high school in Stillwater, he had scholarship offers from Wake Forest and the University of Arkansas. At that time, the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play varsity sports. As a result, the Oklahoma State golf coach had a policy of not awarding scholarships to freshmen, Tewell said.
Tewell was working at the Stillwater Golf and Country Club that summer and frequently saw basketball coach Henry Iba. One day Iba asked Tewell if he’d be going to OSU in the fall and Tewell told him no, that he would be going out of state for school in the fall.
“Mr. Iba said, ‘We can’t have you leaving here,’” Tewell said. The following day he got a call from Iba’s secretary telling him there was a scholarship waiting for him — a basketball scholarship.
“I showed up for basketball practice the first day and Mr. Iba asked me what I was doing there,” Tewell said. “But I got a nice pair of Converse tennis shoes out of it.”
While in college, Tewell married his high school sweetheart, Pam. The two have been together 37 years and she accompanies him to most of his golf tournaments.
For the past four years, the Tewells have made those tournament trips in a private jet — a far cry from what they did in the late 1970s when he was in his first decade on the pro tour.
“We drove a station wagon and we’d go take the children to see things,” Tewell said. “We’ve taken our kids to the Smithsonian a dozen times.”
During some of that time, the Tewells home schooled their children so their family could spend more time together. But since 1975, their home base has always been Edmond.
“It’s a great place to raise kids,” Tewell said.
Tewell’s kids are now grown: daughter Kristine lives in Oklahoma City and son Jay is in Tulsa. The Tewells have five grandchildren ranging in age from 6 months to 8 years. The oldest, Spencer, is now starting to play golf. But it is something Tewell said he hasn’t pushed.
“I say let them enjoy other sports like soccer until they are 12 or 13 before you put them into golf,” he said.
In recent years, Tewell has been plagued by elbow problems and decided to have surgery in May 2005. He took off most of the summer to recover and came back in August.
“I played quite well — for about three weeks,” Tewell said. Then his elbow started throbbing and the pain has continued.
“The doctors now say it is arthritis and there is nothing they can do surgically,” Tewell said. He jokes that he is becoming acquainted with Advil.
Tewell played on the PGA Tour from 1975 to 2005, and for the past six years has been playing on the Champions Tour. In a typical week, he finishes a tournament on Sunday and is home on Monday and Tuesday before flying out for the next tournament on Wednesday. He said the schedule causes some stress, but most golfers maintain their travels for about 30 weeks during the year and then have 22 weeks off.
“The free time is really nice,” Tewell said.
At 58, Tewell knows he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
“It all depends on the elbow,” Tewell said. He’s considered limiting his schedule — playing in 10 tournaments instead of 25. For 2006, he is slated to play in about 24. The recent Senior PGA Championship at Oak Tree was his 10th event for the year. Tewell finished ninth, scoring a 287 in four rounds of play. He won the event in 2000.
In the meantime, he’s finding plenty of other ways to fill his time.
He’s helping daughter Kristine with a new business: Heirloom Homes. They own real estate in Nichols Hills and at Stonebridge Ranch that they plan to develop as home sites. Additionally, they plan to work on remodels in Nichols Hills.
“She’s very talented and I get to do the father thing and help fund it,” Tewell said. He’s no stranger to home construction — Tewell has built four houses at Oak Tree.
Because he’s so close to the Oak Tree course, it might be expected that Tewell would play golf all the time. But he said he hasn’t yet played six full rounds on the course this year.
“Mostly I tinker,” he said. “I may go out and work on chipping or putting, but I seldom play a full 18 holes.”
Still, Tewell insists that he practices a lot more than people give him credit for.
“During the summer, I come out at 6 a.m. I work on it for a couple of hours and I’m having breakfast at eight and then I go home for the day. People don’t think I practice because they never see me practicing, but I do.”
When he’s not on the golf course, Tewell enjoys watching NASCAR races.
“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” he said, adding that he’s a Dale Jarrett fan and has played golf with Richard Petty.
“They’re on the top of their sport and they are some of the most grounded people I’ve met,” he said.
On Mondays, it is not unusual to find Tewell bringing boxes of straws to the Johnnie’s Express restaurant. He owns an interest in the popular burger eatery.
“It’s been a good investment. I can’t complain,” he said. He described the business agreement he has with his partner, Rick Haynes: “He said, ‘I won’t give you putting lessons if you don’t tell me how to run the restaurant.’”
It is quite possible that Tewell’s name and face may become even better known to golf fans around the country in the future.
“I have been in touch with the Golf Channel,” Tewell said. He did announcing for three years after he retired from the PGA and was waiting to turn 50. If his elbow problems continue to plague his game, trading in his driver for a microphone would be a way to stay on the greens.