In October 1978, a two-year-old (almost three) pint-sized golfer charmed the world with his appearance on The Mike Douglas Show. This no-frills toddler even won a putting contest (despite repositioning the ball inches from the cut) against Bob Hope.
The name of this young man? Tiger Woods.
On March 29 of this year in Bartlesville, another kid’s clubber caught the eye of the stars by hole-in-one on No. 2 Adams Golf Course.
Now, admittedly, the distance from the drive to the hole was only 15 yards – but for 3.5-year-old Waylon Henderson, it probably felt more like a mile.
“He was sinking and rolling in the hole,” recalled his father Zac Henderson, a former Rogers State golfer and current resident of Bartlesville.
Henderson credited Adams pro Jimmy Howe with helping Waylon with his game and creating the opportunity.
Waylon used a children’s gardening club. The ball carried 10 to 12 meters in the air before rolling the rest of the way.
Waylon, who hits from the right side, has recently taken an interest in golf, Zac said.
“He’s going to take a swing here or there. This year, when he wants to hit the course…we’ll get in the truck and get out and play, whether it’s for 10 minutes or more.
Waylon didn’t realize the significance of his achievement, “but I put a lot of work into it and once he saw me excited he started jumping and doing the kid thing .”
It was like dad like son – Zac has a hole-in-one and a double eagle under his belt.
Afterwards, Waylon was treated to an ice cream party.
Other than golf, Waylon hasn’t yet had much exposure to organized sports, which typically start at age four and up.
Golf “is something to get him out and to the park and play,” Zac said.
Zac praised Howe and Jerry Benedict for their commitment to child golfers.
“Jerry is great with the kids,” Zac said. “He’s always been a great support for young people to get into the game. He goes above and beyond for the kids. They have some pretty special people there.
Zac grew up in Claremore and graduated from Pryor High. He golfed for two years at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, then was part of Rogers State’s first men’s golf team.
Preston Bartley of Copan was also part of this team (2009-10).
Lynn Blevins served as the head coach.
In RSU’s first-ever competition, Henderson shot 233 and the Hillcats finished eighth in the 10-team field.
Maybe in a few years Waylon’s name might show up in golf reports.
But the future is an unwritten chapter with countless choices to make – the only thing that matters right now is that the youngster enjoys hitting the ball, connecting on a magic shot and enjoying an ice cream prize.
Perhaps, such things, a ball of naive greatness is appreciated.