With the Tom Watson Junior Golf Course officially under construction after its groundbreaking ceremony June 19, one Maryville man has stepped up to make a crucial contribution.
Orval Heywood, who cares deeply about the course and its potential impact on the community and the sport, has made a $60,000 commitment to the project.
“I wanted to do something for (Mozingo Golf Professional) Kyle Easter and do something for the course, so I decided that whatever it took, that’s what it’s going to be,” Heywood said.
“They’ve been real good to me here; they bring me my golf carts,” he chuckled.
Heywood’s generosity will go toward a large practice green to be located near the center of the nine-hole youth course. A miscommunication between Tom Watson’s course design team and the contractor meant funds for the green were not included in the original $520,000 budget.
“We actually had a cost overrun on the design where the contractor didn’t see something that Watson had wanted, which is the practice area,” said Dr. Bruce Twaddle, a local dentist who is heading up fundraising for the project. “It’s a green that’s about three times the size of a normal green.”
Although Heywood’s initial proposal was for the money to go toward building a shelter on the current 18-hole course, Easter suggested to Heywood that the junior course was where the need was.
The 93-year-old Heywood tees off at noon every weather-permitting weekday to play the front nine holes at Mozingo before wrapping up his session around 2 p.m. and chatting it up in the clubhouse.
“I’ve been playing at Mozingo almost since the day this course started,” Heywood said. “I played in Bedford and Tarkio before I moved here, so I’ve put a few days in.
“I’m going on 94-years-old, so I figured I’d better do something before something happens to me.”
Much like the excitement Twaddle has expressed for the project in recent weeks, Heywood’s enthusiasm for the Tom Watson Junior Golf Course is obvious.
“As far as that junior course is concerned, it’s going to be something big before they get through with it,” Heywood said. “To get the schools started with it and everything, there’s no telling how big it can get.”
With a number of years hitting the links under his belt, Heywood still navigates the course — or half of it — almost every day.
“I don’t know what I’d do without golf if I couldn’t play,” Heywood said. “It’s about all I can do anymore. It keeps me going.”