Gift of golf clubs led to repeat wins

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2008

NATCHEZ — All it took was a set of golf clubs as an anniversary present from his wife and a few solid shots to get Pete Powell hooked on the game of golf for a lifetime.

Forty years later, he is still hitting the little white ball around at the fast pace he has always played at.

This weekend, he’ll be shooting for yet another win in the 37th annual Bill McKinney City Golf Championship at Duncan Park Golf Course, an event he has won 11 previous times.

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“He had only played golf one time before when I gave him the set of golf clubs for our first wedding anniversary (in 1969),” his wife Judy said. “I got him that set of clubs and that was it.”

Pete said that just a couple of good shots with that set of clubs got him hooked on the game.

“If you start playing and hit a couple of solid shots, it gets you going,” he said. “My favorite thing about golf is the feeling you get from hitting a solid golf shot.”

Powell’s job caused him to move from Natchez to Joliet, Ill., in 2002, but he has still come back to play in the city championship tournament every year.

In fact, it’s the only time of the year he plays golf now.

“I take a week’s vacation to visit the children and grandchildren and play in this tournament,” Powell said. “About a month before the tournament, I’ll go out to the range and hit balls to get back into shape and then I’ll come down (to Natchez) and play golf every day in the week leading up to the tournament.”

Golf has become a way for Powell and his family to bond as well.

Pete and his son Peter will play together in this weekend’s tournament and Judy also plays golf regularly, belonging to a golf league in Illinois.

“We all just love to play,” Pete said. “We rib at each other a little bit on the course but we pull for each other too. We just have fun playing.”

And in a few months, Pete will be getting to spend much more time with the family and at the Duncan Park Golf Course, as he plans to retire and move back to Natchez in March.

“We’re looking forward to that,” he said. “It will be nice to be back down here again.”