The Dart: Local golfer finds escape from oilfield woes on course
Published 12:00 am Monday, February 8, 2016
NATCHEZ — Larry Hall is just one guy, but right now his story is the story of many folks in the Miss-Lou.
When The Dart found him Friday afternoon, Hall had just dumped a plastic bag full of golf balls on the putting green at Duncan Park.
Taking aim before tapping a ball gently into the cup, Hall said, “I’ve been trying to do this since I was 11 years old.”
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“This is something I would always do, when I was happy or depressed,” he said.
Hall had played on the golf team when he was in high school, and followed that with two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
“My golf coach told me I could play in the Professional Golf Association, but I figured I would get easier money down here without hitting golf balls for six to eight hours a day,” he said.
So Hall went into business as a drywall painter and contractor.
But where his story becomes like many others came next. After the contracting business, Hall went into the energy sector, spending three decades in the oil recovery business, picking up waste oil or contaminated diesel from businesses and taking it for re-refining.
When the price of a barrel of oil started dropping, though, business got tougher, and about the time oilfield crews started getting layoff notices, Hall couldn’t keep the business up any longer.
“When the price of oil was $100 a barrel, they’d pay me $1.42 a gallon, but it got to where it felt like they wouldn’t give me a nickel,” he said. “When it got below 60 cents a gallon, I couldn’t break even anymore.”
Eventually, he said, he parked his truck in the driveway and called the bank.
“I told them I was sorry as I could be, but they were going to have to come and take it,” he said.
Hall isn’t wallowing in self-pity, and he’s looking for work, he said, but he’ll admit times have been tough.
In the meantime, though, he’s got golf.
“This is me getting out and enjoying God’s day that he gave me, that’s what it’s about — it’s an escape,” he said.
Aiming another putt, he taps it forward. It rolls in a straight line for the cup, but veers to the left at the last minute.
“Well,” he said, “I pulled the stink out of that one.”
Trying again, he hits another ball. It does the same thing, veering to the left.
“That one, too,” he said.