Thanks to the Senior PGA Tour, which doesn’t qualify players until they are 50 or older, Dale Douglass had 22 years on the regular PGA Tour before easing into the national limelight. When he broke into the old-timers’ circuit, he did it with a flare as he finished second in a playoff in the 1986 Senior PGA championship and then won the next two events, the Vintage and Johnny Mathis Classic, playing ten straight rounds under par.
But the highlight of his career came later his rookie season as he edged out Gary Player by one stroke to win the prestigious United States Golf Association’s Senior Open at the Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. In all, he has won five titles in three years on the Senior Tour and the highlight of his 1987 season was five second-place finishes. He has also represented the United States in both the Ryder Cup and Chrysler Cup international competition and served as a representative on the PGA Tour’s Player’s Council in 1966-67.
Moving with his family from Oklahoma to Fort Morgan at age 15, Douglass was recruited to the University of Colorado by golf coach Les Fowler, after outstanding high school and amateur performances.
He spent his early professional days as an assistant professional under the late Gene Root, head golf professional at the Lakewood Country Club. His first tour success came in 1969 when he won the Azalea Open in Wilmington, N.C. It was that all-important “first win” and next to his victory in the Senior Open, it is rated by Douglass as “a very significant accomplishment”. His other tour victories came in the 1969 Kemper Open and the Phoenix Open in 1970.
In his 1986 debut onto the Senior scene, Douglass tied with Charley Owens for first place at 67-70-69-66—272 in The Vintage, a 67-69-67—202 in the Johnny Mathis and carded a pair of 71s in the SunWest Bank before going over par at 73. He was leader or co-leader in nine of the first ten rounds he played as a Senior and was a total of 44 under par prior to his final round in the SunWest Bank.
He finished off 1986 with a fourth victory, a one-shot decision over Miller Barber in the Fairfield Barnett Classic at Suntree Country Club in Melbourne, Fla., with a string of 68-67-68—203. Barber fired three 68s in the glove-tight duel.
In 1988, he won the GTE Classic in Tampa, and that earned him a ticket to the Tournament of Champions. It was the opening event for both tours and Douglass nearly made it a sweep for CU alums as Steve Jones won the PGA Tour Division.
“I certainly credit Les Fowler and CU for much of my success,” Douglass says. “In those days I had a working scholarship. I sold programs at all the home sports events. I ushered and then cleaned up after all the football and basketball games. I wouldn’t trade that for anything”.
Douglass was named “Golf Person of the Year” in 1986.
In those days I had a working scholarship. I sold programs at all the home sports events. I ushered and then cleaned up after all the football and basketball games. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.