So much so that as he got older he turned them both — the game and the course — into his life.
Moore was the longtime pro at the city-operated nine-holer affectionately known as The Hill with a legacy of helping generations of county golfers. There aren’t many players in town who weren’t touched by Moore’s expertise, encouragement or wit, and it didn’t matter whether they were just starting to play or accomplished champions. In fact, many of the former became the latter under his watchful eye.
On Saturday, he’ll join former U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate in the golf wing of the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies for the Class of 2013 at the Oxford Civic Center. He will be enshrined posthumously with former county high school greats Roosevelt Coleman, Jimmy Luttrell, Darrell Malone, E.C. (Baldy) Wilson and Bobby Wilson.
“This is awesome; we’re all tickled to death,” said Keith Robertson, a longtime friend of Moore’s. “It makes us all proud. It’s like we got inducted, too. Buddy was so much a part of our lives that when something good happens to him, it happens to us, too.”
Moore, who died in 2011, became The Hill’s pro in 1969, shortly after finishing second to Chris Banister in the Calhoun County Championship. And like everything about Buddy, there’s a story that goes with that career choice.
Moore was a certified plumber working at Monsanto. One day on the job he found a pipe fitted with an elbow and, as all golfers are wont to do in idle moments, began to practice his golf swing. His supervisor walked by and upon seeing the demonstration asked Moore if he wanted to be a plumber or play golf.
Buddy thought for a moment, told the man “a golfer,” put down the pipe and walked off. He was the undisputed king of The Hill for 40 years, becoming a PGA life member in 2005. It sure beat climbing the smokestack.
“He had several job offers to move off and make more money,” Moore’s son Scott said, “but in talking to Buddy, it was never about the golf course; it was always about the people. He was so comfortable in that setting.
“That, to me, was probably the main reason he stayed there. I don’t think it was ever hardly the place, it was definitely the people he stayed for. And it just wasn’t people, it was families. It was generations.”
Moore was one of them. He grew up in the neighborhood around the Noble Street School, but later moved into a house down the hill and around the bend from the golf course. A few years later, the family moved into the home of former Anniston mayor Clyde Pippin that was directly across the street from pro shop.
“Every time we moved, it was closer to The Hill; I think that sums up how much he loved that place,” Scott said. “I believe if we could have built a house on hole 18 he would’ve done it.”
The first time Moore played there as a youth the course was known to the locals as “Goat Hill,” but it later became his front yard and playground, as he and the local youths played tackle football on the grounds just outside the front door of the shop.
“He was always the quarterback for both teams,” Tom Sawyer recalled. “Buddy had a rule that you couldn’t tackle Buddy; you could tag him but not tackle. We had two boys who were high school football players, Brian Simpson and Ron Koch. Well, these two guys got together one day and put the high-low on him; they popped him pretty good. I can see it in my mind. He was hurt, cracked a rib, but he got up and got on Brian pretty good. Then he got on me for letting it happen.”
The course really was more rocks and dirt than grass when he came aboard, but during his time as the pro he worked tirelessly to improve the conditions. Regulars still recall his disappointment when the remnants of a passing hurricane destroyed the pump house between the third and fourth holes.
Even with the course’s rustic conditions and limited space, players were intensely loyal to the place and flocked to the facility for their regular games — even as more courses began being built in town. He started the Calhoun County Junior Championship and continued to run the Calhoun County Championship for an always fast-filling full field until that event moved to Cane Creek Golf Course in 2005.
“You could ride by there and there’d be a foot of snow on the ground, 22 degrees and wind blowing and there’d be 40 cars in the parking lot,” Tom O’Brien said. “One hundred percent it was because of Buddy. We could’ve played elsewhere, but I never dreamed of it after I got hooked.”
“Buddy was the reason we all stayed,” Sawyer said. “He was a special person to a lot of people.”
Those people showed their appreciation shortly after Moore sustained serious injuries in a 2009 car accident. They organized a tournament to help him defray expenses that is still played today. His name also is carried on one of the brackets for the Calhoun County Match Play Championship. A momument dedicated to the memory of “Our Pro” stands on the back of the first tee at the course.
“Buddy gave all he had to the people of our area,” accomplished golfer and former Anniston Mayor Chip Howell wrote in his recommendation letter to the Hall of Fame selection committee. “He worked at least six days a week, raised some great children and created a place that hundreds of people were exposed to the great game of golf. He always had a minute for you, he always made you smile and he never met a stranger. He was a great ambassador for the game and for our community. He was a friend.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.