What does a skinny, anemic boy in Winter Park, Florida do when his parents and doctor tell him he can’t go out for sports?
“I had good hand-eye coordination,” recalls Frank Boynton, “so I played a little golf.” By age thirteen, he had fallen in love with the sport, and was soon able to play forty-five holes and carry his own bag.
At age sixteen, he played in an exhibition game with Sam Snead, one of the top players in the world. “I shot sixty-one,” remembers Frank, “and Sam shot sixty-two.” Rather than be upset that the young whippersnapper had shown him up, Snead took him under his wing.
“Sam was good to me. He invited me to play at Greenbriar and Boca Raton, and paid my way. He was a tough competitor, but he was nice to me and wanted me to pursue my dream.”
Frank went on to become the Florida State High School Golf Champion and attended Rollins College on a golf scholarship. In his second year he was the Florida State Inter-collegiate Champion. This convinced him to turn pro, even though, as Frank says, “If you look at the percentage of people who make it, nobody would try.”
It was a big risk, particularly since golfers cover their own expenses. “Unlike football, a golfer pays his entry fees, caddie, room, food, and travel – these days that can easily run up to $5,000 a week.”
Asked if he had a back-up plan, Frank says, “Have you ever heard of anyone trying out brain surgery?” He jumped in feet first, and never looked back.
Frank’s career took him all over the United States, Mexico and Canada. He turned pro and played in his first PGA Tournament in 1956, and joined the tour full time in 1957. In those days the tournament circuit was set up so that players drove from course to course.
When I started in the late fifties, there were few rental cars. We drove ourselves. We’d all pull in to a Stuckey’s or Luby’s and fill the place up. You’d look down the cafeteria line and all you’d see were golfers.”
Another thing that was different back then was the PGA policy of discrimination. “I was friends with black pros, but they couldn’t play a full schedule of tournaments,” Frank remembers. By the early sixties, the policy had been abolished, “but there were still some hard feelings.”
Frank played in eight Bing Crosby Classics. His favorite course was Cypress Point. “I played all up and down California,” he says, “from Carmel to San Diego, even Tijuana, and inland – Fresno, Bakersfield, Hesperia. I never played in Europe but I did play in Bermuda when I was in the Navy (1958-60) and even won a tournament at Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba).”
Frank’s best finishes as a tour regular were second place at the 1962 St. Petersburg Open and the 1968 Tucson Open along with twenty-six top tens.
Tired of being on the road, he took a Club Pro job in Rochester, New York and later in Cleveland, Ohio. At that time it was possible to have a Club job up north and also play the Winter Tour.
Eventually the tour was changed so that driving was impossible. You could not get from an East Coast tournament to one on the West Coast in the time between tournaments. That’s when golfers began to have to fly. “There would be a courtesy car waiting when you landed,” Frank says. But because of the increased expense of travel, “they had to raise the tournament purses.”
Tired of the grueling schedule Frank retired from the tour in 1969. For the next ten years, he was a Club Pro in Tucson, Arizona. His last job in the golf business was as General Manager of Great Hills Golf Club in Austin.
In 1962, Betty Jordan, a graduate of University of Texas at Austin, went to work for IBM in Dallas. Her career took her from Dallas to Houston, back to Dallas, to Austin, to New York City, back to Austin, to Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and one more time, back to Austin. She loved the busy pace and said she didn’t really have time to meet a friend after work one Friday night. But her friend was very persistent.
“She called me five times that day,” Betty remembers, “so I finally broke down and said I would meet her at a club . . .for one drink.”
About ten minutes after she got there, Frank walked in, “He smiled at me and I smiled back.” This year the Boynton’s celebrated their twenty-ninth wedding anniversary.
The first time Frank and Betty played golf together, he says “She drove the ball a 140 yards with a 7-iron which put her about twenty yards off the green. Then on her next swing, she hit it 140 yards right into a McDonald’s parking lot! I could tell right away that she needed a lesson in gearing down.”
By now Frank had decided he wanted “a more normal life, where I didn’t have to work weekends.” He had always loved following the stock market, so he became a financial advisor.
The Boynton’s moved to Dallas. “It was a big transition. I had had modest success. I was never out of the top one-hundred. But I decided it was time to give it up.” Meantime, Betty had come full circle and finished her IBM career in the Dallas area after thirty years and six weeks.
When Frank was at the age to qualify for the Senior Tour, he thought about returning to golf. But by then he had over 300 clients, “so I decided to just stay where I was.”
After thirteen years in Dallas, Frank and Betty decided to look for a place to move that was pretty and had a more leisurely pace. They considered Colorado, Arkansas and east Texas. But then Betty remembered how much she had loved the Texas Hill Country as a kid.
“Frank’s introduction to the Hill Country, other than Austin was when we were invited to a party in Hunt,” Betty says. Later, a Dallas friend flew Frank down for a weekend of golf at Riverhill. That was the tie breaker. “We liked the beauty, the pace and the peacefulness of the Hill Country.”
“There are three great golf courses in Kerrville,” says Frank, “Comanche Trace, Riverhill, and Schreiner. That’s very rare for a town this size.”
Frank is not the only famous Boynton: Radar, their eleven-year old Tibetan Terrier-Border Collie-Poodle mix is well known as a therapy dog. (He was featured in the first issue of Lifestyle of Comance Trace and the Texas Hill Country).
Radar makes trips to the V.A. Hospital and performs a series of entertaining tricks. He’s a great listener when children read to him in the Canine Literacy program.
Today the Boynton’s are happy in their Comanche Trace home, designed by Mickey Thompson and built by Arthur Schmidt. They have lovely views of the hills and expansive Texas sky.
Asked what advice Frank would give to young golfers thinking of turning pro Frank says, “You better be playing – and beating – people at different levels.” He notes that golf will be an Olympic sport starting in 2016.
“I had a great career,” he says. “I played with my heroes, but I really love my life now.”