One of the very best things about writing an article about people is getting to know them. I have seldom met two guys with more engaging smiles – their smiles are reflected in their eyes. Digger Gray and Art Luppino have been members of Comanche Trace for some time. They came to Kerrville on different roads, but once they started playing golf together, a friendship was born that comes into a life far too rarely. They have so much fun and are both great golfers.
I sat with them just listening and trying to take it all in but I was laughing so much it was hard to write. They are just delightful people. Digger was born in Pecos, Texas and went to the University of Texas where he earned a degree in Geology. Then he was drafted into the Army (the Army drafted him three times). After he got out of the Army, he went to work for Magnolia Petroleum, where he was the last permanent employee hired before the company became Mobil Oil. He worked there for 23 years and then moved to Moore-McCormick Energy, where he was Senior Vice President of Exploration. Moore-McCormick was bought out by Canadian Occidental, where Digger finished his career. In 1997, he moved to Kerrville.
The natural conclusion is that Digger acquired his nickname in the oil business, but not so! He was a fan of the TV show, “The Life of Riley”. There was a character in the series named Digby “Digger” O’Dell. He was a very funny undertaker and Digger started imitating him for all his family and friends. Naturally, they all started calling him Digger and the name stuck so well that he even had his business cards printed with the name C. D. “Digger” Gray on them.
Digger began playing golf when he was six years old on a 9-hole sand course in Pecos – no grass on the greens. He played with a 5-iron, putter, and driver. He played on a two-man team in high school. Digger loves golf and plays everyday that he can – he plays in the rain, on days in the 30s and on very windy days. Art said Digger convinced him to play one day in a 40-degree drizzle, but he probably won’t be able to do that again.
Art Luppino was born in La Jolla, California and attended the University of Arizona, where he obtained Masters Degrees in Physiology and World Literature. He said they still studied about the human body using “Gray’s Anatomy”. Art spent a lot of time surfing – he surfed in California, Western Samoa, and the island of Yap where he became acquainted with sharks, lots of sharks. He said they were small sharks, but very hungry looking, and that it was probably better to be eaten in one bite by a big shark than nibbled to death by 100 small ones. I can certainly understand why he took up golf.
Art loves the game of golf because it is about the individual and not a team sport. He said golf has a freedom all its own. He can work on his game and improve his skills with his own effort and does not have to rely on others. He likes to challenge himself to play the game better. He enjoys the competitive aspect of playing better than his opponent does.
When I asked Art what the best thing that ever happened to him was, he said, “Marrying Miss Highland Park back in Dallas in 1954.” He said his life has been pretty sweet since then. He started playing golf when he was 50 and loves to play – particularly, with his friend Digger. He truly enjoys beating Digger. Digger and Art play together as often as they can. Digger says that Art is the better golfer, but when we followed them around the Valley course, they both hit the ball extremely well. They are exceptionally good players, but the game for them is all about the friendship. All I heard were comments like, “great shot”, “you got it”, “you are right on”, etc., etc., and oh, those smiles. Lots of smiles and laughter!
I asked them what brought them to Comanche Trace. They both told me they like the leadership at the Club because it is professional and smooth. “There is a boss, he is in charge, and he knows what he is doing”, they both agreed. They also love the condition of the golf course. They had high praise for “Scotty”, who keeps the course in such excellent condition.
Digger and Art change every round of golf by modifying the rules to keep it interesting. After all, it is boring to play by the same rules everyday. Both of these guys are gentlemen. They applaud each other after good shots and keep each other entertained. I have never had the time to take up the game of golf but after watching them play, I would love to learn enough to be able to have that much fun everyday.
In case you are wondering about that cigar in Digger’s mouth, he told me he has had one in his mouth for a long time, but he never lights it.
Thank you, Digger and Art, for a very pleasant afternoon!