Comment: One last visit | Opinion

DALLAS — Word of Terry Lowry’s death came early Saturday morning as I prepared to host my weekly wave radio show. It was expected yet sad to lose a friend, a high school classmate and a fellow golfer.

Terry was like many boys growing up at the Willow Brook Country Club at the time. He was a good golfer who knew the rules and etiquette of the game. He was part of a large group that included his twin brother Kerry, Don Robert Johnson and close friend Mark Triggs. They competed in junior golf in the 1960s under the direction of club professional Ralph Morgan.

In recent years, Terry has been part of the “Geezer Tour” which now sadly seems to be declining periodically with the loss of a member like Craig Bivins of Longview in 2020. But we’re happy to keep fighting because golf really is a game of your life.

The Geezer Tour gathered at the Garden Valley Resort the first weekend of November and Terry was in everyone’s heart and mind. We knew he was entering the final stages of his more than two-year battle with cancer. He rested at his nearby Lake Park home with his wife of 34, Elizabeth Wiley, who cared for him.

At our annual classic car tournament, now called the Bivco Memorial GTO, we gave away many prizes at the end of the game. But I’ve tucked away a special one that was brought to East Texas by good friend Cept Harden from Georgia. I was hoping to deliver it to Lowry a week later if possible. I called Elizabeth and after talking to Terry she said to come. It would be my last visit to Terry.

Our visit was an emotional time, especially when I asked Terry about his father, who was an oil and gas attorney in Tyler for many years and a member of Willow Brook.

“Actually, I never had a lesson from Ralph Morgan, but learned by watching my father,” Terry said. “He was left-handed and not a great golfer, but I learned a lot from him.”

I gave Terry a special 2020 Masters cap in Masters green and Elizabeth a nice Garden Valley red cap. Then we talked about the greatest gift of all, the gift of eternal life. I recited the gospel and was delighted when Terry said that his mother had always told him about Jesus and that he trusted Him during this most difficult time. There was a quiet moment as we reflected on the hope we have for the future.

Terry lay comfortably and seemed to enjoy the visit as we mainly talked golf with a PGA Tour Champion event live from Phoenix serving as a beautiful backdrop on the giant television. We marveled at Phil Mickelson and Bernhard Langer who are still going strong at their age, especially the timeless and amazing Langer.

I started asking Terry about his golf days with Mark Triggs at the Margaritaville partnership which has been such a big tournament at The Cascades over the years.

“We won our flight and the shoot-out for a year,” Terry said.

The shootout was an extra competition limited to only the winning teams in each flight. With Terry putting his long putter and Triggs left handed, they made their fair share of putts. I remember watching Terry swing in those years and was impressed by his compact bend and resulting low and tight draw off the tee.

It seems that Terry and Triggs reconnected around 2000 because they were both in Houston and in the oil business and so started playing regularly in tournaments together.

“When I started playing with Mark a lot, I had to improve my game and work on it,” said Terry. “I didn’t want to hold him back and I’ve really improved.”

The strategy for Terry and Mark in the two-man scramble formats was simple.

“I always hit first so if I could get my drive into the game, Mark could bring it out. It seemed to work really well that year,” said Terry.

Thanks to the convenience of Tyler newspaper digital records, I was able to verify that special tournament for Terry and Triggs in 2005. They did indeed win their first flight with a total of 188.25 under par for three rounds and one better than the winners of the championship flight that year — Jacky Lee and Randy Huffstickler.

“That was a very special time for me because we worked so well together and were very competitive,” Triggs said on the phone from Houston. “Tee Low was the steady Eddie man and that helped me play better. Terry was mentally strong and with his wife in front of a one-man gallery it was a lot of fun.”

Later, in December 2005, Terry accomplished the rare feat of a double eagle 2 on the par 5 eighth hole in The Cascades. It was attended by Mark Shuttlesworth, Dan Elbert and Mike McKie.

Terry’s luck at The Cascades continued in 2006 when he hit a hole-in-one on the 16th hole of par 3, witnessed by Mark Triggs, Byron Triggs, Billy Gammill and Tom Wiley. Even happier times for Terry at The Cascades were the weekly “Jack and Jill” tournaments as he teamed up with Elizabeth to do quite well. A good golfer herself, Elizabeth played in our GTO tournament with Terry in November 2018, less than a year before he was diagnosed with cancer.

More than his golf, Terry’s grit impressed me in his final years. Even with his cancer, he was at Bivins’ grave in Longview in the spring of 2020 during the height of the COVID outbreak. And when we were on Lee’s golf team, Terry showed athleticism in the way he handled the disappointment of not playing in many tournaments. He signed up for the Green Acres bowling alley, where he became hard to beat on the billiard table.

As I get older and feel the end coming, I look forward to seeing loved ones in heaven. I pray there’s golf in heaven so that Terry might play with his dad again and maybe even The Bivco.

Just that thought brings a smile when we remember our friend Tee Low.

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