Bob Goetz, a teammate of Ab Justice's at Oklahoma State in the 1950s, recalled the time the two lifelong friends played a round with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer at the 1968 PGA Team Championship at Quail Creek and Twin Hills.
“On the putting green Ab said, ‘I don't know if I can do it,'” Goetz said. “I said, ‘Do what?' Ab said: ‘Hit the ball off the first tee. I'm already shaking.'”
A towering figure in Oklahoma golf, Donald “Ab” Justice died earlier this week at age 79. Oklahoma State's first All-American golfer, a seven-time club champion at Oak Tree National, Justice owns eight course records.
As for that round with two of golf's greatest legends, Goetz and Justice fared just fine. They matched Nicklaus and Palmer with a best-ball 67 to finish in the top 10.
“There were probably 10,000 people there,” Goetz said. “There were a lot of great golfers in the field, but most people were there to see Jack and Arnie so we had a huge gallery. There were people everywhere.
“After four holes we were already 3-under. I remember Jack turning to Arnie and saying, ‘I don't get these two guys. One of them putts with his tongue out and the other putts cross-handed and they're already up on us three shots.' We had a great time.”
Justice always had a great time. Sometimes compared to Oklahoma folk legend Will Rogers, Justice was one of the most popular golfers in the Oklahoma City area.
“Will Rogers is a great comparison,” said Alsie Hyden, a lifelong friend and director of golf at Lake Hefner Golf Course. “He'd always extend that hand and start talking, a very outgoing individual. So many people felt close to him because he had that type of personality.”
Justice learned to play golf at the now-defunct Capitol Hill Golf Course in Oklahoma City, the course his parents ran, the course Orville Moody learned to play. Justice attended Capitol Hill High School before playing at OSU.
At OSU, under coach Labron Harris, Justice, Goetz and Hyden were part of Cowboys teams that dominated.