EDMOND — The Oak Tree logo is one of the most recognizable in golf.
Several factors play into a course built in the 1970s having a first-rate worldwide reputation, but longtime club members concur Bob Tway was one of the most influential factors in Oak Tree’s meteoric rise.
“Bob’s impact on this golf club is immeasurable,” said Scott Verplank, who played at Oklahoma State just after Tway’s college career ended. “Bob is such a great guy that I knew after I finished I wanted to be around him and Willie (Wood). I love Oak Tree and the community we have here. Bob is such a big part of that.”
Because of his ties to the Pete Dye-designed layout 20 miles north of downtown Oklahoma City, Tway will be one of the crowd favorites at the U.S. Senior Open, which begins on Thursday.
“Bob Tway and Oak Tree were synonymous even before Scott Verplank,” said Oak Tree co-owner Everett Dobson. “I don’t think Bob ever thought about changing his address. We’re fairly far south, but there are a lot better places in the winter to prepare for the Tour. That’s how much Bob cares about this club.”
Asked why he became so invested in Oak Tree nearly 35 years ago, Tway provided one of his customary dry sense-of-humor responses before turning serious.
“When people over the years have asked me why I live in Oklahoma, I tell them it sure isn’t because of the weather,” Tway said. “It’s a great golf course, but we’ve lived here because of the people. It’s a great place to raise a family.”
A three-time All-American at OSU, Tway was the first Oak Tree player to enjoy “major” success on the PGA Tour. The pinnacle of his career coincided with Oak Tree’s reputation growing nationally.
Two years before Oak Tree hosted the 1988 PGA Championship, Tway was named the 1986 PGA Player of the Year. He won four times that season, including holing out from a greenside bunker on the final hole to win the 1986 PGA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo.
“I’ve only been part of the ownership group for six years but I’ve been a member here since the mid-’80s,” Dobson said. “Oak Tree was put on the map because of the players carrying that logo around the country. It was a well thought out strategy by the leadership of Landmark that’s still paying dividends today.
“We’ve always had the Oak Tree Gang. We’re thought of a players’ golf course. Those players have represented Oak Tree so well, but no one has represented Oak Tree any better than Bob Tway, one of the classiest men you’ll ever meet.”
Tway was born in Oklahoma City, but during the late 1960s and early ’70s, Tway’s father, then an executive with IBM, moved the family to Missouri and Connecticut before finally settling in Georgia.
A natural athlete, quiet but cerebral, Tway was a quarterback and pitcher growing up, but he always concentrated on golf every summer. After helping lead OSU to the 1978 and 1980 national championships, Tway was honored as the most outstanding player in college golf in 1981.