At first glance, the 2018 class of the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame looks to be of Biblical proportions.
After all, they inducted a Proffitt and a King.
But, while you won’t find these two legends in the Books of Exodus or Matthew, it would be hard to find two who have made such significant contributions to the game golf on the local scene.
Veteran senior standout Bill Proffitt and incomparable sports writer Randy King became the 50th and 51st members of the Hall at the induction ceremony held November 13th at Roanoke Country Club.
Proffitt, who still yields a sharp pencil as a Certified Public Accountant, can likewise put some impressive numbers on the scorecard, still being able to beat his age of 74 on an 18-hole outing.
Proffitt hit his stride when he joined the local senior ranks, winning six times in the Roanoke Valley’s major tournaments, the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame and the Roanoke Valley Match Play championships. Since turning 55, he has two senior titles and four super senior wins among those two. He’s quick to point out he also took home the Allegheny Amateur crown in 2016. Add to the golfing talent the fact that Proffitt has been the Hall of Fame’s treasurer for over three decades and the choice was as clear as a one-foot tap-in birdie.
“It was really a great honor,” Proffitt said of his induction in a phone interview the day after the RCC event.
Proffitt was an Army brat who took up golf in Hawaii.
“It was 1957 and we lived in Hawaii,” Proffitt recalled. “I was 13 years-old and had mostly played baseball in the summer, but decided to give golf a try. Eventually, I moved back to Roanoke and was enrolled at the first year of Virginia Western Community College on Colonial Avenue. I was taking a break at the old Peoples Drug Store at Towers Mall when I struck up a conversation with a guy about playing golf, so we headed out to Brookside’s Par-3 course on Williamson Rd.”
“I used some loaner clubs and guess I got hooked on the game,” Proffitt noted with a chuckle. “Eventually, I bought a starter set and began playing at Ole Monterey. Then, I got a good job and bought a good set of clubs. I joined Hidden Valley in the late 70s and was able to play more golf, plus I practice a lot. I’ve been fortunate to have good health and things just fell into place.”
“I had some lapses with scoring, but I’ve found my game again. I’m carrying a 4-handicap. I’ll have some high rounds, but still have enough low rounds to keep the handicap low.”
King has been as much a recognized part of the Roanoke golf scene as a cold brewski on a hot July afternoon.
The retired Roanoke Times sports writer has covered everything golf in the Roanoke area and beyond from high school golf tournaments to most recently, the PGAs Military Salute at The Greenbrier.
Make no mistake about it, King’s presence is always known, with his gregarious demeanor and hilarious stories always drawing a crowd of listeners.
He has written about the game for over four decades, getting his start while playing on the Northside High School golf team when the late Bill Brill sent the copy boy out to cover a tournament. Although he’s covered everything from Virginia Tech football and basketball to being a regular at VMI football and basketball, area ice hockey, high school football and the perfect fit for the asphalt wrestling of NASCAR, King’s signature bylines will always fall in golf.
“It was quite an honor,” King said of his induction. “The only problem was they inducted Bill Proffitt first and the emcee started talking about shanks. I had fashioned my speech around shanks, so I had to regroup in a hurry.”
King says two of his greatest moments in sports occurred while covering golf.
“In 1989 and 1990 I covered the Masters. Back in those days we would go to all the big tournaments. The Masters was spectacular. I had a beer in the clubhouse with Greg Norman. I also interviewed Sam Snead at the Greenbrier Resort years ago. We sat there talking one-on-one for two hours.”
Needless to say, King has seen just about everything in the local golf circuits, getting in a jab when the opportunity presented itself.
“In 1998 they had the old Valley Amateur at Ole Monterey,” King recalled. “The final was 36 holes and everything was tied after 36, so they went extra holes. It was already a very long day and things went downhill in a hurry. Bad shots, double bogies, triple bogies, missed putts, you name it. The next day I called it a ‘hack-a-thon’. Boy, I caught some grief over that, but one of the players, Darrell Craft, came to my defense and agreed it was some of the worst golf he’d ever seen.”
King has written some of his best golf stories covering the Scott Robertson Memorial Junior Golf Tournament, interviewing many of the talented young up-and-coming players who went on to PGA and LPGA stardom. He also has been a mainstay in reporting on the Roanoke Valley Women’s Golf Association tournaments for years.
“Those gals are great people and so much fun to be around,” King noted.
But, one of the best stories and mysteries involving Randy and golf was recently confirmed during this interview.
It was dubbed ‘The Great Pilsner Disappearance of Greenbrier County’ years ago. King and yours truly were among a sizable media contingency covering the PGA Greenbrier Classic in 2012, The big story heading into the event was the participation of both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, but things went south when neither made the 36-hole cut. By Sunday’s final round, the leaderboard was log jammed by virtual unknowns.
Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice came to the media center, and to thank the media members who had hung tough, announced that he had instructed the various bars throughout the resort to clean out their coolers and send the beer and ales of every size, brand and description to the media area along with bags and ice for anyone to take home after the tournament’s conclusion.
Unfortunately, the tournament went to sudden death where Ted Potter, Jr., ranked #215 in world rankings, took three holes to defeat Troy Kelly, ranked #464. After the trophy presentation that took place in total darkness, the media flocked back to their center expecting to grab the complimentary booty. But, the doors were locked and the quaff was gone, leaving the masses wondering what had happened.
Days later, a colleague of Randy would only offer a sly smile and ‘no comment’ when suspicions pointed to Randy, who always loved a lager chilled to the appropriate temperature. This week a confession came forth.
“Big Jim (Justice) said ‘take home all you want’, so I did,” King said with a huge laugh. “I went behind the curtain and found a huge Hefty garbage bag and filled it up. I packed it full of a bunch of beer, lagers and imports. Drug it out the front door and somehow got it up on the media shuttle bus going back to the car.”