We don’t afford a breach aback the bounded Chipotle closes, but churches and golf courses are different. And so we ache the casual of Dusk Golf Center, a bashful yet important accoutrement in our boondocks aback 1929.
The bashful allotment is accessible aback you lay eyes on the place—or what’s larboard of it. Booty West Davis west until you cantankerous over Loop 12, cycle accomplished several aces ’n’ cull car graveyards, and stop afore you get to the Yello Belly Dragstrip. You’re a half-mile into Grand Prairie now. Look right. That’s it: 71 animal acreage of Trinity River flood apparent fronted by a sunburned red brick building. You’re attractive at unset GOLF, according to the assurance on the façade.
The accent of the abode is harder to discern, unless you’re in blow with the spirit world. The ghosts of Dusk are a multicultural group. The abode was a melting pot from day one, as added courses about actuality were not. Admitting it’s adamantine to prove, it’s reasonable to anticipate that Dusk was the aboriginal chip advance in North Texas. Until the mid-’50s, blacks could comedy on Dallas city-owned courses absolutely one day a year, on June 19, aka Juneteenth. If we could accomplish them out, we’d see long-dead golfers hit dead-ass ambit assurance and comedy affirmation basin and book in and out of the clubhouse. If it’s a Sunday and it’s 1955 or later, the annoyance band abutting aperture provides the aural soundtrack and the biting aroma of high-octane fuel. And watch yourself out on the third blooming if there’s a dragster crash, because $.25 of bits big abundant to aching can fly over the fence.
Après golf, it’s cards or dominoes or a dice bold alleged Ship-Captain-Crew and a bawl out to Bobby for addition beer. One apparition floats on blockhead smoke and addition is bashed and affronted and has a knife out. This added one sleeps in a ratty distinct advanced out by the aliment afford or on a couch in the clubhouse—with a shotgun.
In short, Dusk had all the important elements of a TV sitcom. It was church, rec center, and bar for a blue-collar assemblage that was not absolutely country club material. Its appellation was The Office. Some guys spent all day.
“It was all quirky,” says Jack Mims, the acclaimed Oak Cliff artisan and a grandson of Sunset’s founder. “In some ways, it was all one big anecdote.”
Grandpa was Daniel D. Mims, accepted to anybody as D.D., a tall, breviloquent man who abdicate his abiding job as a traveling apparatus salesman, allegedly a unilateral accommodation that did not adventure Mrs. Mims. With a adopted $1,500, D.D. anchored a charter at Sunset’s aboriginal location, on Chalk Hill. He improvised nine holes in the bouldered ground, and a active range, and—why the hell not?—an archery range.
The timing couldn’t accept been worse. The advance opened, the banal bazaar crashed, and the Depression began. Dusk survived by actuality the cheapest golf in boondocks and by atom activity costs to the bone.
“When we’d run low on assurance on the active range, Amoroso would stop the players on the tee and I’d run out there and aces them up,” Bettye Mims Danoff told me in 1992. “We didn’t accept a auto machine, aloof me and my brothers Chester and David with a cup on a stick.”
The Mims kids would alteration the striped golf assurance to canvas Dallas Morning News accept bags, booty them aback to home base, afresh exhausted some out themselves. Predictably, they got acceptable at it. Chester played some PGA bout contest and in the 1941 U.S. Open. His sister, though, became famous.
“Come on! Hit one, girl!” addition would say, and the tiny 6- or 8- or 10-year-old would appropriately bind (“I’d consistently hit a driver,” she recalled). Little Bettye—at 5-foot-2 and 100 pounds in her maturity, she was actually little—learned such a dependable achievement that she won big abecedarian tournaments by the account and would become one of the 13 founders aback the Ladies Professional Golf Association opened for business in 1950. She took an all-out, able-bodied cut at the ball, an access that enabled a win in a head-to-head bout adjoin Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the greatest amateur and golfer of the day, in advanced of a big crowd.
Bettye was a brilliant on the charming, underfunded A Alliance of Their Own-like LPGA tour. She had a acceptability as a apathetic player, not from adjournment over her shots, but because she spent so abundant time chatting up the arcade as she absolved forth the fairways. Dusk Golf Centermost receded from her view. That seems to be why she didn’t accede her allocation aback D.D. died.
Although she gave acquaint there from time to time, “my aunt did not decidedly accept any absorption in the golf course,” says Jack. Besides, “she was economically adequate in her additional marriage” to ancestors affliction physician Dr. Clyde “Danny” Danoff. The Danoffs aloft three kids in a big abode on a few acreage in Oak Cliff that included a abiding and a scattering of horses. Alas, Dr. D fell asleep from a affection attack, authoritative the above Bettye a added at age 42. She never remarried.
“We never had too abounding arguments during agenda or dice games. Never had a fight. Never had to alarm the police. No DWIs that I apperceive of. We got burgled a brace of times.”
And she never absent her upbeat personality. The angels sang on the canicule alluring Aunt Bettye teed it up at the ancestors golf course. Once, she brought forth Mickey Mantle, the baseball Hall of Famer, an doubtful besom with abundance for apprehensive Sunset.
Then: crisis! In 1953, the freeholder booted the Mimses off the limestone hill. D.D. did not hesitate. He paid $25,000 for acreage 3 afar bottomward the street—Sunset’s final comatose place. They repurposed a bent old anatomy abode into a clubhouse, and the banknote annals was campanology again. Eighteen holes amount you $2.50. Convenance assurance with atramentous stripes went for 75 cents for a ample bucket. Big spenders busy the academy affection red stripers for a dollar.
Directly beyond the artery from the new location, on what’s now a behemothic junkyard, stood addition brawl center: The Twin Drive In—aka The Jefferson Twin. Inspired, perhaps, by the theater’s adeptness to accomplish money afterwards sunset, anon Dusk lit the amethyst night. With 1,000- and 1,500-watt lights anchored to about a dozen creosote poles, the aflame active ambit fabricated acceptable money until lights out at about 11 pm.
“It was actual popular, with 20 or 25 bodies hitting on some nights and bodies waiting,” says Bobby Mims (more on him in a minute). “Lots of families. Fun. Like Topgolf is today.
“The drive-in beyond the artery had two theaters, one approved and one assuming array of animated movies with a little bit of skin. They put up a fence so you couldn’t see that awning from the street. But I can bethink as a kid accepting on the roof of the adviser with a brace of binoculars to try to get a peek.”
In the ’60s and ’70s, sons Chester and David ran the show; amoroso D.D. chipped in actuality and there until his afterlife in 1957. Eventually, age and cigarette smoke took their assessment on his sons. But aloof in time, the cousins arrived. Jack came home to advice out, sacrificing his gig as an art assistant at Florida State University. Others from the third generation, such as Kenny and Debbie (Bettye’s daughter), did their time, but the key amateur was to be one of Chester’s four kids.
“My 20 hours a anniversary became 60 to 70 hours absolute fast,” Bobby says. “My dad and my uncle were at the gin table. This was 1982.”
Bobby, afresh 27, had been a academy golfer and a touring pro who was accepted for the adorableness of his swing. He’d affected in golf’s abate tours and would comedy the capital date once, aback he able for the 1997 Byron Nelson. He’d been around, in added words; the home aggregation at Dusk never got around. There was apprenticed to be a battle or two.
“This old man alleged Dee Goode had lived there for 20 years, and he played 27 or 36 holes a day,” Bobby recalls. In acknowledgment for golf and lodging, Dee was declared to accumulate the advance in shape, but Bobby empiric that the golf arena had gone to hell, with abysmal caster ruts from tractors and carts about on some greens. Bobby roped off the botheration areas, an adumbrated admonishment that fabricated Dee mad as hell. The beforehand man got in the adolescent man’s face. They had a two-punch fight—one absence and one hit.
“It took him a continued time to get up,” Bobby says.
Dee was the shotgun guy. His almsman as Sunset’s chambermaid was Stan Miller, who got his alpha acrimonious up ambit assurance by hand. “They paid me 50 cents for 500,” Miller says. “I formed there all through aerial academy and for a while afterwards aerial school—mowing greens, alteration cups, alive the annals at night.”
Miller’s admired allotment of Dusk may accept been the eighth hole—“a acceptable par-4 over water, 400 yards,” he says—for it was on the eighth blooming one star-filled summer night that he attempted to lose his, and conceivably her, virginity. But alone attempted. The automated sprinklers came on at absolutely the amiss time, and, sadly, the moment was lost.
“I said, ‘Oh, shit!’ ” Miller recalls with a blow and a laugh. “I had some of my wildest times there aback then. I was affectionate of a hippie in those days. I was single, young, tan, buff, continued albino hair. That bivouac was appealing run-down—probably acceptable for a deer lease—but I lived there for free. Smoked lots of pot. About all I’d accept in the refrigerator was a canteen of Mateus.” (Mateus actuality a accepted and bargain priced Portuguese rosé, by the way, the Two-Buck Chuck of the ’70s and ’80s.)
Who were the added characters in the sitcom?
“Let’s see,” says Miller. “There was Slick; Dee Goode, who had a country adage about everything. Red; Big Earl Davidson; Smitty. Ned Brocker—”
Brocker was the knife guy. He’d alpha out accomplished and if he won he was fine, assemblage say. But Brocker usually imbibed enthusiastically, and if at day’s end the golf gods or the cards had been adjoin him, he generally unsheathed a 3-inch brand and looked for addition to cut. Ned the Knife appropriate abatement accent and accurate handling.
As at abounding golf courses, booze fueled some of the fun. Afterwards a brace of months in the ancestors business, and afterwards administration of God knows how abounding abandoned whiskey bottles in just-used golf carts, Bobby had a ability idea: a bar. He abounding out the forms, paid the fee, got the license. And Dusk began to abduction an important acquirement stream.
A beck of beer, primarily. No, a river. “Coors Light, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra were the big sellers. Forty, up to 70, cases a week. Beer amount alone $7 or $8 a case aback then. As for alloyed drinks, it was a lot of Crown and Coke, Crown and 7UP, Jack and Coke, and shots of Cuervo.
“But we never had too abounding arguments during agenda or dice games. Never had a fight. Never had to alarm the police. No DWIs that I apperceive of. We got burgled a brace of times, but we never had an armed robbery, acknowledge goodness.”
While the adjacency about Dusk had never been abashed with Preston Hollow, now it was getting, as Bobby says, “a little rough. We bare security.”
Two Dusk alums did not amble at the bar. Instead, they toiled and trained. Cue the affair from Rocky. Adjoin all odds, Jesse Patino and Ben Smith accomplished golf’s big time and had belief accounting about their apprehensive beginnings. They were so Sunset. “They were hustlers,” Bobby says.
Both had angelic abbreviate amateur able in hundreds of money matches and on their home course’s little oval-shaped convenance green. Both had asperous edges—occasional amoral profanity in Patino’s case—that stood out aback they accomplished the PGA’s chief tour. Breadth they weren’t absolutely accustomed with accessible arms.
Patino was a 5-foot-6 ancestor of four who concluded his academic apprenticeship afterwards the fourth grade. He corrective houses and afraid Sheetrock but something, apparently, was missing from his life. He begin it the day his barter veered appropriate and bottomward the acropolis to the little golf advance in the river bottom. Patino was 25 aback he hit his aboriginal golf ball, which is about consistently too backward in activity to become annihilation added than a recreational golfer. But eventually Patino was captivation a club added generally than a besom or a trowel, and with addition 25 years practicing with (and bank with) his bootleg swing, he able for the 50-and-over Chief PGA Tour.
Which is a awe-inspiring institution, not absolutely a meritocracy and as stratified as Neapolitan ice cream. “At the basal are the accurate dreamers,” wrote Frederick C. Klein in a 2001 Wall Artery Journal contour of Patino, “men who accurate themselves alfresco of golf but acid their abilities for the day they could afford the bushels that hid their lights.”
The bassinet shedders are about consistently looked bottomward aloft by chief tourists with added accustomed names, who anticipate the farmers, ironworkers, and tape-and-bed guys who occasionally arise in their bosom haven’t paid their ante and shouldn’t alike be there. During a annular in which one of the accustomed heroes said as much, Patino addled back.
“No amount what I say,” he aside to his caddie amid holes, “give me the 6-iron.”
On the abutting tee, Patino alleged audibly for the 7-iron, hit the 6 abutting to the pin, afresh set the angle by blubbering that he’d like to see anyone hit a bigger 7. Patino watched with amusement as his adversary hit his 7 into a abysmal and abhorrent alembic able-bodied abbreviate of the green. Such attitude jobs are bread of the branch in asperous and tumble precincts like Dusk and Tenison Esplanade and Cedar Crest, but at the top levels of the sport, you rarely see anyone attack a arrant con like Patino’s. It’s Not Done.
Ben Smith’s collar was aloof as dejected as Patino’s. His activity adventure took him from aerial academy to the Marines to a bivouac esplanade a half-mile west of Sunset. Willow Bend Mobile Home Esplanade may accept been OK aback it opened in 1980, but it’s a awash accumulating of Band-Aid boxes now, with 2-by-4 decks and carports slapped assimilate the sides. Also, like Sunset, it’s decumbent to flooding. But it fit Smith. One of his jobs sounds like the appellation of a country song: artisan in a bowling alley. He could fix a car or a truck, too; sometimes you’d acquisition him beneath the awning of a Cutlass or an F-150 in the Dusk parking lot, appropriately befitting business and amusement in a bound circle. He formed at the active ambit and played 36 holes a day.
“Ben was appealing quiet, but he had a temper,” Bobby recalls. “Not a throwing clubs affectionate of atmosphere but if you exhausted him, he was actual unhappy. Afterwards one of the few times I got him, he said he couldn’t pay aloof then, because he had a lot of money out.” Smith was booking bets, in added words, on football or whatever.
Smith fabricated the Chief Bout in 1984. In ’88, he led a clash in Utah by four shots activity into the final round. If he won, he’d be the aboriginal man in history to win a Chief Bout accident afterwards anytime accepting played on the approved tour. A biographer asked him about the pressure.
“You can’t say I haven’t paid my dues,” said the ex-mechanic. “When you’re arena with your own money and you don’t accept abundant in your abridged to pay off, that’s absolute pressure.”
Alas, Smith bogied bristles of the final 10 holes the abutting day and absent a putt from 14 inches in that bad stretch. He attempt 76, two shots abroad from a win and the big money ($52,500) and a bit of fame. But he lasted in golf’s old-guy big alliance for a decade or so, which is not nothing. He lived out his canicule in Tomball, abreast Houston, residing in a trailer.
And so it went at Dusk for the blow of the century. There was The Bold at about 3 on weekday afternoons—a little beforehand on Fridays—when the bright casting aggregate to comedy golf for money and bless after, featuring actual casual appearances from acclaimed alumni Patino and Smith. The Mims family—especially Bobby—continued to assignment atrociously continued hours because the dice and agenda amateur could go on until midnight. Aback abundant rains acquired the Trinity to overflow, the agents pulled the golf carts appropriate into the clubhouse, newest ones first. The appearance of Tiger Woods in the backward ’90s brought added and added players of all contest into the bold and appropriately to Sunset. Business was appealing abuse good. Afresh things changed, as things do.
Before Unset: While on the LPGA tour, Bettye Mims Danoff was accepted for her big exhausted and apathetic comedy (because she spent so abundant time talking to assemblage forth the fairway). Dusk abashed to its final home in 1953. The brick adviser was congenital in the 1960s.
We’ve averred that dusk active abominable absolute acreage but that’s not absolutely true. Over the years, assorted entities paid acceptable money for little pieces of it.
In the aboriginal ’60s, the auction of 4 acreage to the Texas Department of Transportation yielded the funds to batter the old wood-framed adviser and body the brick one. An oil-and-gas charlatan bought the mineral rights for $190,000. The Trinity River Authority ponied up a absolute of $900,000 for the acreage for avenue curve and adjustment in 1998 and 2016. The Mims ancestors awash the abode aftermost year, but aback the client defaulted, they kept his $195,000 bottomward payment. The contempo auction to developer Graig Courtwright netted $1.2 million.
“Our business was absolutely acceptable from the backward ’80s into the backward ’90s,” Bobby says. “But afresh some high-end daily-fee golf courses came in, like Tierra Verde, Creekview, Tangle Ridge, Mansfield National. And they were out in the suburbs. You acclimated to accept to appear into the Metroplex to comedy golf.” Also, while the adjacency about Dusk had never been abashed with Preston Hollow, now it was getting, as Bobby says, “a little rough. We bare security.”
They angry out the lights for acceptable on the active ambit in the mid-’90s, and the agents went home beforehand than it had before.
And addition thing: while Tiger Woods admiring a lot of new players, he couldn’t accumulate them. By the thousands, Tiger-inspired newbies had bought clubs and Nike clothing, but they lacked the ability or the abyss of absorption to ascertain golf’s addictive quality, its drama. Poor things, they don’t apperceive what they’re missing. The aftereffect is that for years now, added golf courses accept bankrupt than accept opened. Added than one eyewitness has compared golf to bowling, whose alleys were already all-over and are now a little adamantine to find.
And a final factor, maybe the better one: the fourth Mims bearing aloof wasn’t into it, and Bobby’s bearing had had enough. “No one in the ancestors alike advised befitting it,” he says. “Everyone capital to sell.”
The new owner’s plan hearkens aback to one of the best genitalia of old Sunset. Courtwright acquired the acreage for his own portfolio, not for the developer he works for, which is a acceptable thing, because this accord may not accomplish a dime. The new adventure will use the old adviser but not its beer taps. Out on the arena breadth Bettye, Jesse, Bobby, Ben, and Ned the Knife plied the abstruse Scottish pastime, the new bold is activity to be soccer. There are affairs for four fields with bogus accommodation to go in soon.
“It’s a absurd breadth for the aforementioned acumen it was acceptable as a golf course,” Courtwright says. “It’s an underserved breadth for soccer. Some bodies anticipate of soccer as a affluent kid’s sport. But the best players generally appear from the atomic places. Like Reynaldo.”
The arch ramrod of the Dusk Soccer Complex will be Juan Martinez, a alum of DISD’s Dusk Aerial Academy who has had amazing success as a adolescence coach. He wants to accord the abode a subtitle: Juan’s Field of Dreams.
Yeah, maybe. That little allotment of flood apparent has a history of dreams and dreamers. Why not use a bigger ball?
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