Roy Brown was a real, true-life character. He was also a very good sports writer, especially when it came to golf, and he was an on-again, off-again golfer who at one point seemed to have somewhat mastered the game but at other times had to be introduced to his clubs as if he had never touched one, not his, not anyone’s golf clubs. Roy, with a three-plus syllable pronunciation when he introduced himself (it is pronounced “roh-ee” but Roy said it more like “ro-h-ee”) was at one time a sports writer for The News & Observer, and a damn good one at that. He was mentored by the late Dick Herbert, longtime sports editor, and his fellow sports writer, the late Gerald Martin.
LeRoy, as his friends called him, covered all sports from high school football to college basketball to professional golf. He loved the game of golf so much that when the editors of the newspaper decided to reduce golf coverage (Roy covered the Masters and other tournaments many times), he and a sportswriter at The Charlotte Observer quit their jobs to start Carolinas Golf Reporter, covering golf in North Carolina at nearly every level. Roy moved from Wilson’s Mills NC to his wife’s hometown of Clinton where he learned more than he wanted to know about typesetting, layout, printing and circulating a small newspaper. Roy just wanted to write and tell stories. He was particular good and funny telling yarns about himself and his adventures.
Roy told one about playing golf as his young son tagged along for the ride in the golf cart. It was late in the round, and Roy was not playing so well. He made a terrible swing at the ball in the fairway. It may have been hit fat or a topped shot or a connection that sent the ball right or left to the woods or into a nearby pond. In other words, it was not a good shot at all. He walked to the cart, slammed his club in the golf bag, and jumped into the cart, nearly knocking his son, Jay (who was Roy IV; Roy was III), out of the cart. The two gathered themselves before Roy slammed on the accelerator, knocking Jay backward in the cart. As they rode down the fairway to find the ball, Jay, who was about 6-years old, said, according Roy, “Daddy, was that another one of those f _ _ king shots?”
There’s a true story told by many about a small tantrum Roy had while playing at the Linville Golf Club, a gem of a Donald Ross course in the North Carolina mountains. Roy’s game that day was not particularly satisfying to him or the others in the foursome. He was hitting it to the right nearly every time. In the golf vernacular, Roy had a really bad case of the shanks. On the 15th hole, a par 5 with "Grandmother Creek" running across the fairway and then up the right side, Roy hit several balls into the water, never finishing the hole. On the 16th tee, with that same creek running across the hole directly in front of the tee, Roy proclaimed he would get serious for the last three holes. He teed the ball, gripped his driver, took his stance for what seemed like eternity, and then took a swing. The results were no better as the ball nose-dived into the creek. Without warning, Roy ripped his bag from the golf cart and headed in the direction of where the ball landed. He proceeded to dump his clubs—except for his favorite sand wedge and putter, grabbed by playing partners—into the water. Then he pulled out new, unopened sleeves of golf balls from his bag and released them to the rapidly moving mountain water. Very calmly, Roy returned his empty bag to the cart into which the sand wedge and putter were replaced, climbed in and said, “let’s go" as if nothing had happened.
Everyone in our group was stunned, but we were all laughing and scambling toward the water. The group in the adjoining fairway, the 3rd hole (Donald Ross’ second favorite ever par 4), were stunned as well. As Roy waited in the cart, the seven players along with a few others who were nearby, waded into the water to retrieve every club and as many golf balls as possible, missing those that had quickly moved downstream. When all was back in his bag, Roy simply said, “I wish you hadn’t done that.” He played the last three holes with that sand wedge and putter, paring the 17th and 18th holes, a truly great accomplishment at that.
Roy Jennings Brown III, of 1051 Beulah Road, Clinton NC, died Thursday, June 4, 2015 at Sampson Regional Medical Center. He was 72. He was a character, a real true-life, funny, warm, caring individual who could liven a party in short order. He could tell stories about his life’s adventures that were funnier than most professional comedians' rehearsed routines. And his friends could and will tell endless stories about Roy. He’s another friend that will be missed by many, but he will live in our minds, thoughts and prayers forever.
Note: In recent years, Roy went through some really hard times. For more, read page 2 of the July 2011edition of the News from Coharie, the official newsletter of Roy’s home course, Coharie Country Club in Clinton.
Dictionary.com word of the day
holophrase (noun) [hol-uh-freyz; hoh-luh-freyz] a word functioning as a phrase or sentence, as the imperative Go!