It’s been a wonderful golfing life for Bill Blankenship – and at age 83 he’s not about to quit.
Blankenship notched the 18th hole-in-one of his career in late November at Comanche Lakes Golf Course. He’s an outspoken man who came from humble beginnings to become an outstanding - although self-taught - golfer.
“I believe in God, and I never drank and never used drugs,” proclaimed Blankenship, who retired in the 1980s after many years in various types of construction work and plumbing. “I’ve had a wonderful life.”
The Fort Worth native now lives in the Rainbow area near the Squaw Valley Golf Course facility, which also includes Comanche Lakes.
He said his lowest score ever was 63 (nine under par), on a course in Fort Worth. He added that he still regularly shoots in the 70s.
He said that about six of the times he shot a hole-in- one were in Somervell County. The rest occurred in Fort Worth, Dallas, New Mexico and Arizona, he said.
Blankenship said he started learning how to play golf at the Rockwood Golf Course in Fort Worth, and now has 65 years of experience on the links.
“They said I was a natural,” Blankenship recalled. “I just looked at it and hit it straight.”
He admits to being a little hyperactive and having a big ego, but said that helped him excel on the links.
“If you think you can do it, you can,” he said.
Blankenship tried to qualify for the U.S. Open a few times in his 20s, but had to focus on making a living for his family.
“There wasn’t any money in it when I wanted to go pro,” Blankenship said, noting that at one time Arnold Palmer earned only $8,000 for winning the Colonial Tournament in Fort Worth. “I had three kids in school, and a business to take care of.”
Blankenship and his wife Karla have been married even longer than he has been a golfer – 66 years. He was 17 when they got hitched.
He first joined the working world at age 11, out of necessity.
“I was raised in the construction business. I know what hungry and cold is,” said Blankenship, who lived in deCordova in Hood County for a couple of years before making Somervell County his home. “I was raised when you had to take care of yourself and stand on your own two feet.”
Blankenship, who even now plays golf two to three times a week, said the key to his success is his mental approach.
“It’s a mental deal. To be good, you’ve got to believe in yourself,” he said. “You never lose the competition factor.”
But in recent years, he said, “It’s all about the fellowship.”