DALLAS — Word of Terry Lowry’s death came early Saturday morning as I was preparing to host my weekly golf radio show. It was expected but still sad to lose a friend, a high school classmate and a fellow golfer.
Terry was like a lot of guys who grew up at Willow Brook Country Club back in the day. He was a good golfer who knew the rules and etiquette of the game. He was part of a large group that included his twin brother Kerry, Don Robert Johnson and close friend Mark Triggs. They participated in junior golf during the 1960s under the guidance of club professional Ralph Morgan.
In recent years, Terry was part of the “Geezer Tour” which sadly seems to diminish periodically now with the loss of a member like Craig Bivins of Longview in 2020. But we joyfully soldier on as golf is truly a game of a lifetime.
The Geezer Tour gathered at Garden Valley Resort the first weekend of November and Terry was on everyone’s heart and mind. We knew he was entering the final stages of his two-plus years battle with cancer. He was resting at his nearby home on Lake Park with his wife of 34 years, Elizabeth Wiley, caring for him.
At our annual old-timers tournament, now named the Bivco Memorial GTO, we gave away lots of prizes at the conclusion of play. But I tucked away a special one brought to East Texas from Georgia by good friend Cept Harden. I hoped to deliver it to Lowry a week later if possible. I called Elizabeth and after she conferred with Terry, she said to come on. It would be my final visit with Terry.
Our visit was an emotional time, especially when I asked Terry about his father, who was an oil and gas attorney in Tyler for many years and a member of Willow Brook.
“Actually, I never had a lesson from Ralph Morgan but learned by watching my dad,” Terry said. “He was left-handed and not a great golfer but I learned a lot from him.”
I gave Terry a special 2020 Masters cap in Masters green and Elizabeth a pretty red cap from Garden Valley. Then we talked about the greatest gift of all, the gift of eternal life. I recited the Gospel and was delighted when Terry said his mother had always told him about Jesus and that he was trusting in Him at this most difficult time. There was a quiet moment as we pondered the hope we have for the future.
Resting comfortably, Terry seemed to enjoy the visit as we chatted mainly about golf with a PGA Tour Champion event live from Phoenix serving as a beautiful backdrop on the giant screen television. We marveled at Phil Mickelson and Bernhard Langer still going strong at their ages, especially the timeless and amazing Langer.
I began to ask Terry about his golfing days with Mark Triggs at the Margaritaville partnership that has been such a big tourney at The Cascades through the years.
“We won our flight and the shoot-out one year,” Terry said.
The shootout was an added competition limited to just the winning teams in each flight. With Terry putting with his long putter and Triggs left-handed, they made their share of putts. I remember watching Terry swing during those years and was impressed with his compact turn and a resulting low and tight draw off the tee.
It seems Terry and Triggs reconnected around 2000 because both were in Houston and in the oil business and thus began to play together regularly in tournaments.
“Once I started playing with Mark a lot, I had to up my game and began to work on it,” Terry said. “I didn’t want to hold him back and I really improved.”
The strategy for Terry and Mark in the two-man scramble formats was simple.
“I always hit first so that if I could get my drive into play, then Mark could let it out. It seemed to work really well that year,” Terry said.
Thanks now to the convenience of digital archives from the Tyler paper, I was able to verify that special tourney for Terry and Triggs in 2005. Indeed, they won their first flight with a 188 total, 25-under par for three rounds and one better than the winners of the championship flight that year — Jacky Lee and Randy Huffstickler.
“That was a very special time for me because we partnered so well and were very competitive,” Triggs said over the phone from Houston. “Tee Low was the steady Eddie guy and that helped me play better. Terry was strong mentally and having his wife along for a one-person gallery made it a lot of fun.”
Later, in December of 2005, Terry accomplished the rare feat of a double-eagle 2 on the par 5 eight hole at The Cascades. It was witnessed by Mark Shuttlesworth, Dan Elbert and Mike McKie.
Terry’s good fortunes at The Cascades continued in 2006 when he made a hole-in-one on the par 3 16th hole witnessed by Mark Triggs, Byron Triggs, Billy Gammill and Tom Wiley. Even happier times for Terry at The Cascades were the weekly “Jack and Jill” tournaments when he partnered with Elizabeth to fare quite well. Elizabeth is a good golfer in her own right and played in our GTO tournament with Terry in November of 2018, less than a year before he was diagnosed with cancer.
More than his golf, I became impressed with Terry’s grit in his final years. Even with his cancer, he was at Bivins’ graveside services in Longview during the height of the COVID outbreak that spring of 2020. And when we were on the golf team at Lee, Terry showed good sportsmanship by the way he handled the disappointment of not getting to play in many tournaments. He matriculated to Green Acres bowling alley where he became hard to beat on the billiards table.
As I get older and sense the end coming around the bend, I look forward to seeing loved ones in heaven. I pray there is golf in heaven so that perhaps Terry is playing again with his father and maybe even The Bivco.
Just that thought brings a smile as we remember our friend Tee Low.