- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

PORT NECHES, Texas (AP) - Have a seat at the bar beneath the lobster buoy lights and order yourself a “Groves Pea Patch Pale Ale” - this is a story about golf and Port Neches.

The Beaumont Enterprise (https://bit.ly/2gyORUg ) reports there’s the bar owner, Tyler Blount, 32. He named this ale after the golf club that closed to become a gated community back in 2014.

Blount’s not much of a golfer - he plays a few rounds at Babe Zaharias every now and again - but since he opened Neches Brewing Co. two months ago, he’s wanted to tie into Port Neches’ history.

That’s what led him to these six putters here in the back corner. Each one is home-crafted with a wooden shaft and a bronze toe with the words “Jimmy Flowers, Port Neches, TX” engraved at the bottom.

Flowers, who died in 1987, moved to a house on Heisler Street in the early 1930s and began the hobby of making his own putters in the garage.

From 1933 to 1987, Flowers made more than 35,000 putters, and according to Jimmy Flowers Jr., 87, they were used by Babe Zaharias, Ben Hogan and Dwight Eisenhower.

A Jimmy Flowers putter is on display in the Beaumont museum dedicated to Zaharias, who won the 1947 British Ladies’ Amateur Championship.

Blount has collected his putters over the past two years on eBay, spending $120 total. In the ‘50s, each putter would have cost $25 each - around $300 today.

Blount says “one was in my golf bag until a few months ago. I first took it golfing with my buddies at Babe Zaharias, and I couldn’t miss. I was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’”

That was the reaction Flowers always strove for.

Flowers Jr. and his brother Tommy, 77, grew up helping his father make the putters, and Flowers Jr. now lives in a house in Beaumont, where dozens of putters are lined in his garage.

“Dad made the molds heavy for balance,” Flowers Jr. says now. “Then he’d take them to a place in Beaumont and cast them in bronze. It gave it that shiny look. We’d make maybe 25 or 30, and he and mother would go on a vacation, and he’d visit a golf course and sell it to golf pros.”

Local golfers still remember his putters.

Ed Campbell, manager of Babe Zaharias golf course, says he loved them: “I sold them back when I worked at Piney Woods (Country Club). They had a lot of eye appeal. He put a lot of color in them. That was real different than what people were doing at the time.”

Flowers Jr. remembers when he would come home from college to work with his father during the summers, and the hobby couldn’t escape him.

“Me, my dad and the other people we worked with would be driving up to the Texaco refinery, and Dad would be in the back in his suit, whittling at a wooden model,” Flowers says.

Blount can relate. Brewing beer was a hobby he started in his parents’ house while in college. He and a friend tried brewing a New Castle clone, and it took a month before they could bottle it.

“It was bad,” Blount says. “We drank it all, but it took us several years to figure it out. It’s a hobby, something I love doing, and I now get a chance to make a living out of it.”

So here the clubs sit, in the corner for now, until Blount builds the proper display.

“I want people to be able to hold it, and try it,” says Blount, who toys with the idea of customers putt for a free round. “The whole thing is that it says Port Neches. I want to embrace the community here, and the fact that someone lived here and made these is pretty cool.”

Flowers Jr. has yet to visit this brewery, but he smiles when he hears his family’s putters are on display.

“It’s definitely something to look back on,” he says.


Information from: The Beaumont Enterprise, https://beaumontenterprise.com

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