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Bobby Bowden’s pastime forged lifelong friendships

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 11:25 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In Gadsden County, far away from Doak Campbell Stadium and decades of football glory, Bobby Bowden found solace at the Golf Club of Quincy.

In typical Bowden fashion, he found a circle of golfing buddies and tee’d off.

It seemed Bowden never came across a golf course he didn’t want to try, and this rural retreat north of Quincy seemed to be special to the college football legend.

Late Monday afternoon at the Golf Club of Quincy, General manager Ben Duncan traveled down the same winding cart paths that Bowden did off and on for decades.

Those who played with him say Bowden came to the course thanks to Gene McDowell, a former Florida State assistant and longtime UCF head football coach. Duncan says in the 80s, the course was normally closed on Monday. But not for Bowden.

“He would leave a cart out for Bobby and put a sandwich and a drink in there for him, and Bobby had the whole course to himself and he could get away from the pressures,” McDowell said.

But Bowden wouldn’t always play alone, forming lasting friendships with folks like Charlie Macon.

The lifelong Gadsden County resident is 96 and still hits the links three times a week.

“I’m older than he is, but I’ve idolized that man the whole time,” Macon said. “He is a perfect gentleman, he never meets a stranger.”

Friendly to all, on the course or in the clubhouse.

“He never turned anyone down for anything. The most gracious man,” Macon continued.

Les Jones was also a Bowden-foursome regular.

“When he played golf, he didn’t get excited or mad because he didn’t hit a good shot,” Jones said. “He just played the game.”

But he did get excited on March 14, 2016 on the par-three 12th hole: One swing from the tee and a ball landing in the hole.

“We all just jumped and shouted, it just tickled us to death, and no one we rather see do it than him,” Macon recalled.

A month later, Bowden talked with WCTV at a charity golf tournament about the moment.

“I practically hit a driver on par three. It went in the hole buddy, that’s all that counts,” he said.

The scorecard from that day is now a memento for the course, in Duncan’s office.

Bowden was never an official member at the Golf Club of Quincy, but he was treated like one, and everyone in his circle was better for it.

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