Hal ‘Pappy’ Nenninger by Candace Kehoe
During his life, Hal Nenninger was always interested in teaching children and young adults the game of golf. He taught all of his children how to play and his wife also learned from him. He was also interested in education. Even though he dropped out of school in junior high, he later realized the need for a good education and finished his GED requirements. He also completed Officers Candidate School and became a Lieutenant Colonel in the armed forces.
The Hal Nenninger Memorial Scholarship was instituted in 1996 for Cloudcroft High School students. This $500 scholarship is given to one person in the graduating senior class. Students applying are required to submit an essay containing these criteria: academic achievement, citizenship, work/volunteer experience, community service, goals for the future, experience in golf, financial needs, field of study, honors and awards, and other scholarships. All applicants are considered even if they have never played golf. The first year’s recipient had never played traditional golf…but sure enjoyed "putt-putt"
. Harold Nenninger started his golf career as a caddie on the Tulsa Country Club course and even learned to repair and build clubs as all early apprentices in the golf profession did. He went on to build clubs and work for Walter Hagen. He later became a Half Century member of the PGA receiving his 50 year pin in 1987. Hal quit school to go full time into golf when he was in junior high school. He did very well for himself and excelled in his sport, winning many amateur and pro events as a young man. In 1925 he started his pro career at Kennedy golf course in Tulsa. After six years he got the urge to see the world, at least the east, and followed a head pro, Clarence Clark, to Forest Hills Field Club in Bloomfield, NJ for three years before going back to Tulsa to be the head pro at Mohawk golf course. His tenure there lasted until he was the first Oklahoma Golf Professional to enter the armed services of his country in the Second World War. He was the playing coach for the eighth army golf team and took that team from Japan to Hawaii where they won every trophy in the All-Pacific Tournament. In 1942 he married Lou Nenninger. He finished his GED requirements and went on to get a two-year College equivalency and completed Officers Candidate School.
After his 21-year tour of duty, Hal retired to the warm southwest desert in El Paso. A year later he was hired by The Lodge as their Golf Professional. He spent 7years on active duty with The Lodge and then retired a second time to give his time on a voluntary basis. During his tenure with The Lodge, Hal ("Pappy") along with Buddy Ritter instituted the Cloud Nine Invitational, a premier event in this part of the country. He spent two winters as the Assistant Manager to Buddy but decided the winters were a good time to play with his kids and friends. After he retired again he was a tireless supporter of The Lodge and golf course.
Hal passed away Tuesday, May 9th of 1995. Through 21 years of military career, 57 years as an active member of the PGA, 53 years of marriage, 5 children and 87 wonderful years of life. "Pappy" led his life with style and grace. The Lodge graciously offered to allow the golf course to plant a tree and place a plaque in Hal’s memory on the course.
Last year this scholarship was given to Marie Monfette. Not only did her essay explain her need for this scholarship, it included a brief illustration of her golfing experience. "It was a summer in Michigan and my family was visiting relatives up there. My uncle is one of those retired golf freaks…you know someone who spends their whole life on the golf course after they retire. One day he brought me, my sister and my dad out to a putting mound. I was so excited because I was assigned the "Official Ball Enhancer." That involved retrieving the ball after my dad or uncle hit it. That is pretty much all I know about the world of golf."
In addition to Marie, Sam Newman also received $250 for his essay. Particularly enjoyed by all was this quote: "I know that my mind’s capacity is not full and I would like to learn as much as I can."
The scholarship is funded through donations and the yearly Lodge "Hal Nenninger" Memorial tournament. This year the tournament falls on the 5th and 6th of June. The individual play is on Saturday, June 5th and the scramble is on Sunday, June 6th. You are welcome to play both days for $65 or just one day for $40. This price includes Fees, Carts, and Entry gift. Prizes are awarded each day. Call The Lodge Golf Shop at 682-2098, 682-2566, or 800-395-6343, for more information and starting times.