Donald Max "Ab" Justice, a towering figure in Oklahoma golf, passed away early Monday of natural causes. Justice, the first All-America golfer at Oklahoma State University (1958) and club champion in three different decades at Oak Tree National, was 79. Flags flew at half staff at OSU’s Karsten Creek Monday in his honor.
Justice ran and helped expand Justice Golf Car, a company founded by his parents Dave and Dolpha. He joined the company in 1966 after briefly trying the PGA Tour and then being a professional in Warren, Ohio, and later at Rolling Hills CC in Wichita and Okmulgee CC.
Under the leadership of Ab and later his son-in-law Chip Cutler, company president, and son David Justice, vice president, Justice Golf Car has grown from a small family business into having 35 employees and dominating the golf car market in Oklahoma, with its fleets of Club Car carts holding nearly 85 percent market share in Oklahoma City and 70 percent in Tulsa, according to the company.
Ab Justice divided his time between the business, family and golf. He loved the game with a passion and was a fixture at Oak Tree Golf Club (now Oak Tree National) from its founding in 1976 until 2008, when he joined Willow Creek Country Club, a course his father had helped build and served as the first professional.
Alsie Hyden, the director of golf at Lake Hefner Golf Course in Oklahoma City, is a long-time friend of Ab Justice and was at his bedside frequently the past week. Hyden, Justice and Joe Walser Jr., one of the Oak Tree co-founders, were frequently to be seen dining with their wives on a weekend night back in the early days of Oak Tree and later Hyden and Justice traveled frequently to Palm Springs, California to visit Walser as Landmark Land Company was building its western empire.
Hyden met Justice at what was then known as Oklahoma State A&M. Both were on the golf team under coach Labron Harris.
"Ab was a Will Rogers type," Hyden said. "He never met a stranger. He had his big hand out to shake all the time. And no matter whether you were right or wrong, he always made you feel like he was going to be behind you.
"He had so many friends. You would mention anyone and it would seem like he knew them. And he always had golf on his mind. You didn’t have many conversations with Ab that didn’t get around to golf. He dearly loved the game."
Justice took lessons from Harold Butler, a pro at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, and became good enough to give professional golf a try. He was the club champion at Oak Tree in 1977 (the first year it was held), 1978, 1979, 1988, 1990 and 1993.
His routine in later years was to spend the morning at the office, play golf with his friends and then hole up in the card room for extended games of gin.
"I love Ab," said Oak Tree head professional Steve Kimmel. "He was an institution here at Oak Tree. He played in all the championships, went on a lot of trips with us, was one of the most well-liked guys at the club."
"Ab loved people and loved golf," said former Oak Tree general manager A.G. Meyers. "He would hold court on the putting green. He was always trying to find a way to better his game."
Ab Justice learned to play golf at the now defunct Capitol Hill Golf Course in Oklahoma City, a course his parents ran which is where Orville Moody learned to play. He attended Capitol Hill High School before going on to OSU.
Ab was our first All-American at OSU," said OSU athletic director and former long-time golf coach Mike Holder. "Ab always supported the team and
because of his loyalty every golf cart purchased at Karsten Creek has been
from Justice Golf Car Co. Ab was a great guy, with lots of friends, and
he will be missed by many."
"There are so many stories," Cutler said. "He was bigger than life. His life was golf and he was very blessed in that he got to do a lot of what he loved. "
Justice is survived by his wife Robbie, children Linda, David and Abbie and five grandchildren. Services will be Friday at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Moore.