By Ken MacLeod
Jerry Jones, former long-time PGA professional who ran both LaFortune Park Golf Course in Tulsa and South Lakes Golf Course in Jenks in a contract with Tulsa County, passed away Sunday in Granbury, Texas at the age of 79.
Jones had been living in an assisted care facility for several years. Services are Saturday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. at Wiley Funeral Home, 400 East Hwy 377 in Granbury. A celebration is tentatively planned after at Granbury Country Club.
“Jerry was my mentor,” said Pat McCrate, who was tutored by Jones from 1989 to Jones retired in 2001 and has run the Tulsa County courses successfully since. “He was a hard-nosed golf pro, but he was a fair golf pro. He was an outstanding businessman in an era when many pros were giving up on the merchandising side and letting discount stores have the sales.
“I worked hard for him but he treated me exceptionally well. He saw more in me than I could envision for myself.”
Jones, who played collegiate golf at the University of Tulsa, started as an assistant professional for Charlie Wiesner at LaFortune Park in 1961. His fellow assistant was Alsie Hyden, still the director of golf at Lake Hefner Golf Course in Oklahoma City.
“Jerry was a good salesman, a good player, a hard worker and had a good relationship with his customers and the sales reps,” said Hyden, who left to become the head professional at newly opened Adams Golf Course in Bartlesville in October of 1963, while Jones eventually went to be the head professional at Surrey Hills Country Club in Yukon in 1974 before returning to LaFortune Park a year later when Wiesner retired.
“Jerry was a very good businessman who cared deeply about the courses,” said Tulsa County Parks Director Richard Bales, who oversees the county courses and is responsible for the maintenance crews and restaurant workers while Jones and later McCrate operate the golf operations including lessons, tournaments, merchandise and marketing.
“He was a hard negotiator but we always got along great. We didn’t agree on everything but he always believed the golf courses had a great value to the community and they had to be constantly looked over. I believed in the same things.”
McCrate said one of the most important lessons he learned from Jones was to treat all manufacturer or other sales representatives like they are your business partners.
“Those guys don’t work for you, they are your business partners was a lesson he always stressed,” McCrate said. “You need to treat them like that and stand up for them if you’re going to be successful with merchandising.”
Jones was also known for developing young assistants, many of whom have gone on to great careers in the golf business.
Note: Here is a link to the story we published on Jerry when he retired in 2001.