Legendary golf instructor Marshall M. Smith, 87, of Miami passed away November 28, 2013.
He served in the United States Navy during World War II and then returned to graduate from Quapaw High School. He went on to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and the University of Mississippi, where he competed on the golf teams. Though Marshall retired from the family business, The Smith Insurance Agency, and as a teaching professional in the PGA, he never stopped loving the game of golf.
He continued to spend countless hours on the golf course instructing his children, grandchildren and friends. In Marshall’s words, "I love golf. I love my family. I am so very grateful for all that each has brought to my life."
Feature story from June/July 2011 Golf Oklahoma HERE.
Smith was a great friend of both Golf Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Golf Expo, giving free clinics at Expos in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and northwest Arkansas every year the shows were held. He would never tire of talking about the game and never met a golfer he couldn’t help.
Smith listed several prominent PGA Tour stars among the thousands of golfers he taught over his career. His friendship with Commerce baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle led to the two collaborating on a succesful Make A Wish charity event for many years at Shangri-La Resort in Afton.
Smith wrote several books and many articles on his golf teachings. Hit Your Second Shot First and other secrets of the K.I.S.S. Method was published in 1999. A Lifetime of Lessons, cowritten with David DeNunzio, was released in 2006. He collaborated with John Rohde, then of the Daily Oklahoman, on a book about his days with Mickey Mantle in 1996.
"Legendary fits only a select few and Marshall Smith is for sure one of the few," said long-time friend and sportswriter Clay Henry. "His ability to communicate a quick fix on the lesson tee was legendary. I took quite a few lessons from Marshall and he also "taught" my father, who had two brothers who were PGA club pros. Both of us were just amazed that he could get us "fixed" in under 15 minutes. In fact, that’s what Marshall always promised and he delivered every time.
"When it clicked, Marshall generally hugged you. And, when you turned back after a series of wonderful shots, Marshall always said, "Isn’t it great."
"That’s not a strong enough word for what Marshall could do on the practice tee with his students. And it could be Mickey Mantle, Hale Irwin, Craig Stadler, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Luke Donald or it could also be a five-star general or the Walmart CEO. They all came to Miami to let Marshall work his magic.
"Marshall wrote about the KISS Method in his book, Hit Your Second Shot First. Keep It Simple Stupid was the way he taught. I’ll be in Quapaw on Tuesday to blow a kiss to one of the great ones one last time."
Rohde, who collaborated with Smith on his Mantle book, paid tribute as well.
"Seems rather appropriate for Marshall Smith to leave us on Thanksgiving Day," Rohde wrote to Golf Oklahoma. "We now have one more reason to observe, to remember, to give thanks. Through Marshall, I got to know Mickey Mantle, his close friend who happened to be my childhood idol.
"When he limped, I limped," Marshall shared in his book Memories of Mickey Mantle: My very best friend. "When he ached, I ached."
"Mantle died in 1995 and within a year Marshall had paid tribute with his book. "I think he’s up there looking down on us, waiting for me to join him," Marshall said of The Mick. Now they’re together again. Mickey no doubt is still swinging for the fences and a watchful Marshall is standing nearby, reminding him to "Keep It Simple, Stupid."
Smith was preceded in death by his parents, Percy Smith and Josephine Smith; his brothers Percy, Jr. and Joseph; and his grandson Casey Owens.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Corinne; his son Marshall, Five daughters Dianne Collins, Elizabeth Maxwell, Corinne Nelson, Cathy Duncan, Christy Dallas, 12 grandchildren and his older brother Dabney.
Visitation will be Monday, December 2, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Paul Thomas Funeral Home of Miami, OK. Funeral services will be held at Quapaw Methodist Church, Quapaw on Tuesday, December 3 at 2:00 p.m. with the Rev. Furan Jackson officiating. Interment will be at G.A.R. Cemetery of Miami.
The family suggests memorials be to the Animal Welfare Society of Ottawa County, 501 East Central Ave., Miami, OK 74354 or Quapaw Methodist Church, c/o Mickey Johnson, P.O. Box 614, Quapaw, OK 74363. Online condolences may be made at www.paulthomasfuneralhomes.com.