By Ken MacLeod
One of the first people I would have called for reaction on Friday’s passing of Buddy Phillips would have been Jerry Cozby.
And the first call on Sunday’s passing of Jerry Cozby would have been to Phillips.
Suddenly, Oklahoma is without two lions of the game, as Cozby passed away Sunday at age 79. He had been weakened by pneumonia and stomach issues and had an operation on Friday from which he was unable to recover.
I know what each would have said about the other.
“He was a pro’s pro.”
It’s a short declarative, but implies a world of meaning. In every aspect of the job of PGA club professional, and really in life, it means you walked tall.
Cozby, patriarch of one of the first families of Oklahoma golf, retired in 2009 after serving as head professional at Hillcrest Country Club in Bartlesville for 41 years. He was the PGA National Professional of the Year in 1985 and the PGA South Central Section Professional of the Year in 1973 and 1985. He was inducted into the section Hall of Fame in 2000, the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame in 2016.
More importantly to Coz, as he was known throughout the industry, he was the proud husband of wife Karole and father of sons Cary, Craig and Chance, all top juniors who played at the University of Oklahoma and went on to fulfilling careers in the golf industry and to build wonderful families off their own, making Jerry an equally proud grandfather.
Cozby was a demanding boss and his large family tree of professionals will all tell you they learned to pay attention to every detail. But after running roughshod over his staff during the day, he was the first one to buy them a drink or dinner after work.
For this writer, the after-work glow of the Cozby personality was what I experienced, though he wouldn’t hesitate to correct me for dumb mistakes. “Hey babe, you might want to double check this,” meant get back to work.
He was an invaluable resource, loved the game and everything about it, had great stories and opinions. I miss him tremendously already and I’m sure that void will grow. Will be back later today with more remembrances from his fellow professionals about both he and Buddy Phillips, who for 40 years served the membership at Cedar Ridge Country Club. Please check back. And to both Jerry and Buddy, thank you for all you did and rest in peace.
Here’s Jerry’s official obituary.