|Lots of Servis Time|
|Miami Valley to honor one of its greats|
|Golf Column by Bucky Albers, Golf Writer |
Dayton Daily News Sunday, August 1, 1993
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In a life that lasted 72 years, Robert Wesley Servis probably spent more time at Miami Valley Golf Club than anywhere else except his home as a young man, he practiced and played golf there practically every day. In later years, he worked there as maitre d' in the dining room.
He was by far Miami Valley's most decorated golfer. That's why it is fitting that the Club is unveiling a tribute to the five-time Ohio Amateur champion this afternoon.
In conjunction with the sixth annual Bob Servis Memorial ProMember tournament, a memorial to Servis has been placed on the first tee. It's a black granite pedestal sign mounted on a four-sided post, with a matching bench.
The inscription next to a sketch of Servis' face reads: In Memory of Bob Servis, His Lifelong Dedication to Miami Valley Golf Club and His Outstanding Golf Achievements 1915-1987.
Betty Servis, Bob's widow, will be present at a 1:45 p.m. ceremony over which Miami Valley club president Larry Peters will preside.
Bob Servis retired from competitive golf in 1948, long before I made my first trip to a golf course, but I feel privileged to have gotten to know him many years later.
I only repeat the observations of many who knew him when I say that he was as tine a gentleman as I've ever met. Humility was his middle name.
Servis was truly a remarkable athlete. Along with being an. outstanding golfer, he excelled in baseball and basketball and bowling. Because he had such potential as a golfer, he quit playing football aer his freshman year at Oakwood High School, but classmates have reported that he could pass and kick a football better than anyone on the team.
He was an outstanding pitcher and hitter. He once made 27 of 30 free throws to win a basketball shooting contest. He bowled 22 consecutive strikes and a 300 game in 1948. On three occasions at Miami Valley he shot 64 - a record that stood until Mike Glendenning shot 63 in a Servis Memorial.
Born Feb. 14, 1915, Servis began playing golf in 1924 on the John H. Patterson property in Oakwood where many believe the first golf was played in Dayton prior to the founding in 1896 of the Dayton Golf Club - forerunner of Dayton Country Club. The Patterson course, which consisted of six holes, stretched from the present location of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior on Thruston Boulevard to the Oakwood YMCA.
With encouragement from his parents, George and Ethel Servis, Bob then began playing a Community Golf Course.
At the age of 13, when he was a seventh grader, Servis made the golf team at Oakwood and beat the defending city prep champion, Eddie Hamant of Dayton Catholic (later Chaminade) High School. Dayton Catholic protested, and Oakwood was forced to forfeit all its matches because Servis was too young.
Servis qualified for the City Men's Amateur and the Ohio Amateur at the age of 14. He won the Ohio High School championship in 1932.
At the age of 18, he teamed up with the great Walter Hagen in an exhibition match at Miami Valley against Jim Noble and Bob Kepler.
Playing against the likes of Scotty Reston, Clyde Mumma, Jimmy Wall, Kepler and Hamant, Servis won the city match play title in 1933 and 1935 and then quit competing in the tournament.
Servis always worked hard on his game.
Dick Harbison, now a Miami Valley member, was one of many who caddied for Servis. Harbison says Servis would spend the entire day at the course, either playing 18 holes or practicing on the range, the putting green or in a bunker.
"In those days, the caddies shagged balls," Harbison said . "You didn't have to move when you were shagging for him."
Servis won Ohio Amateur titles in 1933, 1936, 1939, 1940 and - after a six-year hiatus while in the Air Force during World War II - 1947 before retiring from competitive golf in 1948 at the age of 33.
"I played golf practically all my live, and I guess I just had enough it," he said once.
By that time Servis had played in U.S. Amateurs and U.S. Opens and had won the Miami and Dixie amateurs.
Servis quit playing competitive golf to work at the Servis and Buhl restaurant on First Street, which was owned by his father. Later he was a salesman for William Focke & Sons, a meat packing firm, and Penney Motors. Then he joined the Miami Valley staff.