TMGP: What/who got you started into the game of golf?
Tom: My dad. Dr. Paul Thomas Luckenbill, of Plattsburg, Missouri, known to friends as “Doc” or “PT”.
My dad was a fantastic baseball hitter and pitcher when he was in high school. World War II diverted him from becoming a professional baseball player. He applied his tremendous athleticism to hardball baseball leagues in Northwest Missouri and later to golf. As best as I can recall, Dad started teaching me golf when I was 11.
TMGP: Can you describe your best moment or day on the golf course?
Tom: There are so many great days of golf in my life. I will share two of my favorites. Somehow, Dad got us on Moselem Springs Golf Course in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. That was an amazing course and we had a wonderful day. Another very memorable moment was the day I placed runner-up in the Plattsburg Club Championship when I was about 15. That tournament came down to a sudden death play-off and Joe Kipper, my 17 year old golf teammate was victorious in the sudden death play-off.
TMGP: Do you take lessons and have a regular teacher? Describe what you do to fix things when needed. Go to a teacher? Work things out yourself?
Tom: Jake Poe at Perche Creek is the pro that I see on occasion. I see him a few times a year and I am sure I should see him more frequently. I am not patient enough to work out fundamental swing problems on my own. Jake is able to effectively diagnose my issues so I can quickly get to work on improving.
TMGP: Do you have a regular “game” with friends?
Tom: I have a standing twilight golf bunch of friends and we play on a weeknight when we can. I also have been playing in at least one tournament per year with a very good golf friend.
TMGP: What’s your best score? Number and what was it to par?
Tom: My top scores were achieved on my home course in Plattsburg, Missouri. This was in the mid-to-late 1970s. At that time, the course was only nine holes and had sand greens. Sand greens take several strokes off a game since the sand will likely stop a shot to the green that is coming in with too much heat. That course was a par 35. I believe my best nine hole score on that course was 31.
TMGP: What’s the most beautiful/scenic course you’ve ever played?
Tom: Moselem Springs, Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.
TMGP: What’s the best golf related advice/tip that you’ve ever been given?
Tom: In a book by Jack Nicklaus, I read that a common mistake of amateurs is to try to use one club less than they should when approaching the green. Many times a year I will start to take an iron or hybrid thinking I will swing extra hard to reach the green. Then I think of the “Golden Bear’s” advice and use one more club, use my normal swing and undoubtedly save strokes on average.
TMGP: Do you feel that your perspective on the game has changed or evolved since you first started playing?
Tom: Absolutely. I was still very competitive with myself until I was about 35 years old. On a certain day on a fairly challenging course in Columbia, I totally lost my cool. Fortunately, I was playing by myself. I determined that day to stop acting as though I was trying to make the tour or something, and simply enjoy the game. Of course, I still get frustrated at times, but I don’t allow it to get to me near as much.
TMGP: Do you have any specific golf products that you rely on/enjoy using?
Tom: I like Bridgestone and Titleist golf balls. I am pretty happy with my Callaway clubs.
TMGP: Have you changed out your long irons to hybrids? What’s the longest iron in your golf bag?
Tom: I carry two, three and four hybrids. I am still experimenting with the four hybrid versus four iron.