Charles Thorpe Sr., a greenskeeper at the Roxboro Country Club in North Carolina, exposed his five sons to golf and suggested they might one day be good at the game.
Two of the five realized their father's dream and eventually played on the PGA tour. They are now prominent figures on the D.C. area golf scene and finished in a three-way tie for second this week in the Middle Atlantic Open in Columbia, Md.
"The other three brothers went on to something else," said Jim, 28. "But Chuck and I took the long way around in making Dad's dream come true."
"I had a try out with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966," said Chuck, at 30 a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder. "I was a first baseman and I always thought baseball was going to be my sport. Both Jim and I played golf since we were tiny kids in Roxboro.
"We were caddies and between the members and Dad, who gave us a lot of help, we could play as well as anybody in the state when we were juniors."
"I guess gold had a bigger hold on me than I thought. The Pirates had two workouts a day in spring training and in between I'd sneak off and play golf. They found out about it and suspended me for a week - telling me to concentrate on baseball. During that week, I took off for a golf tournament in Kentucky - I was 19 then - and I won it. I never came back to the Pirates."
Jim also took a detour to golf, his first stop being football. Jim also is 6-foot-2 but brawnier than his brother at 215 pounds. Jim is an O.J. Simpson look alike.
Jim started college at Winston-Salem State and switched on a football scholarship to Morgan State.
"But golf was in my blood," he says. "I never planned on getting a club job. I wanted to play. So did Chuck. I did have a few nibbles, particularly in Florida, about a club job but I always resisted the temptation."
Chuck Thorpe earned his playing card in 1971 and played the tour through 1975. He didn't do badly, averaging about $25.000 a year. But expenses took their toll.
"In 1974 I had an operation for hemorrhoids and played in only eight or nine tournaments. I quit the tour voluntarily in 1975 when my wife lost a child. I felt I had to stay with her."
Jim didn't obtain his playing card until 1975 but he lost it in December last year. "I didn't play in enough tournaments, he explained. "I think the rule is that you must qualify in 50 per cent of the tournaments."
Jim has been playing the satellite tournaments and the mini-circuit.
"I was mixed up with the new group that went bust - The American Golf Association," he continued. "I had made about $3,500 on the PGA tour in 1975 but my expenses were over $9,000.
"So I tried this new tour. I finished second in a tournament in Panama and received a check for $2,500. Some of my friends there cashed it for me and then, much to my embarrassment, when I got home the check bounced. I had to scramble around to make the check good."
The brothers admit the big tour is tough.
"You can't look for your game when you're on the tour," Jim says. "You've got to take your game with you. I think the worst part of the tour, when you don't have an exemption, is to try to qualify every Monday. You can shoot 69 to par and still lose out. Then there's nothing to do until next week."
Jim Thorpe, who lives in Falls Church, says the best parts of his game are his wedge shots and putting. "I'm a very decent putter," he says, "and that helps."
However, it was two three-putt greens at the end that cost him the Middle Atlantic title.
"I believe I can win on the tour," said Chuck, who makes his home in Alexandria. "You've got to get your head and your game together to win and I think I can still do it."
Both brothers with try again for their playing cards this fall. "We'll make it again," said Jim, "and we'll make Dad even prouder."