Glenn Dale golf pro Hugh McLellan has a thick Scottish accent that gives hints of a life rich in golf lore. And so it is.
The 69-year-old McLellan, the only pro Glenn Dale has had in its 18-year history, learned the humbling game in the caddy yards of Prestwick, Scotland, site of the first British Open.
"Soccer and golf. That was it when I was growing up," said the personable McLellan, who started as a caddy, honed his game to scratch as a teenager, and came to American in 1930 to work several pro jobs before settling at Glenn Dale, near Greenbelt, in Prince George's County.
"I caddied for one of the longest hitters of the gutta percha ball, Ted Blackwell," recalled McLellan. "On the first hole at Prestwick, he would hit a drive and a mid-mashie (four-iron). When I went over there some years ago, I used a driver and a wedge. That gives you an idea of the difference between the gutta percha and the modern ball."
"You had to go through a training period for caddies. Next to each tee area was a sandbox. They didn't have wooden tees back then. You teed the ball up on a mound of sand. And after each round, you rubbed the shafts down with linseed oil and the iron heads with emery paper."
McLellan soon got intimate with club repair, the stock in trade for old-time pros. "I think my temperament contrilbuted to that. I used to throw the clubs occasionally and I was always repairing those clubs," he said.
McLellan went to work under head pro Andy Gibson at Bonnie View, near Baltimore, with whom he had gone to school in Prestwick. He had little chance to work on his golf game there, because he was caddy master, starter and assistant pro.
Three years later, McLellan stepped into his first head job, at exclusive Gibson Island near Glen Burnie, where he practiced six hours a day, five days a week.
McLellan then went to work at Old Dominion Golf Club in Newport News, Va., and played in tournaments with well known golfers Bobby Cruick-shank and Chandler Harper.
He then took a head pro job for 15 years at Edgewood Arsenal, in Aberdeen, Md., before coming to Glenn Dale, which was originally Prospect Hills. Ray and Roy Shields took it over 2 1/2 years later, in 1961, and named it Glenn Dale.
McLellan won a few area pro-ams back then, and twice qualified locally for the PGA, which was match play, but failed to qualify at the tournament site. "Between the hook and the putter, I couldn't get there," he said.
"I had a funny experience. Years ago, Dr. Benny Baker, the head doctor at Johns Hopkins, was treating Henry Picard, the head pro at Hershey, for an injured thumb. Picard invited Andy Gibson, myself and Dr. Baker to play with him. When we arrived there, Picard said, 'I'd like for you to meet one of the finest young players in the country, and maybe he'll play with us.'
"We went down to the practice tee and met Ben Hogan. This was before he started on tour. He was hitting the ball like he woned the golf course and everything that went with it. Picard invited Ben along with us for a fivesome, but Ben passed it up. So we played 18 holes of golf, had a snack and as we were driving out of the place, we looked over and he was still hitting balls off the practice tee!
Back then, Hogan had a real deep (long) backswing, deeper than Ben Grenshaw's, and he won the U.S. Open with it. After his accident, he came up to White Flint for an exhibition, and he had taken 2 1/2-3 feet off his backswing. He won the Open with a big arc and also won it with a short arc." CAPTION: Picture, Hugh McLellan