Will Rogers must have just met Morris Slingluff before his legendary slogan "I never met a man I didn't like." That's because if all men were like "Sling," he was he was affectionally called, how could you not like them all?
Until a few years ago, Slingluff was the last player from Dothan since 1959 to win the Future Masters. Glenn Northcutt finally broke the hex practically a half-century later, but some awfully good local players tried in vain but couldn't wear home the winner's blazer.
In the process of winning the FM and helping Dothan High to the state title that year, he caught the eye of Auburn golf coach Sonny Dragoin, who was originally from Ashford. Sling lured Dragoin into offering him a scholarship, likely the best recruit Dragoin ever signed during a career that ended with his induction in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Playing rough-shod courses that would make today's well-manicured tracks all look like Augusta National, Slingluff averaged a score of 72 from 1961-63 at Auburn, once finishing in the Top Ten individually in the SEC tournament. He was the school's first All-American in golf.
He never lost his ties to Auburn, remaining close to Dragoin and attending as many Tiger sporting events as he could. He was given one of the consummate honors at his alma mater when they placed his name on the Tiger Trail, a series of gold stars that dots the sidewalks near Toomer's Corner and the downtown Auburn area. He's right there, beside Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan, Charles Barkley and all the other Auburnites who live forever in the school's athletic history.
I had many personal experiences with the man who insisted I call him Morris. I listened with the ease he displayed while pushed into speaking at the old FM banquet when weather problems kept the scheduled guest from flying in. I recall his story about little Johnny whiffing the ball twice on the first tee and his Mom asking what was wrong? "I didn't know the course was going to be this hard," Morris winked, as the audience roared in laughter.
Slingluff was inducted into the Wiregrass Hall of Fame in 2005 and in the days leading up to his death in 2010, could be found playing nine holes when daylight permitted at his beloved Dothan Country Club. Owner of a loopy swing that looked a little like Jim Furyk, he could still use it to beat your brains out. Now, an elementary school has been named in his honor and one of the biggest charity scrambles honoring his many contributions to Dothan is held every year.
In short, there wasn't anything a man could dislike about Morris. He served on the first bi-racial committee in the city and gave hundreds of hours to developing youngsters and their opportunities here. Yes. I'd say Rogers did indeed meet Morris, if not until the after-life. And know what? I bet he liked him.
Phil Paramore's column appears Tuesday in The Dothan Eagle. He can be heard weekdays from noon until 2 on AM 560 WOOF and 100.1 FM. He can also be heard world-wide at www.woofradio.com and can be reached at the same website.