Catching Up With Lou Miller

Tom Poland

Posted 8/30/23

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

L-R, Tom Poland, Eddie Drinkard, and Lou Miller, all Lincolnton, Georgia, fellows at The Saddle. (Photo by Tom Poland)

No. 87 lay on Buddy Bufford Field as still as a stone. Louis Miller, senior end, had broken ribs, but better days lay ahead. The undefeated Red Devils would beat Dade County to claim the 1960 Class C State Championship. Louis would make All State, first team, and his athleticism promised more success in another sport down the road.

Flash forward to August 18. Eddie Drinkard and I traveled to the Old Edwards Club near Highlands, North Carolina, to visit with Lou, as he’s known today. We talked football and Lou recalled a key play just before the half against Dade County. “I fielded a kickoff and threw a left-handed pass across the field to Franklin Banks and he took it to the house.”

With high school ball behind him, Lou earned a partial scholarship at Presbyterian College as a 192-pound receiver-defensive back. A.L. “Art” Williams, quarterback, was also at PC, and he and Lou forged a friendship that led to more football. “Art and I coached football two years in Baxley, Georgia, and two years in Columbus, Georgia.” The two men’s destiny included business and golf.

Lou’s passion for golf began in Lincolnton, Georgia, when Coach Buddy Radford introduced him to golf. “I won my first golf tournament at Mr. Perryman’s house on Sunrise Drive. I beat either Weems Pennington or Bobby Freeman. Lou later played on the tennis and golf teams at Georgia Southern. “I knew I was going to get in the golf business.” He did. It began with his desire to teach golf.

Enter Bob Toski, a PGA Golf Professional Hall of Famer. Toski invited Lou to Palmetto Dunes in Hilton Head where he was leading a Golf Digest school.” Lou’s journey was underway and it would take him to Thomasville, Georgia, Westfield, New Jersey, Vero Beach, Florida, and Pinehurst, North Carolina. A side trip took him to Raleigh to establish an office for Art Williams, now his business partner. In Raleigh Lou became friends with Coaches Dean Smith, Roy Williams, and Mack Brown. Other stops along the journey included Blythewood, South Carolina, Bluffton, South Carolina, and Highlands.

Along the way Lou met influential people in golf: Frank Carney, longtime head pro at Augusta Country Club, Bob Moser, UGA grad and golf pro, and Arnold Palmer. A way station along his journey blended golf with business management. Lou worked fifteen years at H.M.S. Golf Management & Development, a company that builds premier golf courses and consults on golf operations. Today Lou puts that experience to work as president of Old Edwards Club and GlenCove by Old Edwards in the Cashiers-Highlands region.

There in the region known as the “Plateau,” Art Williams turned an old farmstead into The Saddle, a twelve-hole par three course. “Art kept some of the old farm’s character,” said Lou. The farmhouse and its outhouse still stand. The Saddle’s name comes from a nearby mountain swale resembling a saddle. They call the clubhouse the Barn. Lou oversees The Saddle’s operations.

August 18 a hometown reunion took place at Old King Edward Club and The Saddle. Eddie, Lou, and I caught up on our memories of Lincolnton, the hometown “Court House gang, and Red Devil football.

Lou’s journey has taken him from football to golf and business success. “My life is playing golf, giving golf lessons, and getting to know people’s families,” said Lou. While at The Saddle, Lou gave Eddie and me a putting lesson involving speed and direction. “Speed is most important,” he said. A life lesson? “Surround yourself with great people. I did,” said Lou.

The night I saw No. 87 lying there with broken ribs? Had I a crystal ball I’d have seen a man from Lincolnton get off the turf onto the green to make a memorable life for his family and himself. Folks like to see their boys go off and “do good” and Lou has. He’s evidence of how athletics instills hard work and discipline, two values fostering success.

No. 87 has had three holes in one and he’s been to 65 consecutive Masters. For thirty years now he’s been taking people who have never been to the Masters. “They can’t believe it,” said Lou. “Some cry.”

As Eddie and I reflected on Lou on our drive back to Georgia, Eddie said something that stuck with me. “Lou is a caring person. It doesn’t matter if you are a college kid greeting guests at the front door of The Barn or someone rich. All you have to do is observe him.”

Lou said something that stuck too. “I enjoy seeing people be happy, seeing them enjoy being themselves.” And Eddie’s right. All you need do is watch how people react to “Coach Lou,” as his staff refers to him.

Lou’s wife is Kay. He has three children, Shannon, Cory, and Brent from a previous marriage. He’s the son of Jane Smalley Miller and Louis Miller Sr.

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