A shot for fame

British Open Champion Bill Rogers among Texas High Alumni


Graphic by Margaret Debenport

Story by Charli Hueter, staff writer

It was a sunny afternoon at Royal St. George’s Golf club, where thousands of enthused spectators crowded around two lone figures. Bernhard Langer, clad in all white, watched in serene silence as his opponent stepped up to the green. Tall, slender, and wreathed in a conspicuous red pullover, Bill Rogers earnestly approached the fateful white ball. Born of humble stock within Waco, Texas, little did he know that he was only one putt away from securing his position at the top of the leaderboard; four points superior to Langer. This blonde, six-foot Texan was about to become champion of the 1981 British Open.

Rogers was the child of an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, so it seems logical that somehow he would find himself here in Texarkana. However, his initial exposure to golf first arose at the age of nine, when he lived, not in Texarkana, but in Alabama. By the age of 13, he was proficient enough to play competitively. Eight years later, he would compete in his first career-altering tournament at the Southern Amateurs. The win secured him a significant headstart into the world of professional play.

He attributes his golfing prowess to that of his roots in Texarkana, where he was a frequent presence at Northridge Country Club.”

— Charli Hueter

Rogers graduated in the class of 1969, only three years prior to his success at the Southern Amateurs. He attributes his golfing prowess to that of his roots in Texarkana, where he was a frequent presence at Northridge Country Club. Rogers also accredits Jerry Robinson, the Northridge pro on staff at the time, for greatly influencing his game as a junior competitor. Today, the club sits at the end of Bill Rogers Drive, a road named in honor of the club’s professional progeny.  

In 1974, Rogers received his official Tour card, which designated his promotion to professional status. He had only left our school five years prior, so one can imagine the excitement his name provoked. A year later, he won the first out of the five Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tours he would win through the course of the following eight years. He eventually even won the PGA Grand Slam. Internationally, he took first in the British Open, Australian Open, and Suntory Open in Japan.

Rogers currently resides in San Antonio, where he works as the local golf pro for the San Antonio Country Club. Recently, he competed and won alongside Bruce Lietzke in the teams portion of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf Tour in 2002. Having turned 50 only a year earlier, he has continued participating in the Champions tour periodically. For us Tigers, Rogers stands as the flag for future generations to shoot for. As he would put it, “Life happens in a hurry.” Let’s make the most of our auspicious origins.