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November 15, 2012

Jennings had fulfilling life of golf, family

CHICKASHA — Bright-eyed and fresh out of high school, David Jennings found a home — and a place to play his beloved sport of golf — at USAO.

Entering college in 1979, Jennings played golf for the Drovers until the program was cut due to budget constraints. He was able to stay at the school continuing on his golf scholarship until he graduated.

Despite the quick end to his collegiate golf career, Jennings went on to cultivate his passion and make a name for himself in the area’s golf world. He had a beautiful family, a successful career and a golf reputation when his life was tragically cut short at age 48 by a heart attack in September of 2009.

Jennings is one of nine former athletes who was honored at the 40th Anniversary of Athletics on USAO’s campus Nov. 1-3. His wife, Melissa, received his award on his behalf.

“David loved to golf,” Melissa Jennings said. “He had a true passion for the sport. He worked hard at it all the time and was a driven competitor. I say he really never put down the golf clubs unless it was for a fishing pole.”

The 1984 business administration graduate from Duncan was working as a senior environmental technologist for Halliburton Energy Services.

Jennings began playing golf at the age of nine, but he had no idea at the time that golf would open so many doors for him.

“I’ve kept playing for the love of the game,” Jennings told The Duncan Banner in 2006. “My father got me started, and he was the driving force behind me playing. Golf got me a college scholarship.”

Jennings set the current course record at Duncan Golf and Tennis Club and at Twin Oaks Golf Course. He is the 13-time winner of the Washita Valley Golf Tournament in Chickasha.

Additionally, he has qualified for several U.S. Mid-Amateur Golf Tournaments and for several Oklahoma Open Tournaments.

“My wife puts very few restrictions on my golfing,” Jennings told The Duncan Banner in 2006. “She understands what the thrill of victory means to me. There is a balance there that I try to keep. If it swings too much one way, my wife will let me know.”

His impact in Duncan is so great that the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club holds a David Jennings Memorial Tournament annually. This year’s event took place last weekend.

The Duncan Banner’s 2009 sports editor, Michael Pineda, referred to Jennings as the “Tiger Woods of southwest Oklahoma” in a column he wrote immediately following Jennings’ death.

“His reputation on the golf course was richly deserved. If David was not in the lead in a tournament, he was within striking distance and he carried himself well,” Pineda wrote. “It was much easier to respect his ability than it was to emulate it.”

Pineda described Jennings as a man who would apologize to a partner for a bad shot and acknowledge everyone he knew in a crowd, while, of course, amazing them with his good shots.

“He was a good man, and I only wish I could have known him better,” Pineda wrote. “I guess the angels needed a good scramble partner.”

Melissa Jennings echoed Pineda’s kind words about her husband. The couple has two daughters, Emily, 16, and Hannah, 14.

“Because of golf, David received his college education, traveled and made many wonderful friends,” Melissa Jennings said. “He was a loving son, brother, husband and father. He is missed greatly but will never be forgotten.”

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