RIP: Hunter George Weddington, championship golfer
Hunter George (H.G.) Weddington, a three-time state champion golfer who had been the oldest living member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, died today in his hometown of Meridian, three months shy of his 99th birthday.
Weddington won the State Am three times. Perhaps more impressively, he played in 56 Mississippi state amateur championships, more than 40 in a row, including his first in 1936. He won the state’s amateur championship for the first time in 1939, before serving in World War II.
Weddington and his daughter, champion golfer Lou Weddington Hart, are the only father-daughter combination to have been inducted into the MSHOF. Lou Hart won nine State Amateur titles.
Said Mike Taylor, a 10-time State Am champion and fellow Hall of Famer, “Hunter George Weddington was a player of his era. He drove the ball straight as a string, was always in the fairway and his short game was unbelievably good. He was a masterful putter.”
Weddington won more than 100 golf tournaments, either individually or teamed with daughter, Lou, or her twin brother, Alex. The Weddingtons lived in a home just off the 18th tee at Northwood Country Club, a virtual breeding ground for many of Mississippi’s greatest golfers. The Northwood Invitational was once one of the South’s most prestigious amateur golf tournaments, drawing amateur champions from around the nation. H.G. Weddington won it six times. He won the Northwood club championship 15 times.
Said Jimmy Gamblin, pro at Northwood for 37 years, “H.G. Weddington was Mr. Northwood Country Club. He was Northwood Country Club.”
Taylor, who grew up at Northwood, says Weddington’s golf game was suited for the courses of his era.
“Northwood, like most golf courses, had really tight fairways and the rough wasn’t mowed because of the expense,” Taylor said. “You really had to hit the ball straight, and he did. The greens were really small, so it demanded accuracy. H.G.’s game matched the courses of the time.”
In Meridian the stories are legendary of Hunter George driving his old, three-wheeled, yellow golf cart around Northwood with either Alex or Lou — or both — in tow. If one of the twins wasn’t available, H.G. often had his dog ride along.
Said Gamblin, “H.G. would be 100 yards from the green and send Lou ahead to go tend the pin.”
Now that’s accuracy — and confidence.
Said Taylor of Weddington, “He did not lack for confidence when he got anywhere near the green.”
Weddington had plenty reason for confidence in his accuracy. He made 29 career holes in one.
Weddington never played for big money. In fact, says Gamblin, “I never knew him to play for more than a quarter or 50 cents. He just loved to play. He loved the sport.
“H.G. loved the game as much as anybody I’ve ever been associated with,” Gamblin continued. “He respected the game. He was a gentleman and he respected his opponents, but he didn’t necessarily need one. He could go out by himself and play nine holes and thoroughly enjoy it, competing against the golf course the whole time.”
Said John Lang, another Northwood product who won two State Ams, “Hunter George Weddington had more fun doing what he loved to do than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Lang was a 15-year-old junior golf phenom when he played H.G. Weddington in the first match of the State Am at Hickory Hills in Pascagoula.
“Whenever he would get within 40 yards of the green, he’d have me go hold the flag,” Lang said. “That’s pretty unnerving in match play. But he beat me like a punching bag that day. I think it was 5 and 4 (five down with four holes to play). He taught me a golf lesson that day. Of course, he couldn’t have been nicer. He was a great ambassador for the game.”
I last saw Hunter George Weddington hit a golf ball about 10 years ago in the State Father-Son championship at The Refuge in Flowood. Alex was playing well, but H.G. wasn’t. But on a short, par-3 hole near the end of the round, Alex needed his dad’s help. From 100 yards out, H.G. hit a shot to within three feet of the cup and then made the birdie putt.
Deadpanned H.G., “Son, am I going to have to do everything today?”
We all got a laugh out of that. Not H.G., not immediately. He kept a straight face for a few seconds before he laughed loudest of all.
Visitation will be held Friday, Jan. 15, from 9-11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Meridian to be followed by funeral services officiated by Rev. Rhett Payne. Graveside services will be held thereafter at Magnolia Cemetery.
To help support the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, click here.