There is no one in the Utah Golf Hall of Fame who started golf anywhere near as late in life as 28 years old——-until now with the induction of Bob Betley. Almost all Hall of Famers had a foundation in junior golfer and steadily grew in the game to Hall of Fame status. Not Bob Betley. In fact, he almost skipped amateur golf, turning pro after just two years of minor accomplishments. As an amateur he earned a statewide reputation for driving the ball long distances, but his tournament wins were thin and he never played in the State Am.
His career path changed dramatically when he decided to turn professional and went to Las Vegas to learn how to play. He was hired as an assistant at the Desert Inn Country Club where he got good instructions and changed his swing dramatically. He practiced and practiced, sometimes hitting thousands of balls in a day, into the night, and even into the early morning. To the outside observer it seemed like he became a super player over night, and in reality that was almost true, except that it was over many nights of intense hard work and dedication to achieving the proper swing.
It was a story book start. It was not a fairy tale, and the clock didn’t strike twelve.
He began playing professional tournaments in Utah and throughout the Intermountain West, and he found that he liked winning, and winning he did. He won State Open titles in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Idaho, and numerous other titles totaling well over 75 victories.
His booming (pre-high tech) drives were prodigious and crowds soon gathered in amazement to watch him hit the ball. He had charisma. A charming gait, Popeye forearms, vice-like grip, wavy blond hair, a cheerful, friendly smile, and he always remained a commoner, a motorcycle cop turned golf pro. He loved a gallery and the gallery loved him back.
The Senior Tour capped his flamboyant career. He earned his way onto the Tour in 1990, and despite a shoulder injury and five subsequent surgeries that seriously stymied his success he earned more than $1 million. Highlights included losing an 8-hole sudden death playoff with Orville Moody at the Shootout at Jeremy Ranch, and winning the championship at the 1993 Bank of Boston Classic.
He won the Arizona Open in 1978 with Jane Telford as his caddie. They married two months later and have been sidekicks ever since. She has caddied for him in almost all of his tournaments and was the first female caddie on tour. They are Team Betley.
He was born on February 1, 1940 in Butte, Montana. His parents are John and Jean Betley. He has two brothers and two sisters. He moved to Utah in 1961 to accept a job as a policeman at Ogden City. He attended Weber State where he studied police science and administration. He was on the Weber State track team where he excelled in the javelin and shot put. He also studied art and painting has become his lifetime hobby and avocation.