HSU alumnus and amateur golf legend scores under par at age 87

July 31, 2019 Macee Hall, Staff Writer

(ABILENE, Texas)–Hardin-Simmons University boasts a long history of greatness; since opening its doors in 1891, the university has produced countless great athletes, actors, speakers, and missionaries, but not all HSU’s inspirational alumni flaunt their accomplishments. Raymond Hibler ’53, known as a 6-foot-3-inch gentle giant, is not one to brag about his success, but over the past decades, he has slowly become an amateur golf legend, competing in international tournaments and helping those around him grow through the sport he loves. Last month, just before his 88th birthday, Hibler shot a 71 at Wildhorse Golf Club at Robson Ranch in Denton, landing himself a feature on the first page of the Dallas Morning News Business Section.

An Impressive Accomplishment

“According to data from the National Golf Foundation,” as shared on golfweek.com, “only 26 percent of all golfers shoot below 90 consistently on regulation 18-hole courses; 45 percent of all golfers average more than 100 strokes per round. A player who shoots 85 is doing better than nearly three out of four of his golfing peers–a good score.”

Hibler’s score of 71 is one under the course’s 72 par and ranks him far above many of his amateur golf peers. At 88 years old, scoring under par is nearly unheard of, but this Texas golf legend continues to better his game through passion and dedication.

Humble Beginnings

After college, Hibler coached at Abilene High School, Fort Bliss, and El Paso High School, before buying a small auto parts business in the early 1960s. The store, called HIB Automotive, took a drastic toll on Hibler’s health. Just after purchasing the company, Hibler suffered a “stress breakdown” and was advised by his doctor to find a hobby outside of work to release tension. Hibler visited the Coronado Country Club in El Paso soon after and began his golfing journey.

Over the last half-decade, Hibler served as president of both the Southwestern Golf Association and the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association. He graduated from the U.S. Golf Association Rules Committee School and the Professional Golf Association Rules School to later serve as the rules official at many golf tournaments. He even rated courses for Golf Digest for a while.

Golf provided much-needed stress relief for Hibler, but it also provided him with an active community, a bonding activity for him and his daughters, and an excuse to see the world with his wife by his side.

In 1988, Hibler won the World Senior Golf Championship. In the early 1990s, he won both the Mexican International Championship and the Guadalajara Senior Invitational.

Life at Hardin-Simmons

Born in Bertram, Texas, in 1931, Hibler grew up a multisport athlete. Hibler attended Hardin-Simmons from 1949 to 1953 on a full athletic scholarship to play both baseball and basketball for the school, and to study physical education.

Hibler played both basketball and baseball during his time at HSU. He picked up golf later in life.
Hibler played both basketball and baseball during his time at HSU. He picked up golf later in life.

1953 was a banner year for HSU athletics; the basketball team, led by Doyle Brunson ‘53, won the Border conference in the NCAA tournament, and the golf team, led by Joe Black ’53, won the NAIA National Championships. Though Hibler did not pick up his golf clubs until years later, he was a vital member of the 1953 basketball team.

Hibler was not only involved in sports at HSU; he also spent time with friends on campus. During one friendly nighttime volleyball game, Hibler “knocked down this little ol’ crazy blonde trying to get a shot,” according to Hibler in his Dallas Morning News feature. The blonde beauty was Rolande Kemp, and the pair fell head over heels in love. Shortly after his graduation from HSU, on October 17, 1953, Ray and Rolande became Mr. and Mrs. Hibler. The couple later raised two daughters, Allison and Elaine.

Hibler remains proud of his HSU roots and even served on the Board of Trustees in the early 1990s. Hibler exemplifies the humble greatness the world has come to expect from Hardin-Simmons University and its amazing alumni body.

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