Dunaway Goes Long Again On New Song
Posted: October 31, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
The first time I heard about Mike Dunaway, I was a sophomore on the Central Arkansas golf team, finishing a practice round. There was a buzz about “a football player” behind us.
No. 18 at Conway Country Club was around 560 yards to a green atop a bluff. It was a true three-shot hole to all on the team. Someone said, “Watch this guy. He’s going to hit a wedge to the green.”
That didn’t seem like a big deal. All of us hit wedges to the green.
“Uh, he’s going to do it on his second shot,” he said, “not his third. But it helps to hit a 200-yard wedge.”
And that’s what Mike Dunway did for his two-putt birdie. That was my introduction to Dunaway 40 years ago. We’ve played many rounds together since, including some scrambles, almost always finishing in the money.
Mike’s home is Rogers now. We watched our daughters grow up together in church and high school. He emailed me out of the blue last week with news that he’d just been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Long Drivers of America, no doubt the organization that grew out of the “350 Club” that he created 25 years ago in Las Vegas.
He’s been out of the money the last several years, battling diabetes and health problems. Some of that landed him in the hospital for weeks, with no insurance.
“I thought I was going to die,” he said. “They finally took a rib out of my right side. I can’t hit more than a handful of golf balls now. It was just me and my dog and $160,000 in bills. I wanted to die, except for my dog.”
That’s his beautiful Sugar, a Golden Retreiver who matches the name. It’s his inspiration for his latest plot to hit the money. He wrote what he calls the “ultimate love song,” released on iTunes this week.
Well, it is. The title tells it all: I Love My Dog and My Dog Loves Me.
“All I had when I was laying on my couch was those bills and my dog,” he said. “Seriously, that was where I was. I was looking for a song that matched that and I couldn’t find it. So I wrote one.
“I sent it to Andy Griggs in Nashville. He called me and said, ‘Listen, it’s like a first grader wrote it, but I love it and I want to record it.’ He helped it and we co-own it. We’ve got a marketing plan that includes an online dog parade.
“All dog people are going to get it. And I think it’s going to be a big hit. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done, but I think I can pull it off.”
Dunaway has always pulled off the big hit. He did it with Callaway Golf. He was asked to come to California to test Ely Callaway’s early drivers, from Hickory Stick Golf Company.
“He wanted to see if I could break the shafts,” Dunaway said. “I couldn’t, but they were terrible. He gave me two drivers and I hit them for two days. I told him they were too heavy.”
Good did come out of that meeting. Dunaway hooked up Callaway with Dick Helmstetter. They formed Callaway Golf and came up with the Bertha driver. Again, Dunaway was their tester.
“I hit 22,000 drives over 11 months,” Dunaway said. “I broke a lot of drivers, but they figured it out. Of course, the key in golf is to find money. So Ely brought in 20 bankers to a driving range and I hit shots for a day. It was the best day I’ve ever had with a golf club. I was perfect and the bankers signed on. And Ely hired me.”
Dunaway knows the golf swing. He learned the secrets from the late Mike Austin in Las Vegas, a famed teacher. He’s done several videos, some with Austin. He’s working on another that will be released on his website, Dunaway Long.
Is he teaching, working anywhere?
“No, just working on my song and my video,” Dunaway said. “I can’t work for someone. I want to do something big.
“I have to shoot for the moon. That’s always what I’ve done. When I die, that’s what it’s going to say on my grave, he went for the moon.”
Dunaway shoots high, but tells the truth.
“The best thing I ever did,” he said, “was tell a guy he had a couple of lousy golf clubs.”
Clay Henry is the publisher of Hawgs Illustrated, a NWA Media publication