Q&A with Colonial operations legend David Williams

Posted Sunday, May. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Every year, the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is a family affair for David Williams.

For over 50 years, Williams has either worked or ran the chaotic parking operations for the tournament, which began as a side job while in high school at Fort Worth Eastern Hills and now has turned into an all-hands-on-deck, family tradition.

In that time, Williams shook the hands of the best and brightest of the sport and even driven a few of their cars to a valet lot.

Through the rest of the year, Williams owns a car repair shop, of which he remains heavily involved with its day-to-day operations, and he travels the country as one of the best shuffleboard players in America.

How did you get started working at the Colonial?

We just had our 50-year high school reunion at the Petroleum Club and a bunch of us that went to high school worked out here parking cars. That’s how we started. One of the people I went to high school with hired me and after he graduated from college he became general manager at the Colonial. The guy that was running this was moving out of town and he asked me if I wanted to take it over, so I’ve actually been running it for 35 or 40 years. It was just a way to make money.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in your time working?

I’m not really involved that much with the tournament or anything. Back in the old days, I got to see Don January, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus. The jockey Willie Shoemaker has been out here several times.

Any big headaches you can remember for parking car experiences?

I don’t want to tell any of the mishaps that happened. [He said with a big grin.]

What is the best moment or memory you have from working the Colonial?

I started doing it just for extra money. When I took it over and started contracting it, my brother works with me, my sister-in-law, my niece and my sons and my whole family works in here. I started when I was in high school. I used my sons when they were in high school. A bunch of my friends who were coaches in high schools used their kids and now my sons are out here parking cars. It’s three generations. I’m getting pretty old ... maybe [my sons] will take it over when I leave.

Are you a golfer at all?

No, I absolutely do not golf. All my relatives and kids do. I’ve lived on the golf course but I just don’t golf.

Do you follow the sport?

Oh, yes. I watch it all the time. It’s amazing how talented those guys are. I wish that I had learned to be a golfer instead of playing shuffleboard. There’s a lot more money in it.

How did you get into shuffleboard?

I play. I guess it’s somewhat professional. We have tournaments in Vegas and Reno. We have big tournaments in Oklahoma and Kansas City. I play in about 10 or 15 tournaments a year. It’s become a pretty big sport. They’re getting sponsors now like the Sands in Reno and they add 20 grand to the pot. I’ve been playing for 40 or 50 years and I’ve been rated No. 1 to No. 5 in the nation for a long time.

How did you become a pro?

When I was in college we just started playing in bars. As I became better, I played a lot of really good players that came through town, like pool hustlers, and I would beat a lot of them. Some of them would then ask me to come play in the tournaments. It’s really evolved now that there are a lot of young people involved. I wish it would have been this way earlier; now I’m too old to benefit from all this money that’s going to be in the game.

Who do you think is today’s best golfer?

In my opinion there’s no doubt, it’s [Tiger] Woods. I honestly think he will continue to come back. I’m not an expert on golf by any means, but to me, he’s probably the best player that’s ever played the game, even including those older people I named.

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