GARY STEPHENSON'S FULL STORY
Gary Stephenson’s love of sports began at an early age. Born (1965) and raised in Richardson, a northern suburb of Dallas, Gary was the fourth of five children born into a family of athletes. During his school age years, he was involved in football, basketball and baseball, and played golf with his dad and brothers, “simply as recreation.”
Upon graduation from high school in 1983, Stephenson was off to Lubbock, Texas, to play baseball for Lubbock Christian College, the defending NAIA National Champions. As a pitcher, he began his collegiate career with great promise, but was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Gary came back and took the mound for two more years until his shoulder ailment made him give up the sport for good. “Looking back, this actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I then turned my attention to golf.”
“I had always played ball of some kind, and I missed going to practice and games. While attending school, I operated a lawn business to support my wife and myself, which took up a lot of my time, but I still wanted to be involved in sports.” It was during this time, that Stephenson took a job at the Shadow Hills Golf Course in Lubbock. With a laugh, Gary describes this time by saying, “It was certainly not a position of glamour. For free playing privileges and range balls, my part time duties involved picking and washing range balls, collecting trash, washing carts, and being a course marshal. The days started very early, and ended late, but it was a great experience. This got me excited about the sport as I began to appreciate the game, and became more consistent as a player. I had always played golf, but at that time it became more than just amusement. I finally understood that it was a sport that I could participate in for the rest of my life.”
While completing his senior year at LCC, Gary was also attending classes at Texas Tech University to obtain a Degree in Landscape Architecture. He graduated from Lubbock Christian in 1987, and turned his attention fully to Tech, where he received many honors and awards for excelling in design. Three years later, in 1990, Gary graduated from Texas Tech with a BS Degree in Landscape Architecture.
In June of 1990, Gary became an associate designer with Graham & Panks International, a Phoenix based golf course architecture company owned by former US Open and PGA Champion, David Graham, and golf course architect, Gary Panks. Stephenson was then named Sr. Designer and became responsible for project coordination, design and management of the GPI projects. While serving in this capacity, Stephenson worked on fourteen of the seventeen courses designed and built by Graham & Panks International.
When asked about GPI, Stephenson say’s, “I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Gary and David. They gave me a solid start in an extremely competitive field, and they provided a very strong base for learning the complexities of golf course architecture. We worked on many high profile projects and I got to see parts of the world that I had only dreamed of. I also consider myself blessed to call them my friends.”
In 1996, Stephenson moved his family back to Dallas to operate a satellite office for Graham & Panks. However, in the Fall of 1997, the partnership between Gary Panks and David Graham was amicably ended as David began a full playing schedule on the Senior PGA Tour. At that time, Gary Stephenson began his own golf course architecture and land planning company called, THE LINKSMEN.
Gary and April now live in the north Dallas suburb of Celina, Texas, with their four children. The Stephenson's are very involved in their church, and in 1997 started the North Texas Christian Academy in McKinney. April works as a teacher helping at risk children in the Celina ISD.
Lubbock Christian College in Lubbock, Texas (1983-1987)
Graduated in 1990 with a BS in Landscape Architecture
Lubbock Christian College in Lubbock, Texas (2012-current)
Currently working toward a Masters in Bible and Family Ministry
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