Driving is Sterling Miller’s thing.
He loves to drive his black Kenworth T600, but he really, really loves to drive a golf ball. And Miller is about to do both in a big way. The 52-year-old trucker who holds seven course records through his years of playing local championships and pro-ams, is set to roll up to a stylish Senior PGA tournament in his company’s Kenworth and take on some of the biggest names in the world of pro golf.
“I am allowed to play in four Senior PGA tournaments this year via sponsor’s exemptions,” says Miller, who hauls for family-owned Hoosier Air Transport of Columbus, Ind. “I can also try and qualify for others in Monday competition. But come next year I have a much bigger goal – I want to play the tour full time and use a tractor with a big sleeper as my home on the road. And if I can’t make it into every tournament, I’ll haul some freight on those off weeks to keep some money coming in.”
Miller’s only regret is that his cab companion, a 10-year-old black spaniel named Bear, will not be allowed out on the course with him. And that’s a shame because Bear also loves golf. Unlike Sterling, when Bear is on a course he spends most of his time playing in the water.
Golf became important to Miller when he was very young. When he was just 12, he spent summer days playing a local nine-hole course. Soon he found he could play it at even par. At that same age, he shagged balls in his hometown of Seattle for Jack Nicklaus as the Golden Bear prepared for a tournament at the beginning his magnificent PGA career. Miller loved the game because it offered him a chance to be competitive, to try and be the best he could be at something, without having to interact with the people around him.
It was, at that time, a solitary pursuit for a man who is today naturally super-gregarious. Rendered almost silent by a massive stutter, Miller would be 27 when he taught himself to finally say his own name clearly and to speak freely and confidently with other people.
The answer to his speech problems came in the form of the late, great Frank Sinatra.
“I made Mel Tillis sound like Billy Graham,” Miller jokes. “Then I bought a two album record set, back when records where still records,” he says. “I loved Sinatra and I bought Frank Sinatra, A Man And His Music. He sings the songs and in between he talks about them. When he sang, I sang, and when he talked, I talked. For hours at a time, every day, for a year. That’s how I learned to speak.”
On the golf course, Miller plans to stay dry. Bear doesn’t.
Euphoric about his newly developed ability he asked a family friend who knew Sinatra to take a letter to Ol’ Blue Eyes. Sinatra wrote back. He began: “First of all, let me say thank you for taking the time to write and to share your beautiful story with me