Jack Allara II made the move from his native West Virginia to the Roanoke Valley in 1984, when he set up his first dentistry practice in Daleville before moving shop to his current location on Roanoke’s Airport Road three years later.
Soon, a 10-handicapper who as a teenager didn’t possess enough talent to make the boys’ golf team at Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg, West Virginia, straggled into the now-defunct Countryside Golf Club in Roanoke one afternoon in the late 1980s.
It was there Allara met Arman Fletcher, a gangly old-timer who owned a short swing and a deft chipping and putting touch rivaled by few in the area.
“I had heard of Arman because he used to come up and play in tournaments in West Virginia. I approached Arman and told him that I was looking to start playing,” Allara said of a man who won more than 100 golf tournaments over six decades before passing away at age 85 in 2012.
“Arman would offer you advice, solicited or not,” Allara recalled of his fellow West Virginia native. “The guy knew how to play. I had the honor and privilege of watching him win the VSGA Senior Amateur at the Homestead in 1987, when he won in playoff over Harry Easterly.
“Arman used to work with us on some stuff and that kind of lit the fire for me and playing in some of these big tournaments.”
From there, Allara continued talking — a trait that he shared with Fletcher.
“I remember playing in my first major with Arman in the VSGA Four-Ball in 1988 at The Waterfront,” he noted. “I think he shot 1 under on his own ball and we shot 1 under. I wasn’t much help back then.”
Two years later at Hidden Valley Country Club, Allara and good friend Charlie Turner knocked off future collegians David Hagadorn and Tom Brittain to capture the VSGA Four-Ball title.
“That’s was Jack’s first big one,” Turner recalled. “He made a 22-footer on the last hole to get us into a playoff. Then we won the playoff when I made about a 10- to 12-footer for birdie on the second hole.”
Since, the victory list has grown longer and longer. It has become so long that the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame simply couldn’t ignore the guy any longer.
At the organization’s annual banquet in November, Allara will join former Roanoker Jake Allison as the 48th and 49th members enshrined into the hall.
“Yeah, I think Arman would be proud of me if he were still around,” said Allara, who has won close to 30 tournament titles in the state.
At an age where many golfers’ skill levels begin to erode, the good doctor has somehow kept his solid game intact. Although he’s far from a workout maniac, Allara, unlike most, has been able to maintain good health.
Along the way, the dentist has continued to drill others on a golf course much like he does those who park in his office chair.
For starters, he is one of only three players ever to win the HOF men’s title and the HOF Senior crown. Ned Baber and Dicky Linkous, two of the biggest names in Roanoke Valley golf history, are the only other others to pull the double.
“Winning the regular Hall of Fame in 2001 is my biggest win,” Allara said. “It was huge for me after being second and third and knocking on the door a few times. Well, I finally kicked the door down. Was 1 under for the week, won by four shots.”
In 2003 at age 49, Allara qualified for the 25-and-over U.S. Mid-Amateur in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he stunned longtime Georgia hotshot David Noll Jr. in the quarterfinals by one-putting the final four holes.
How has Allara kept his game glued together for so long?
“There are two things about Jack,” Turner said. “He sets the golf club at the top better than anybody I know. The other thing is Jack is brutally honest, not only with you but with himself. If he knows he has a deficiency, he will fix it. And he does it.
“Plus, he never tries to say he’s better than who he is. He will jaw with you about who’s good and what’s good. If he knows that you’re better than he is, he will admit it to himself and will certainly take the steps to fix it and make himself better in that area.”
Allara comes off as a real wisecracker to some, but few can question the guy’s game or credentials.
“If something is wrong, I fix it my own self,” he said. “I hit the ball straight, I hit it long enough.
“Hey, I can remember my first West Virginia State Amateur and I hit the same tree twice on one hole. I went triple bogey, triple bogey, double bogey.
“Face it, I wasn’t playing very good and I kept donating money to golf tournaments.”