There was wet snow on the ground this morning…and when we got back from Palm Springs golf vacation last Wednesday, the temperature at Bellingham was minus one degree and the wind was howling at about forty miles per hour! I had to walk across the parking lot in my Palm Springs’ outfit, find my car and wait in line to pay at the toll booth. Needless to say, I had my heavy overcoat on (in the house) all night just trying to thaw out.
Our visit to the Springs was very enjoyable, however, and we got a lot of golf in; almost every other day, I thought. Found a nice course also, called Date Palms Country Club, an executive course that apparently is very popular around that place judging by the green fees. I have decided that my future is in playing “executive courses” as I feel like Bubba Watson and those guys who are hitting sand irons into a four hundred yard hole after their drives. In my case, I can use a three quarter sand iron into a two hundred and sixty yard hole on my second shot!
Anyway, enough of that nonsense. What I really want to write to you about are two extraordinary stories that you’re going to appreciate. It’s fairly long, so go grab a cup of coffee, relax and have a read…
We golfed a course called Shenandoah Golf Club up in Thousand Palms where our Friday golfing buddy Glan spends the winter. His house backs onto the sixth fairway. We get up to the club house and a six-foot four inch dark, black man grabs our golf bags to put on the cart. Glan introduces us…”I’d like you to meet Rafe”. I look up at all six foot four of the guy and asks, “Rafe?….your last isn’t Bots by any chance?” “Yea! he says, that’s me…how the heck did you know?”. “Well”, I continued on, “Do you recall you played Silver Springs Golf & Country Club about thirty years ago and you had a big argument with Al Balding on the seventeenth green?” “Yea, yea, yea…the son of a bitch accused me of breaking the rules by having my caddie hold an umbrella over my head while I was putting!” “Yea, and remember you accused Al of being on your ass all throughout the tournament?” “Do you remember that the problem started when you drove straight across the hill on the third hole onto the other hill: And you and Al had an argument where to place the ball on an unplayable lie?”
So on an on we went recounting the event. Rafe was so thrilled and excited that someone remembered him and also some incidents from his past, that I’m sure he was all smiles for the rest of the day. I asked him if he still golfs and he tells me that he does and proceeds to show me his flawless swing. He seems to have some kind of a leg problem though as he doesn’t move around too well. Even though he’s just a spring chicken at age seventy-two.
I can’t remember what PGA tournament it was; whether it was the Alberta Open or maybe the Canadian Open where the likes of Al Balding and Moe Norman would have played. Anyhow, Sliver Springs discontinued (voted out) hosting these outside tournaments shortly after that. Were you guys around during those “Al Balding” days?
With Rafe Bots fresh in my mind and reflecting how far down he had gone after a professional golfing career (Shenandoah is an executive course that, Glan tells me, is in bankruptcy), I was looking through Lumpy’s golf map and noticed Tommy Jacobs Bellaire Golf Course.
Tommy Jacobs who used to be on the PGA tour was the head professional and teacher at the La Costa resort in Carlsbad, CA. The very first time I ever took a golf lesson was from Tommy Jacobs at La Costa and I still remember him apologizing for having to charge me twenty dollars for a half-hour lesson!
Anyhow, thinking that I could parlay this golf trip into a couple of unbelievable reminiscence regarding golf professionals (after Rafe, of course), we hoofed it over to the Tommy Jacobs golf course. While we were walking from the parking lot to the club house, I was noticing how dilapidated, run down and indifferent atmosphere around the place. I was feeling a little dejected wondering if all these golf pros end up like this. I walked into the pro shop and asked if I could speak to Tommy Jacobs but the guy tells me that Tommy sold the place six years ago and is now in North Carolina. Whew! What a relief! The trip might have been a waste of time but I was relieved to know that not all golf professionals end up as caddies…