THE DECADE before 1990 ended tragically for us, leaving Southern California after a massive fire destroyed everything we had. We arrived in Yolo County and had lunch at this corner cafe with a view across the street of a quaint little park .
It was so peaceful and everyone was so friendly! It was like a movie and we were going back in time while the stress oozed out of us…
We must have been there for a couple of hours, enjoying the love unleashed to the patrons, and we walked afterward along Main Street finding 19th Century historical buildings and ended at Greenwood’s Department Store.
Everything a person needed was right there… a hardware store, a real estate company, an opera house, a flower shop and fine dining.
We decided to make Winters our home and after settling in, a guy shows up and invites me to play golf at the Yolo Flyers Club with a nut guy who owned some company in town. We had a ball, and the darkness of tragedy dissipated while paradise flourished abound…
The Winters Library offered everything a person needed, and police and fire personnel protected us with graciousness civility. The West Coast’s Biggest Little City had it all, with a very talented staff at the Winters Express and a mayor who shot an excellent game of pool in the back room… It was an era that I’ll remember fondly !
A quarter of a century later we find ourselves in another Biggest Little City, with 21st Century technology trying to replace nature in the great state of Nevada, with a neighbor nearby upon whose gate it that says, “trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again. “
Thank God for a golf course for “Foreplay” not too far away!
IT WAS 1967, and I was fresh off winning the State Collegiate Championships, and Arnold Palmer was the King of Golf .
I checked into Monterey California at a Mormon Bishop’s Ranch for a week of golf at Pebble Beach Resorts. One day, I had a driving contest with Billy Casper when he was 48 and in his prime. I was of course this brash young kid who thought I could take on the world and all of its glory, while Mr. Casper was a large and humble man who swung easy with a tempo a mystro would love.
It was a week of match play and in the finals, the Bishop’s Son had me four holes down with five holes to go when my game showed and I won all five. He said, “It wasn’t meant to be.”
That night, I went on alone!
I checked in at a motel in Carmel and teed off the next morning at the Cypress Point club and played average golf in the woods and exploded onto the 15th tee with hundreds in the gallery behind the green. The ocean was on my right and sea lions played… the temperature was around 70 and the the gallery was humming.
Someone called my name and broke my trance, as there is no finer view in golf. I was in the Sistine Chapel and in slow motion it seemed my 7 iron found its mark as the ball landed and trickled softly into the hole for an ace. The crowd went nuts and I gratefully acknowledged their appreciation as I walked toward the World Famous 16th hole that Clint Eastwood and Jack Lemmon introduced to the world with their antics. Life was suddenly very good !
I birdied 16 and with an ace already on the scorecard, became the first to go Ace on 15 and Deuce on 16, and could not finish with a flourish on the last two holes.
Bing Crosby gave me a dozen autographed balls, and I left to see Jimmy Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival. They were Hallmark moments which stay close to my heart in the 21st Century.
Keep Swinging Easy.