Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


It finally happened! At this point in my life I was beginning to despair that I would ever experience the thrill of the moment.

          Yes, I finally made a hole-in-one! This coveted shot that all golfers long for is now checked off my list of things to accomplish in life, or what is commonly referred to as a person’s “bucket list.”

          Last week my brother, John, flew out from Virginia to join me in a marathon of golf which we have been known to do from time to time. We have been planning this trip for months. My brother refers to us as being “golf junkies.” Our step father introduced us to this ancient of games when we were kids and it has stuck. I still remember the times the three of us would play a round together, using all types of clever ways to psych the other ones out so as to gain an edge and thereby win the round. Bragging rights would be upheld until the next round was played.

          Those of you who live in my area of Central California are all too aware of the extreme weather we had last week. Wow! What a mess. Gale force winds, rain in buckets, hail and sleet, and cold. But like the postman’s creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” we laughed at the elements and soldiered on. We’ve played in worse conditions than this!

          I picked John up at the San Francisco Airport (SFO) just after noon on Tuesday. We arrived back in Ripon and went straight to Spring Creek Golf and Country Club. We managed to get in 18 holes before heading to the house. We had a delightful time with family all coming over to visit.

          Last October for “Pastor Appreciation Month” I was presented with a certificate for two people for two days of golf and an overnight stay in one of the bungalows at the Saddle Creek Resort in Copperopolis. Since my wife, Isaura is not a golfer, she suggested I use this gift with my brother, under the condition that I would then take her to Monterey soon.

          The next morning John and I drove to Saddle Creek to meet up with two friends, Dave and Hank, for a 9:00 tee time. The course was beautiful and also quite challenging. You did not want to have your ball stray from the fairway or you’d find yourself in trouble. We worked in two rounds that day, finally getting caught by a rain storm during the second round that afternoon. That evening after a hot shower and dry clothes, we all met for dinner at a restaurant nearby.

          The next morning we were up and at it again. After breakfast we went to the first tee box to start our round. Dave and Hank were planning to leave after this morning round, but we would be joined in the afternoon round by Tony and my grandson Daniel. The afternoon round was going well but Tony and Daniel decided to head out at the end of the 10th hole, wanting to get back to Ripon before the anticipated afternoon storm hit. Undaunted and indefatigable, John and I pressed on to complete the final round at Saddle Creek.

          As John maneuvered our golf cart to the 14th hole, we immediately noticed a rafter of wild turkeys sauntering across the tee box. There were ten hens and two toms, both of which were spreading their tail feathers in all their splendor. We quickly took some pictures with our cell phones. While my brother was still fussing over the turkeys, I stepped up to the tee and proceeded to take my shot on this 185 yard hole. I used a three iron and immediately knew I’d hit a good shot. I watched it land on the front of the green but could not follow it after that. The sky was darkening as the afternoon was waning, and the storm clouds continued to threaten. John then made his shot which was just short of the green.

          When we drove up to the green we easily saw John’s ball sitting there, but there was no sign of my ball. I looked over the entire green but there was no white Titleist ball. I assumed I’d hit the ball more firmly than I’d expected, so I grabbed my sand wedge and walked to the back of the green fully expecting to see the ball lying in the bunker. But, No! There was no ball in the sand trap. I stood there musing over this, concluding that since I had seen the flight of the ball all the way to the green, and it wasn’t anywhere in sight, then it had to be in the hole.

          With a fair amount of trepidation I approached the flag stick, looking into the hole. Could it be? Yes! There it was, my ball lying there in the cup smiling up at me (or at least it seemed that way to me). I stood by the flag looking at my brother who was busy preparing himself to make his shot, all the while oblivious to my discovery. He finally looked up at me and noticed the Cheshire cat grin on my face. He said, “Is it in the cup?” I nodded in the affirmative.

          We took a few quick pictures then headed for the next hole since daylight was rapidly becoming an issue. To record an ace you have to play a complete round of golf. We walked off the eighteenth green with very little light left. In fact the club house was completely closed. So we loaded our clubs in my car and began our drive home.

          We had a wonderful time, but to have made my first hole-in-one playing with my brother was the pièce de résistance!

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