Sometimes I love the game of golf; other times not so much and I have Mr. Chambers to blame for that. Mr. and Mrs. Chambers lived next door to us when I was growing up. Mr. Chambers was a retired North Dakota farmer who found San Diego’s weather to his liking and loved the proximity of our Golden Hill neighborhood to the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course.
About the time I booted myself our of the Cub Scouts, Mr. Chambers was kind enough to buy me half a set of kid-sized clubs. Someone else got the preferred half set that included irons 3, 5, 7 and 9 along with a driver, three wood and putter. That left me with the 2, 4, 6 and 8 irons, plus the two and four woods and a putter plucked from the bargain bin.
After my first few rounds and some basics on golf ethics provided by Mr, Chambers, I was on my own. With my golf bag slung over my shoulder, it was about a 30 minute walk to the starters booth at the little nine hole course. If I took the time to scout for lost balls in the canyons that border the ninth hole, the trek could last an hour.
Upon arriving at the starters booth, I’d sign-up and wait to see who I’d be paired with and since the little par 32 course was the ideal mecca for senior citizens, I often found myself in the company of older men or women willing to put up with me as I struggled to learn the game. In time I was scoring well enough on the nine hold course to be allowed to play the much tougher 18 hole track.
Once I got started, a number of friends began playing as well, some better and some worse than I. For some it became their primary sports passion, but for me golf was more of an afterthought to the recreational sports and games we played at the adjacent Golden Hill Playground. Even today, and as much as I enjoy the game and the people I play with, golf is something I turn to when I can’t go hunting or fishing.
On a professional level, I served as the Assistant Superintendent for the Golf/Lakes Division of the City of San Diego’s Park and Recreation Department from 1974 until 1981, though my work was pretty much 90% the Lakes Section of the Division with 10% devoted to the Golf Section. The latter entailed 36 holes at Torrey Pines, 27 holes at Balboa Park and numerous rescue operations of leased courses on city-owned properties. When the lessees failed in their operations we stepped in to restore and maintain courses that included Mission Trails, Tecolote Canyon, Mission Bay and Colina until new operators could be found.0