MY GOLFING BUDDIES IN PAST 50 YEARS
When I first arrived to the Orange Area back in 1966, I brought my old set of golf clubs that I hadn’t used much in almost a decade while I was attending McNeese State and then playing pro baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Between settling into my new job as assistant sports editor and outdoor editor of the Orange Leader and my new home town, dust continued to grow on those golf clubs.
At some social function during my first couple of years in Orange I ran into who turned out to be my best buddy Dr. Jack Couvillion, who first introduced me to the game of bridge, which he was teaching at the Community Center, and later invited me to play golf with him on weekends.
Ironically, 50 years later, only golf and bridge remain in my repertoire of extra- curricular activities. Gone are the days of playing tournament softball, playing and coaching baseball and playing in United States Volleyball Association tournaments in Texas and Louisiana.
I continued playing volleyball and softball until my teammates made fun of me for bringing my grandkids to the tournaments. So, all I have left is golf and bridge, both of which have several tournaments during the year.
Over the years I played in many more golf tournaments than bridge events but have participated in many more bridge tourneys than golf in the last five years.
Besides those four-hour golf rounds at both DERA and Sunset Grove Country Club, I also played at the Heard family’s White Oaks course in Little Cypress where you saw more snakes than golf balls in the rough and the one in Vidor which has had many different names.
I got to meet many partners and opponents along the way. Some turned out to be real characters and fun to be around. Many of them are playing the golf course in the sky.
Jack Couvillion—the only person I would allow to call me “Joe Baby” taught me some of “the secrets of golf” and rarely missed a tee-off time on weekends. We walked at DERA the first couple of years until he bought a cart. I reciprocated in his last few years by inviting him to play at the country club in my cart.
Joe Grossman—The retired jeweler always hated to “pay off” at the end of the round. His favorite saying was “Don’t screw with a New York Jew.”
Bert Hauver—The manager of the Fair Store would even be more difficult coming up with his dime and hole losses.
Art Olshefsky—His voice could be heard in Vidor. He had such weird golf words such as “acumpucky” when an iron shot would check up on the green and “jeezel bezel” when he hit a bad shot.
Ken Winner—He was always in a hurry to finish the round so he could get home and mow his lawn.
Dub Nobles—He would pump his golf club before every shot like he was expecting water to start flowing.
Tibby Thibodeaux—His most consistent hit was his “Oh no shot” which went in a different direction than where he was aiming.
Bob Cockerill—He played with us for a while until health issues shut him down.
Reese Littlefield—He was the “course philosopher” who offered solutions for almost every golf course malady.
Mickey Bergeron—It was fun to make fun of him at Sunset Grove. His money game consisted of “reggies, greenies, sandies and polies.”. And he monitored them with an iron hand. He’s gone (moved many years ago) but certainly not forgotten.
Craig Couvillion—He had sort of taken over for his dad as far as us playing every weekend. For many years he had a sign hanging from the inside front of his cart which read “No Excuses.”
Bob Hoepner—His golf partners wonder why he always runs his cart in the rough and around the ponds until December comes and he presents us with a couple dozen used golf balls with the brand names we play as our Christmas presents.
Ed Keller—When he still was an active FBI agent, his claim to fame was when he boomed a drive which knocked down a 15-foot tree limb 150 yards away and then kept going for another 50 yards.
Bob Hood—He was a true-blue member of Sunset’s Thundering Herd which disbanded shortly after he moved from Orange to San Antonio earlier this year.
Ken Ruane—Besides being an “Iron Man” for participating in 26-mile marathons, he also is the only member of Sunset Grove who lost his cart in the flood and instead of buying another one, opted to walk 18 holes just about every day.
Jim Rodda—He also was a “regular” Herd member until he upped and moved to Georgetown earlier this year.
Karen Peery—She was so much fun playing in those Sunday Scrambles 20 years ago. She rewarded every team member with a hug whenever a birdie was made.
Jack Burke—The 15-year-old LCM phenom really enjoys playing weekend golf with us senior citizens. He’s sharpening up his game for the upcoming junior tournaments.
Ray “Mario” Dal Sasso—He played at noon with us until he realized he was the only Herd member that was more than 90 years old, so he retired his golf clubs.
Myra Morris—She liked playing in the Sunday Scrambles, but got mad at me when I hit a 200-yard drive near the cart path that bopped a squirrel and sent him to “Squirrel Heaven.”
There are so many more golfers that I either played with or against at both DERA and Sunset Grove who I haven’t named due to column length constraints. For that I apologize.
KWICKIES…It’s not a big surprise that Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine picks the West Orange-Stark Mustangs as the team to beat in Class 4A Division II this season. For the past four years the Mustangs’ season has stretched into the December state championship game, winning two straight titles while amassing their amazing 40- game winning streak which was ended by Pleasant Grove in last year’s state championship game. The ‘Stangs might have a hard time making Campbell’s prediction look good with only seven starters returning.
The Houston Astros’ winning streak on the road ended with a big thud as they visited Tampa Bay last weekend and won only the first game of a four-game series. Houston scored only seven runs during the series—all on home runs. Their “Big Three”—Jason Verlander, Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole –pitched well enough to win but didn’t. In fact, Verlander was the only one whose ERA went up with the losses. And while the Astros were losing three in a row, the Seattle Mariners were winning and reduced Houston’s lead in the AL West to a skimpy one-half game through Sunday.
Francesco Molinari ran away with the PGA Tour Quicken Loans National, firing a near-record 62 in Sunday’s final round and winning the event by eight shots—the largest margin of victory this year. The Italian’s runaway victory began when he made a 50-foot eagle putt on No. 10 and scored three more birdies for the rout.
All the presses were stopped and the sports shows on television halted for the bulletin that LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a four-year $154 million contract with the desperate Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron said he really wanted to play with a team run by Magic Johnson. Many Lakers’ fans don’t believe James’ presence will get the team to the championship round while the abandoned fans in Cleveland are saying “good riddance.”
JUST BETWEEN US…The Seattle Seahawks may soon be on their knees begging Orange’s Earl Thomas to accept a contract extension if the rumor is true about strong safety Kam Chancellor’s plans to retire soon. Chancellor’s severe neck injury could result in permanent paralysis if he injures it again. His retirement would leave Earl as the only veteran in the Seahawks’ defensive backfield.