Maybe the whole golf world is heading in the same direction without my permission but what the heck…my wife’s cat doesn’t listen to me either! Of course a lot of years have passed since I lived in Spain. I left in 1977 and now it’s huh…let me see…oh yea 2013..almost 2014. Maron!
What I remembered as the quiet beautiful environment is now tainted with the noise of golf carts buzzing around the course and club house. They had a starter at a podium directing traffic to the three nines they had at La Quinta Golf Club in Marbella as if it was Doral, (golf’s tourist factory in Miami).
No more caddies! No more caddies! How is a young Spanish kid suppose to get a start in the game if there are No More Caddies! Now the game of golf is reverting to it’s early years when only those with resources could play! The same is happening here.
Kids like me that came from humble beginnings would have a very difficult time getting started in golf today even with the efforts of First Tee and others. Where would Lee Trevino be today if he hadn’t had the opportunities afforded him at public courses in Arizona where a kid could work on the driving range. (Nicklaus and Floyd would probably tell you they should have built a higher fence and kept him back in Mexico and they might have been right)
I started working on the driving range at age 12, and during the summer worked seven days a week. As part of my compensation I would play nine holes with the pro at 2 PM and hit as many balls as I wanted on the range in between duties. My family could not have supported my golf interests no way no how! I had to do it on my own and I’m better for it.
The new kids coming up in Spain are from wealthy families. Nothing against that but isn’t it fun to see some scrappy come up the ranks from the lower economic end of society and make it on their own efforts? (No government assistance or programs) That builds character! In fact, I hear people call me a character all the time?
Starting from the bottom in golf taught me one thing, self reliance and responsibility. I only got out of the game what I put in it. I didn’t get free green fees, I worked for them. Long hours on the range too!
I was lucky enough to spend a week with Jimmy Damerit (click on that link to see a video of Damerit on Youtube) and listen to how he and Hogan would sleep in their cars after driving to a tournament. Now that’s starting from humble beginnings! In fact Damerit told me, “Lopez when you get on tour always get a room on the bottom floor. That way if you miss the cut you can jump out the window. Hogan and I did it plenty of times!”
I say let’s lift child labor laws when it comes to sports. Let the kids that qualify by their behavior, desire and potential earn their way up the ladder by contributing to the game with their sweat and effort. Call them a coach’s assistant or something. Just an opinion?