They Sacrificed for You

Peñasco Golf Trip (5 of 55)As the caravan approached the border, armed guards braced for its arrival. The disparate group of refugees was hopeful they could talk their way through the barrier. As Hans Birkholz dutifully scanned the wall for breaks in the concertina wire, David Harbour and Mike Forde rehearsed the plan. “If Jones pisses them off, we tell them he’s a hired driver and we had no idea that trying to cross the border with a loose-cannon violated Mexican laws against arms importation.” The last car in the caravan carried Dave and Lauri Allen poised to retreat at the first sign of discord on the frontera.

The crossing went as planned as Jones’ charm instantly disarmed all the guards at the border. Their AR-15s remained lowered and they waved us through with smiles on their faces. We were in!

Peñasco Golf Trip (1 of 55)We quickly checked into our barracks at the Puesta del Sol Hotel and immediately went to a secret location five miles southeast of town. Restaurante El Barco was a wooden shack on a beach a couple miles off the road. They promptly provided our team of commandos with eleven dozen oysters on the half-shell and twenty Xs. With two Xs on each bottle, that amounted to ten beers. The oysters were positively delectable and the entire eleven dozen cost less than two dozen had they been purchased in Scottsdale. The image to the right is of Commandante Jones and Commandante Allen reviewing the plans for the next four days.

Peñasco Golf Trip (2 of 55)The team relaxed until the following morning when they convened at a German restaurant for breakfast. If that doesn’t sound suspicious enough, check out the expression on Lauri Allen’s face while she previews the plan for the day while doing everything possible to appear that she’s reading a menu.

After a great breakfast, it was time to head onto the field of battle, Vidanta Golf Course, a spectacular layout designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son.  The picture was taken upon our arrival. Jones, Harbour and Forde are all smiles at this point, but they didn’t know the intensity with which they were about to be attacked. They teed off and the assault was Peñasco Golf Trip (9 of 55)on. The battle had been joined. Frankly, we were flogged. The course laid siege from the beaches, the air, the under-brush, the hillsides and from the many traps that had been placed in our path. Nicklaus’ approach was obviously, “Let there be no survivors.” There weren’t. The campo-de-golf slaughtered us after repulsing each advance we offered.

We returned to the barracks after losing our balls one at a time all across the field of battle. Some of us medicated, others (such as Dave and Lauri) indulged in various forms of physical rehabilitation. Later that evening, we reconvened our strategic planning Peñasco Golf Trip (8 of 55)committee meeting, this time at La Curva, Peñascos finest for traditional Sonoran Mexican food. We recharged and did what we could to prepare to launch our counter attack the following morning.

Again on Saturday, the course emerged victorious. We fared better than we had the previous day, but in the end, we were still forced to raise the white flag of surrender. Vidanta was better than we were and still stands like the summit of K-2, all but invincible. But being a hard-headed bunch of upstarts, we intend on trying again. It’s one of the most beautiful courses on the planet and it will give any and every golfer, regardless of ability, all he or she can handle. Each hole is unique with its own character. We were merely its victims.

All in all, even though the course won every battle, it was a great four days. We had great golf, great food (and a little bit of crappy food), great weather, great scenery and fantastic oysters. We’ll be back. Here are a few pictures from the front.


Hey Scrooge – Can I Have Word with You?

ScroogeIt’s the holiday season. It’s a time when warm and fuzzy phrases abound. “Good will to men. Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Peace on Earth.” The list goes on. One phrase I heard incessantly from my mother as I was growing up was, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Even old hard-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge lightened up and made Tiny Tim’s day. Never mind that he probably evicted the family after the holidays passed. The less fortunate have needs for things some of us take for granted, especially at this time of year.

Speaking of the less fortunate, let’s remember our staff and servers at Camelback Golf Club. We’re incredibly fortunate to have a great group of people working hard to keep us happy. For many of us, life is tough. A few of us actually still have to “work”, albeit usually more for ego gratification than for further financial gain. Our lives are filled with tragedies like bogeys, frost delays, and lost balls, but we endure.

On the other side of the metaphorical world, there are people who would be delighted if a bogey was their biggest worry. These people actually have to produce income in order to put food on the table for their families. Some of us remember those days fondly, but don’t yearn to return to them. For us, it’s easy to forget that those working to keep our pleasure rides moving forever forward are doing so not for the pure joy of seeing us. They’re doing it for the money … the money they need to buy groceries, to pay the bills, to stay warm and to save for the future – a future that will hopefully be at least half as comfortable as ours.

Let’s take care of our servers. They work for almost no pay. They depend upon our generosity to get over the top. In the case of our golf group, they serve a couple dozen people. They keep track of our individual bills. They clean up after us. They do their best to make us happy. And somehow through some miracle channel I have never understood, they smile throughout the process. I damn sure couldn’t do it.

Sometimes they go far out of their way to help. For example, after one particularly dismal performance on the golf course, one golfer took a scorecard and tore it into little pieces. The detritus was left on the table for Sam to clean up. Upon my arrival following Scorecardour next round of golf, there sat the rotten scorecard skillfully reconstructed and taped back together. Sam thought we might need it. How much better service can you get?

We go out and knock a five dollar golf ball into the lake and think nothing of it. Yet to leave a little expression of our gratitude for our wait staff sometimes seems like a major financial conundrum. Do I tip 15% or 20% on a five dollar tab? OMG! Who’s got change for a quarter?

Here’s another point. Members get certain libations for free. Iced tea, coffee, bottled water, etc. If your tab totals zero dollars, have some sense. 20% of zero is still zero. Yet your server has pleasantly greeted you, shuttled your free drinks to the table, served munchies at no charge, brought you a refill and cleaned up your mess after your departure. And done it for free! Yea, go ahead, double the tip; leave 40%, big spender.

Show these people you appreciate them. Get the death grip off your wallet and say thank you in a way that can truly help. They work because they need to work, not because it’s such a joy to see our sour faces. They work to feed their families. Let’s put a smile on their faces for a change.