The Honorable Judge David Harbour – 1939-2020

We lost a treasure Thursday, November 19th. David Harbour passed away in Scottsdale. He hasn’t left us; he’ll carry us through good times and difficult times with the memory of his irrepressible determination fronted with his disarming, yet highly contagious smile. David played golf in our group for many years. Everyone that met him fell in love with him. He was a friend to all. He enriched the life of each and every person he met.

Born in September of 1939 in Duncan, Oklahoma, David was an outstanding athlete and an outstanding student. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma and went on to a successful law career. He later became a judge in Oklahoma even serving as Judge pro tempore on the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

He was a fine artist with oils and water-colors. He was an avid patron of the performing arts. My wife, Liz, and I spent many evenings at live music performances of different genres. He often asked us to join him at music venues that began after nine o’clock at night, but we’d usually decline because he was much younger than we were, even though he was quite a bit older. It seems no one told him to walk slower as the years went by.

David was always up for the challenge. He joined us for golf and oyster eating fests in Mexico. He didn’t hesitate for play golf with us at 7,500 feet in the mountains. When he made up his mind he was going to do something, you’d stand a better chance of staring down a rodeo bull than trying to get in David’s way.

His smile was magic. His heart was huge. His mind was as sharp as a razor’s edge. His embrace was open to all. David Harbour was a hero and a friend to all of us. His strength of character was never more evident than when he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved wife, Janet in 2013. He was kind, caring, thoughtful, and loving. It’s also noteworthy that David made the best rum-cake known to mankind.

At the risk of going too far, I’m going to suggest that you watch the animated film “Coco”. Few Americans have a good understanding of the Mexican holiday el “Dia de Muertos”. “Coco” is a movie about that holiday. It is delightful and educational. Frankly, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. If I can summarize the message from “Coco” and el Dia de Muertos, it is this: Those that have gone before us attain immortality as long as we the living remember them.

David Harbour will live on for many generations through our actions and memories of his kindness, his work ethic, his love for his fellow man. Over the years, I have passed some of the lessons I’ve learned from David’s example on to my children and my friends. They have passed them on to their families and friends. “The Judge” will live on for generations to come.

Fall Golf in the Mountains

What a wonderful golf trip! Samir Sleiman, Joe Busch, and David Hughes joined with me to take on three of the super golf tracks in the White Mountains of Arizona. Show Low’s Torreón is an extremely challenging layout. Its difficulty is made tolerable by its beauty. Cut out of the tall Ponderosa pine forest, Torreón will give any golfer all he can handle and then some. When we retreated to our lodgings Friday evening, we felt more like we’d just gone 15 rounds with the champion. Did we finish as champs or chumps? You be the judge. We survived.

Snow made putting a challenge

Saturday, we moved up the mountain to Pinetop Lakes Country Club at 7,400 feet above sea level. It’s an interesting and challenging track, but most of all, it’s a fun course. We all enjoyed ourselves and followed up the round with pizza and beer on my patio near the 11th green.

Sunday, thanks to Mike Smothermon, we returned to the world of golf challenges. White Mountain Country Club is an exclusive, private club founded in 1954 by (among others) the Goldwater family and their friends and accomplices. It has drawn some great golf members like Tom Weiskopf, Tom Purtzer, Bob Goldwater, and Mike Smothermon. Breathtakingly beautiful, WMCC offers eighteen challenging holes. We battled 35 mph winds and cool temperatures, but it was well-worth the time. With the winds covering the greens with as much as an inch of pine needles, putting was problematic. Joe Busch solved the putting challenge by hitting approach shots into the bunker and then throwing thirty-yard sand shots directly into the hole. In extremely difficult playing conditions, Joe managed to finish the day by carding an even par 36 on the back nine to cap a super day of golf.

Monday morning, I awoke and glanced out the window toward the 11th green on PLCC. What I saw is shown in the picture above. It had just started and piled on for another three hours. Time to return to Scottsdale.

Here are a few shots of Joe, Samir, and David battling at Torreón on Friday.

¡Viva México!

JZ0A0914Eighteen of us left Scottsdale on the morning of January 2nd. We were bound for Puerto Peñasco, Mexico for a couple of rounds of golf at one spectacular Jack Nicklaus designed course. Thursday’s Tournament was won by Kathy Thompson when she ran away from the field winning by 10 points over second place finisher, Troy Jarvis. The second day’s tournament belonged to Samir Sleiman. He walked away from second place winner, Troy Jarvis, by 9 points.

However, steady wins the race. Troy Jarvis’ consistent play made him the overall champion. Troy averaged 79 in his two days of play. Troy easily outdistanced the second place finisher, Samir Sleiman, racking up 54 points to Samir’s 41.

This was no easy task. Jack Nicklaus was apparently fighting with someone when he designed the course. Although it is magnificently beautiful, it is a tough, tough track. There were only four birdies in two days of play. The average gross score was 102! The average to handicap was more than 11 strokes over the top. One and only one of the 28 rounds was at handicap. It is a great, but challenging course. One thing that all participants agree upon is that it takes balls, lots of them, to play Vidanta.

Here are some pictures of the tournament and a few thrown in of the dinners. Clicking on any of the images enlarges them for your viewing pleasure (or chagrin).

Gender War

Gender War (5 of 53)
Howard Jones and Harold Hoeg (the vanquished) and Phyllis Laschuk and Karen Stevison (the conquerors)

They bring us into the world. They nurture us, feed us, take care of us. Our first hugs come from the women we call Mom. They wipe away our tears and tend our bumps and bruises. They are our protectors, our guardians. I’m not yet sure what went wrong, but yesterday’s Gender War didn’t go according to the script.

In what has all the earmarks of an annual event, those known for having “sugar and spice and everything nice” kicked the living hell out of those of us constituted of “snips and snails and puppy dog tails.”

The women squared off against the men in a series of head-to-head match play contests. The ladies prevailed. In the opening match, I faced the diminutive Phyllis Laschuk of Vancouver, British Columbia. I thought to myself, “This really isn’t fair. A man of my experience level charged with the task of abusing a wisp of a woman who would need to seek the shelter of her golf bag if the wind blew.” I only hoped I didn’t embarrass her; she seemed like such a nice girl.

After five holes, I was four down. She turned me every which way but loose as she toyed with me. She carded a gross 73 on the day and buried my hopes of winning by the 15th hole. I felt like I was at the State Fair locked in a cage with a 700 pound wrestling bear.

The day’s second match wasn’t much better for the men. Harold Hoeg, a fine golfer and an outstanding competitor tenaciously battled Karen Stevison, but by the 12th hole, found himself two down. He mounted his charge. On the difficult 12th hole, he hit an excellent drive and put his second shot within inches of the hole for a tap-in birdie. His opponent had put her second shot five yards over the green into the tall rough. Everyone knew Harold was about to get within one hole of tying the match … well, everyone except Karen. With the confidence of a street corner preacher, she announced, “Well, I guess I’ll have to run this in.”

It’s a fine line between optimism and delusion and I wasn’t sure which side of the line she was on. I knew she had to hit a pretty good shot just to get it on the green. Putting it in the hole was beyond pipe dream. She put it in the hole!

Harold had nearly eagled one of the toughest holes on the course and lost the hole to go three down with six to play. The air leaked violently from Harold’s balloon. He fought valiantly for the last six holes, but it was an exercise in futility.

Things didn’t get much better as subsequent groups turned their cards in to the scorekeeper. The only matches the men really dominated were those where one man played against another.

As the competitors warmed up on the range, one of the grounds crew captured a snake. It got away so I helped by running over and picking it up. I placed it in a box. The snake hissed at me and tried to bite me. At the time, I didn’t view the event as a portent of what was about to happen. Next time, I’ll let the snake run free and hope for the best. “Sugar and spice and everything nice”? Don’t be fooled. Put a seven-iron in her hand and you have created a ruthless predator.

Here are a few pictures from the day’s event. You can click on any of the images to enter the “slide show” mode.

A Lovely Day for a Walk

20190215 JGolf (22 of 68)Friday’s golf was as bad as Wednesday’s golf was good. They lit it up on the Ambiente course Wednesday, but it was the heart of the dark ages on the Padre course Friday. We needed one blind draw, but nearly everyone tried out for the part playing and putting as if blindfolded. The average score was more than six strokes higher than the previous match’s average. For those who believe Padre is easier than Ambiente, think again!

Nonetheless, it was a great day for a walk. Here are some of the people I found in my meanderings. It was great to see one golfer get off the injured reserve list. Pat Collins played his first round in more than three months. Welcome back.

As usual, a click on an image enlarges it and puts you in the slide show mode.


Sometimes You Can’t Catch a Break – Sometimes You Can!

JGolf20190213 (56 of 129)Some great golf yesterday! Jack Summers carded a gross 79 and wasn’t within ten strokes of the lead! Chip Nelson shot a strong 68 (isn’t that redundant?) while Hans Birkholz and Mike Smothermon each recorded 75s. Lee Mitchell was right on their heels with a 78.

But the round of the day was turned in by Ron Dobkin who fired a net 63 to take low net honors (and a lot of money). That should come as no surprise when considering that his partner, Hans Birkholz, turned in a net 64.

Continue reading “Sometimes You Can’t Catch a Break – Sometimes You Can!”

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.

Continue reading “They Sacrificed for You”

High in the Pines

Pinetop Golf (12 of 66)
Our gracious hosts, Mike and Vicky Smothermon

Pinetop, Arizona was the site of some fun golf and great camaraderie this past weekend. More than a dozen Camelback Golf Club members and some additional friends and family played golf at more than 7,200 feet high in the mountains where long drives went longer than ever. Participants played one or more of some great courses.

Torreon offered magnificent views and a course to test any golfer’s skills. Silver Creek was a great layout with eighteen challenging and beautiful holes. Pinetop Lakes Country Club was a scenic test of golfing skill. Finally, the historic White Mountain Country Club gave every golfer breathtaking views and some monumental tests of golfing skills.

Being a gracious host for dinner and golf must pay rewards in golfer heaven. Mike Smothermon carded at 75 Monday at White Mountain Country Club, but his wife, Vicky, finished with a strong round of 79 (net 64) to more than hold her own. Mike shot a 69 on Sunday giving him low gross honors two days in a row. Continue reading “High in the Pines”

All Hail! The Cup is Home

The CupFor the first time in three years, The Camel Cup has been brought home. With sixteen spirited and competitive individual matches and eight tough team matches, the team from Camelback Golf Club defeated Gainey Ranch 15-9 on the Padre course. Camelback golfers had the edge 9-7 in the individual matches. They also prevailed 6-2 in the team matches.

Gainey’s Sam Engel took home low gross honors with a strong 67 from the White tees. Sam’s opponent, Chip Nelson, threw four birdies at him, but he couldn’t quite overcome Sam’s six birdies and fell to Sam one down.

Continue reading “All Hail! The Cup is Home”