NCGA Golf

Fall 2018

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36 FALL 2018 | NCGA.ORG Jimenez promptly hooks his shot into the trees, and it's a goner. Louis Coughenour, standing nearby, quickly says, "We'll take anyone's money, Carlos," sparking laughter. Dave Townsend, waiting his turn to hit, chimes in, "They really should put up a sign here: Wallets welcome!" This soundtrack punctuates a friendly competition full of history and character, befitting its venue. Gleneagles sits in a rough neighborhood, in the shadow of the Cow Palace. Jets from San Francisco International Airport occasionally rumble overhead. Designed by Jack Fleming and opened in 1962, Gleneagles features twisting, tilted fairways lined by majestic Cypress and eucalyptus trees. Hardpan lies complicate approach shots. The bentgrass-greens are in good condition, seldom flat and end- lessly challenging. And the Rabbit game features a lively, colorful cast. Joe Alvarez is the ringleader, a 76-year- old who smacks the ball with ferocity. John Camozzi, 67, once held the course record and still plays to a 3 handicap. Greg Hall, 55, is the senior club champ with a pro- nounced (and effective) dip in his swing. Jack Yeadaker, also 55, is an amiable interior designer with plenty of game. Just as compelling, perhaps, are the characters not at Gleneagles on this day – Mike Jones, dubbed "the Back Nine Ban- dit" for showing up at the turn and winning money; Steve "Three Bridges" Himes, who routinely drives across three bridges on his round trip from Marin County; and John Derham, who makes the trek from Truckee twice a month. "There's a good mix of old-school San Francisco and a bunch of new guys," says Coughenour, an engineer who lives in nearby Bayview Heights. "It's a great social hub." Alvarez and Co. usually form the lead foursome, heading out shortly after 7:30 a.m. Alvarez began playing at Gleneagles in 1964—yep, more than 50 years ago— and a version of this Saturday morning Rabbit game already existed, with players contributing a quarter to join. Now the buy-in is $5 or $10. Strokes are handed out selectively and begrudgingly – one for an index between 6 and 10, two for 11-to-15, three for 16- and-above. They are called "diapers" rather than strokes, according to Townsend. Play- ers earn a rabbit leg with the low net score on a hole, though their competitors can knock the leg loose by winning subsequent holes. The outcome ultimately comes down to who plays well on the final few O n a pleasant Saturday morning in August, the weekly Rabbit game at San Francisco's Gleneagles Golf Course at McLaren Park reaches the halfway point. Carlos Jimenez, a late arrival, hustles to join his friends as they begin their second trip around the nine-hole layout. Tom Hsieh, who has run the course since 2004, once described Gleneagles as "the speakeasy of golf courses."

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