NCGA Golf

Spring 2019

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Former U.S. Amateur champion Chan- dler Egan laid out the original Pacific Grove design, which opened in 1932. Peb- ble Beach architect Jack Neville later crafted what is now the ocean-hugging and dunesy back nine when the Coast Guard leased that glorious spit of land in 1960 for the princely annual sum of $1. To this day, "PG" is mostly unsung na- tionally, and fiercely cherished locally. It is simultaneously rough-hewn, quirky and natural. It is municipal. And it is, yard-for- yard, view-for-view and dollar-for-dollar ($50 weekdays for 18 holes), one of the best values in the golf kingdom. It is also home to the Pacific Grove Bandits. For almost 50 years now the colorful and hardy Bandits have coveted, preserved and, ultimately, been granted the first four tee times every Saturday. The original Bandits comprised, among others, a window repairman, a woodshop teacher, a fisherman, a CIA op- erative, a Hollywood insider, a construc- tion worker, an insurance broker and a submariner who doubled as an opera singer. The group also included the Pacific Grove town barber, Leonard Boyns, whose son, Casey, would grow up to become a two-time California State Amateur cham- pion and a member of the NCGA Hall of Fame (see page 44 for more on Casey Boyns). The original Bandits played for nickels, dimes and quarters and their early history is richly anecdotal, if not recorded on tablets. Robert Sanchez, a retired physics teacher, joined the group in 1991 and is the longest-running active member of the current Bandits. He has heard many of the early stories. A few: Leonard Boyns always had a small flask and encouraged everyone in his group to take a drink. Jay Miller, the Hollywooder, continued playing even when his pace- maker's electrodes pulsed a warning. Darryl, the CIA guy whose last name is withheld, had to keep his golf secret even from his wife. Joe Petit, the singer, supplied mid-round arias, solicited and otherwise. "Doesn't every course have a Bandits?" Sanchez said when asked about the origin of the name. Well, maybe not quite like PG's Bandits. A current Bandit once bought a large, stuffed gorilla from a Monterey dump reclamation store and placed it on a bench near the putting green the night before a Saturday round. When he arrived the next morning he was greeted by the sight of several local cops slowly advancing on the "strange looking homeless person" illegally sleeping on said bench. To this day, the Bandits still play less for the loose wagered change than for post-round pride. Membership is by invi- tation but informal and not exclusionary. The Bandits are self-governing but their rules are largely unwritten: Dress code? Whatever. Dues? None. Deep political discussions? Discouraged. Re-telling of the same stories? Tolerated. 36 SPRING 2019 | NCGA.ORG T he temptation, if you don't know any better or just haven't done your homework, is to dismiss Pacific Grove Golf Links as a kind of stepchild to nearby Pebble Beach. Dismiss at your own risk. Members of the Pacific Grove Bandits, from left, Chris Wooley, Charlie Van Meter, Gene Bowden, Jeff Shumacker, Steve Elkins, Sal Balbo, Jon Gerdes, Ron Curry, Vince Carr, Brian Hewitt, Francisco Chavez, Jim Lee, Jim Hall, Jeff Campen, Robert Sanchez and Peter Tansill, gather at the break of dawn on the first tee box before playing the Pacific Grove Golf Links DAVID ROYAL

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