Spring 2019

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M eet Eddie Nolen and Marla Day. You're going to want to live vicariously through these two. Nolen and Day are the unofficial king and queen of NCGA golf, having logged the most rounds in the 2018 calendar year. For Nolen, it was 312 rounds at Chowchilla's Pheas- ant Run Golf Club. "Felt like I played every day," says Nolen, who turns 70 in June. "The days I missed must have been doctor's appointments." True story. Nolen likely won't defend his title in 2019 as back surgery sidelined him in February. He's handling it well, says he'll be off the D.L. in the latter half of this year. In the meantime, "I can look out at 14 fairway and flip off the guys I used to play with," Nolen cracks. For Day, it was 231 rounds at Fig Garden GC in Fresno, which has since closed its course. No truth to the rumor that Day and her husband, Stan, wore out the grass at Fig Garden, necessitating its closure. Day says her golf fanaticism is a product of a marriage contract of sorts. "When I first met my husband, he told me I had to learn how to play," says Day, 68, a retired former gov- ernment worker in Fresno who's been married for 46 years. "So my husband and I enjoy being together. "Besides, he's not going out for four or five hours and leaving me to clean house." Stan Day, meanwhile, is probably reading this and licking his chops to be the king of NCGA golf in 2019. He logged 299 rounds in 2018. Nolen will not reach 300 rounds this year, but only because of the back. The mind is more than willing. So is his regular group – Steve Lawrence, Jim Sheppard, and 84-year-old Don Coleman. Nolan's golf cart is waiting, too. It's got a heater and a cover top, and room for Nolen to hook his smart phone up to a speaker, from which he plays blues music during his rounds. "It relaxes me," Nolen says. Sounds like we could all use a dose of Nolen's seren- ity, now. He's been as low as a 7 handicap, and shot a round of 75 last year. "I know all the nooks and crannies at Pheasant Run," he says. "All the breaks." If it sounds like Nolen's got a good thing going, it's because he does. If anyone can relate it's Day, whose career-low round is 96. "So, it's not great golf," she says. "But it's a lot of golf." The Days installed a net in their backyard to keep the never-ending pursuit of improvement nearby. The closing of Fig Garden has made them move their games to Belmont GC in Fresno, so new knowledge is always good. Will Day perhaps pursue some ladies' tournaments at her new club? "Oh, no," she says with a good-hearted laugh. "Most of the ladies are too slow." Day knows whereof she speaks. She and Stan often play in two hours, 15 minutes. Her secret to getting around the course quickly is simple: she bakes cookies for the groups that let her play through. "So, bribery does work," Day says. Nolen says he and his crew take three and a half to four hours from their standard 8:30 a.m. tee time. On hot days, it's sunscreen and cold towels for the necks. If they're feeling good, maybe sneak in another nine. If they're feeling real good, another 18, even. Why not? The retired heavy-equipment operator knows how lucky he is to be with friends, chasing the little white ball. "It's the ideal," Nolen says. "It's a game you want to master, but it's impossible to master. It's something to try to get better at, but by the time you shoot a good score, the next day, the good ol' 'Golf Gods' will take it away from you. "I don't get too frustrated at all. I accept it for what it is, and get ready for tomorrow." Just another day of living the dream. Brian Murphy hosts the KNBR morning show "Murph and Mac" and was the San Francisco Chronicle's golf writer from 2001–04. 88 SPRING 2019 | NCGA.ORG M U R P H Y ' S L A W Golf, 8 Days a Week BY BRIAN MURPHY If your significant other complains that you play too much golf, clip and show them this story. Then call Eddie Nolen and Marla Day and thank them for being the NCGA's biggest golf junkies.

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