NCGA Golf

Winter 2018

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Steve and Stefan von Seeger, Rancho Murieta Country Club S tefan von Seeger distinctly remembers watching his dad, Steve, win the club championship at Rancho Murieta CC in 1995. Stefan was 10 years old at the time and already a talented player. "Growing up, my dad was the biggest golfer I knew," says Stefan. "Even back when I was a kid, I aspired to be a club champion, just like he was." At 32, he was able to turn that aspiration into reality. Stefan moved back to his hometown of Rancho Murieta last June and joined the country club two weeks prior to the championship. He and his fiancé were looking for a quiet and slower-paced lifestyle, compared to the on-the-go mentality of their previous home in downtown Sacramento. Another part of the move back was being able to spend time with dear ol' dad, and play a few holes or practice together after work. "Which is something we did a lot when I was a kid," Ste- fan says. "It's just a good feeling to be able to do that now." Another good feeling: Adding his name to the same tro- phy his father won back when Stefan was 10 years old. The club championship at Rancho Murieta spans two weekends and is a grueling match-play format with a 36-hole final. Stefan came into it playing well, which carried over to the competition as he closed out most of his matches by the 16th hole. While his father did not compete in the championship this year, perhaps in a twist of fate, Stefan did have to play against a "Steve" in the finals. Steve Jones, a talented golfer and a former club champion in his own right, is a scrappy player with deft touch around the greens. His grinder men- tality pushed the final to 36 holes versus the younger, long- hitting Stefan. Going into the 36th hole with a 1-up lead, Stefan was able to close it out after his opponent found a fairway bunker. He joined his father as a club champion. "That was a really big deal in our house when my dad won; I was so proud of him," Stefan says. "I'm really close with my dad and it's certainly special to have both our names on the trophy." Cathy and Ross Smith R o ss Smith could tell you some stories. The 93-year-old World War II vet- eran, who upon returning home, served as captain of San Jose State's lone NCAA national championship in golf in 1948, has much to be proud of as a golfer. But he'd rather sing the praises of his daughter, Cathy, whom he taught to play the game at a time when "not many young girls were playing golf," he says. B efore Cathy was born, Ross twice won the Pacific Grove City Champi- onship, contested on the historic Pacific Grove Golf Links. Over the years, the City Championship dissolved, and left space for the emergence of the Pacific Grove Club and Pacific Grove Women's Club Championships. In 2014, more than 60 years after her dad last won at Pacific Grove, Cathy, 66, won the club championship herself. "When I told my father that I won the women's championship, he says, 'That's great, but I've won it twice,' " Cathy says, with a laugh. "So the chal- lenge was on to see if I could win it a second time and equal him. I'm proud to say that happened this year, and he was very pleased about it." It was also a proud moment for the father who taught his son and daughter the game. "He was absolutely the biggest influence in me taking up the game," Cathy says. "As I got a little older and moved away from home, I would come back on Christmas to visit and we'd always go play. He'd correct my swing and be happy to point out any flaws he saw. He was a tough coach!" Ross also had great influence on Cathy's life beyond the golf course. His military service was, in part, what inspired her to begin working with the Department of Veteran Affairs, where she rose to Executive Director. Over the course of her career, Cathy oversaw the distribution of benefits to veterans in several large markets such as Denver, the state of Connecticut and Northern California. "Shortly before I retired, we were starting to come through with a number of different activities for disabled veterans. Skiing was a big one when I was at the Denver office, and it started to expand. Golf was one of the expansions," Cathy says. "I personally didn't have anything to do with that, but I knew of it. It has continued to grow more and more. It's true that golf has provided an outlet for some of our disabled vets as they're coming back and trying to figure out how they're going to complete their lives." Now that she's retired, Cathy gets to appreciate her father's company and reflect on the many ways he's impacted her life. "He has been so influential in all parts of my life," she says. "To share this club championship with him, it means more than words can say." Cathy and Ross Smith Steve and Stefan von Seeger NCGA.ORG | WINTER 2018 47

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