Golfer of the Year
The first SCGA event we played in was in 1941. It was the second year of the tournament. Capt. "Bull" Johnson (I forgot his first name but his nickname was well earned) was very active in CSFA and heard about it. LA County Fire entered a team consisting of:
Bull Johnson, never played golf before;
Hogan Willeford (E31), 10 handicap;
Roy Gorten Fire (Foreman, E31), 15 handicap;
I forgot the fourth.
Bruce McCormick (also the State Amateur Champion) of LA City Fire was in charge of the tournament. He handicapped all teams and determined that LA County Fire was the winner.
It was a perpetual trophy. Roy and I took it back to Station 31 where it stayed for about one year. The war was on and sometime around then it was placed in the trophy case at LA Headquarters. I think after the war it was at Riverside Victoria (private). Next year it ended up at San Diego, then Culver City.
Around 1950, LA County Fire was host at Lakewood Country Club. We played 36 holes on one day for several years. After that we formed a formal assocaition and elected officers.
Submitted by Hogan Willeford
New Golf Club Formed
The first meeting of the new Los Angeles County Fire Department Golf Club was held at the Montebello Golf Course on January 15 and 16. Approximately forty-five members were present for the inaugural meeting.
Through the fine effort in the past on the part of Bob Greer and Bob Yuill, it was unanimously decided that they should be appointed as President and Vice President respectively. Herb Sobul was delegated as Secretary-Treasurer by Bob Greer, President.
Membership fee was set at $1.00 with membership cards to be issued at the next meeting. All County Fire Department employees interested in joining this newly formed club should contact Bob Greer at Engine 13.
County Firemen Win in Golf Tourney
A total of 265 golfers, representing 20 fire departments, participated in the annual Southern California Firemen's golf tournament, which saw the Los Angeles County Fire Department golf delegation win two team trophies and six individual trophies. The annual tournament was held at the Paradise Valley and Municipal courses in Las Vegas, June 6 and 7.
Individual trophy winners:
Championship Flight: 2nd low gross - Jim Moss
A Flight: 1st low net - Bob Greer 2nd low net - Hogan Willeford
B Flight: 1st low net - Bill Bennett 1st low gross - Harry Garside
D Flight: 3rd low gross - Gene Eaton
Team 2 in the A flight won the 1st place perpetual trophy which will be on display for the next year in the trophy case at the L.A. Office.
A Flight: 1st place - Team 2 (Harry Garside, Moby Guzman, Frank Oddo and "Lefty" Orton)
C Flight: 2nd place - Team 1 (Les Coe, Gene Eaton, Ed Giovanetti and Bill Hughey)
Howard Nelson recently mailed the following attachments to me with the these comments:
"Tom, I came across this a while back and thought some of the guys would like to see their old pairings and handicaps. Check out the green fees!"
please forgive me for I am now 70 years old and I can't remember shit!
This is my recollection of the LACoFD Golf Association. I hope this will
help you for the history of our Association.
the County Golf Association in 1963 . . . 44 years, doesn't seem possible.
I first played my golf with Emmet and John Kinney. Emmet and I worked
together at old Station 9. Many of the old timers at Station 9 played golf
with the County. Jack and Clete Hinton were fine golfers. I played a
lot of golf with Nate Wilson who worked at Station 24 and Tom Fowler who worked
at Station 16.
recall, the first LACoFD tournaments were held at Montebello, Rio Hondo and
Whittier Narrows. At that time, I was a boot fireman. I met for the
first time Bob Greer and Will Farmer. They were BIG, TOUGH FIREMEN.
I learned to be Mister Macho! I worked at OLD NINES . . . you know . . .
kick in doors! no air masks . . . beat the crap out of the fire . . .
smoke eaters . . . macho men! Couldn't play golf worth a damn!
But these guys were now my Buddies. Remember Schoony, Ali Dog and the
Animal. I met Paul Delaney, George Demos, Pete Pedersen, Cal Sanders and
Bob Yuill on the golf course before I met them on the fire department.
first meeting of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Golf Association was
held at Montebello Country Club in January 1958. Bob Greer was elected
President and Bob Yuill was elected Vice President. At that time our
membership fee was $1.00 a year. In the 60's, Bob Yuill was now the
President of the Golf Association; I believe it was Bob Yuill who decided to
take our Golf Association to away days. Southern California Golf
Association went to Las Vegas in 1961 . . . a total of 265 golfers from 20
Departments. We played at Hesperia for 3 years, from 1963 to 1965.
We had some great golf and some hell raising times. Poker games till
sunrise, dancing on the tables in the bar at 2:00 a.m. I think we got
kicked out. I can't remember . . . too much Jack Daniels.
We had many away day tournaments, such as the 1973 Bob Yuill's Las Vegas
Classic. Southern California Golf Association went to Pebble Beach in
1972. Get this! The tournament fee for a single golfer was $100,
which included three rounds of golf with cart, four meals and two nights lodging
at the Del Monte Lodge. Such a deal! I believe this year (2007), if
you stay at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, play three rounds of golf and eat four
meals, it will set you back right around $2500. And that's a non-ocean
view room . . . 35 years of inflation! In 1966 we went to Massacre Canyon.
The golf course was at Gillman Hot Springs. The golf course is no longer
there . . . I guess we shut that one down, too! In 1967 we went to San
Clemente Municipal Golf Course and stayed at the San Clemente Inn. I can't
remember why we left Gillman or San Clemente, or if we got kicked out, but I do
remember the dreaded Pie Cart incident at one of those two places. I won't
mention their names, but a couple of firemen stole the pie cart from the
restaurant and went around throwing pies or knocking on doors in rooms with a
pie in the face. Innocent fun!
was 1968 . . . Bob Yuill retired and George Bardwell was elected President.
It was George that introduced us to our beloved Singing Hills. At that
time we played Willow Glen and Oak Glen. Our membership was 120.
George Bardwell was our President from 1968 to 1971. Dean Metcalf was the
President for the year of 1972. Gary Dennis was the President for the year
of 1973; Gary was one of our finest golfers. Soon after, Ralph Derico took
over as President from Gary Dennis. According to Donna Derico, Ralph was
president for 15 years and retired in 1988. Those times at Singing Hills
during Ralph's reign were wild times. The dreaded accident with Bob Davis
going through the windshield, Skip Bennett and Jim Sheppard driving Skip's
Porsche off the cliff overlooking the tennis courts, Dick Bradley driving his
car almost into the swimming pool. Probably the best one of all was the
golf cart in the room on the second floor of the hotel. How it got there I
will never tell. The next day the cleaning lady called the office and said
there was a golf cart in room 212. Impossible . . . I don't think so!
to wear some of the most outrageous clothes playing golf. Remember Johnny
Miller and his checkered pants. He had nothing on us . . . purple and
white striped shorts, American flag golf shirts. One year I wore these
white pants with blue and yellow daisies . . . what a fashion statement! I
talked to Larry Carroll at the Jim Eaton Par Mutuel about the good old days at
Singing Hills. For four years at Singing Hills, the foursome of Jim Eaton,
Keith Chausse, Larry Carroll and Bob Cross would play golf in a different
costume every year . . . the "Cone Heads", the "Blues
Brothers", the "Beach Boys", and "G.I. Joes".
They were fantastic!
to play golf with Tony Virga, Bob Ramsted and Lee Hickman at Singing Hills.
Seems like we were always drunk and raising hell! Some got kicked out of
the association. Not me, I was an angel. Lee Hickman passed away
this year on April 3, 2007. Lee was a great guy! Lee and I played
golf together for over 25 years. He made sure I got home safely after all
those Singing Hills marathons and adult beverages! Another one I will
always remember is Ron Jones, who has since passed away. Every time I
played golf with Ron, whether it was at Singing Hills, Match Play or County
Play, he would have a plastic tumble of Scotch. And this was in the
morning! Ron was a hell of a competitor and a great golfer in his own
right. He was the first golfer I ever played with that shot in the 60's
and he was drunk! Every time the bar cart girl would come by for
refreshments, Ron would say, "Fill this tumbler up with Johnny Walker
Red." We just drank beer.
said the bar tab in the lounge at Singing Hills reached $20,000 a night!
That doesn't count all the beer drank during the Derby and the Scramble.
According to the management at Singing Hills, LACoFD holds the four-day record
for adult beverages consumed . . . beating out L.A. City, the police departments
and even the four days over New Years! Bill Harrison had a battery-powered
blender so we could make Margaritas out on the course. The heck with the
mix . . . most of us just drank Tequila out of the bottle. Thanks to Russ
VanDeMark, we always had plenty of Vodka and Cranberry juice.
the highlight of our tourney at Singing Hills is the Derby! One hundred
drunken firemen, teeing off on the same hole! All those insults when you
are trying to hit your next shot. You know . . . Does your wife play golf?
. . . Nice putt, Helen! You thing those PGA pros are nervous playing in
front of all those galleries. That's nothing compared to the firefighter
who has to tee it up on the 10th hole at Oak Glen on Derby Day! Your knees
are shaking, your hands are sweating, you know you're gonna hook it out of
bounds or slice it into the trees! That's real pressure!
thing we used to do after playing golf for six hours . . . then playing in the
Scramble for another three hours! We used to play shower down for quarters
after golf. Even after dark with flash lights and cigarette lighters.
We putted the ball from every which way . . . behind trees, from inside the room
onto the green and even out of the second story balcony (I don't think that
putting green is there anymore).
to play poker every night until the wee hours . . . sometimes until the next
day. These were table stakes, big bucks games with some pots reaching
$1,000.00 and more. I played poker for more than 20 years with the likes
of Hogie Willeford, Billy Roe, Rusty Hastings, Chuck Willy, Bud Lillard, Leroy
Crawford, Larry Simcoe and many more. I remember the next day we would tee
it up at 0800. The late night group (not me, ha, ha!) would show up at tee
time, with no sleep, no shoes, and still play golf! I remember the time
that Steve Sherrill sat down at the poker table with $1,000.00 and said,
"Let's play some poker!" Two hands later he was broke!
These guys would get so drunk, stay up all night and still play golf the next
day . . . and fall down on the first tee . . . and shoot good scores!
Amazing! The next day after no sleep, we would get up and do it all over
not those mean, bad tempered firefighters. We were the best of the best!
We always meant well. We meant no harm. Just good fun! I
will always remember those good times with my L.A. County Firefighter buddies.
years is a long time! I have no regrets! These past 44 years have
been the best years of my life! Every time I show up at our monthly play,
at Las Vegas, at Tahoe or at Singing Hills I remember the good old days!
These are precious memories!
done a fantastic job, taking over for Ralph and Dale, putting our golf
association into the 21st century. I know you love the golf association as
much as I do!
2007 marks a sad time for the Los Angeles County Fire Golf Association.
Our friend and fellow firefighter Mike Rubick passed away suddenly. Our
prayers go out to Barbara and her family! Mike Rubick was a classy guy, a
true gentleman, a fine golfer! There was something special about Mike.
He always made me feel like I was special! A true friend! We all
will miss him!
is anything I can do to help you with the past history, memories or anything
else, let me know.
God Bless, Dave Stone
I was in the 1st class at the, then new, training center in 1955. My first firemen's golf tournament was "South of the Border" Mexico in 1956. I still have a video that has a few of the drunks afterwards. Over the years we have played tournaments in Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Bakersfield, San Diego and Pebble Beach.
In the beginning, it was Bob Yuill, Bob Greer and Frank Odo setting up the courses for us to play monthly events. Our association began with Yuill as the president, followed by many including George Bardwell, Ralph Derico, Dale Pemberton and Tom Peacock. I may have omitted someone.
The reason for this letter is not to brag about myself, for I have done nothing except to play for 50 years. I want to brag about the aforementioned men who have put their time and money into our association so we can have good times with our fellow workers.
I think we should change the Vegas outing from Pemberton to Michelli and the Michelli (San Diego) to the "President's Cup" with former and present presidents name on a trophy. We could have them tee up for one (1) hole this year at "Singing Hills". Let's do it before it's too late for their due recognition!
What say you, Francis S. Smith
Dear Tom, I want to thank you for recognizing my early efforts to organize a golf club for our fire department.
When I first started playing golf in 1954, there was no organization whatsoever, except some guys from the "Valley" were playing and didn't seem to want anyone else involved. We had one guy, Howard Curd, who was kind of involved, so he would let us know where the "San Gabriel Valleyites" were playing so we would make up a foursome and show up to play.
When I first organized the club, I did everything: called most of the Fire Stations to notify golfers when and where to play; made all the golf course reservations usually one week in advance; figured and kept our individual handicaps (figuring off an SCGA Differential chart given to me by the Rio Hondo Golf Course handicap chairman).
We didn't have all that many golf courses around and not so many golfers playing, except on weekends. Everyone was employed in those days and didn't have time to play during the week, so that opened it up for firemen, who only had to work 72 hours a week and night shift workers. Our pick of golf coursed included Rio Hondo, Western Ave., Fox Hills, Baldwin Hills, Lakewood, and Montebello. As you can see, we never wandered too far from Downey. Fox Hills, way out on Sepulveda and Slauson was as far as we went. Whittier Narrows was built later and was used by our Club with other leaders.
After a couple of years organizing and running everything with hardly any help, I started sniveling and finally convinced Harry Garside to take over from me, and I went back to just playing and drinking beer. And, I must say, everyone who came after me improved the organization, including your tenure.
I am getting pretty old and decrepit now but I look back on all the good times I've had on the golf course and all the friends and acquaintances I have made. During my almost 60 years of trying to swing the golf club, I can almost forget all the arthritis pain which (I am sure) was caused partially by my shitty swing.
Anyway, Tom, I'm sorry I didn't write to you sooner but as you know I've had a lot of problems around our household. We lost Bronelle in October and my wife Linda on January 4th of this year.
I thought I'd send you some of the stuff I ran across while cleaning out drawers. You might enjoy perusing some of the old crap, I have no further use for it. Also, I was talking to Bobby Yuill about some of the old times. He has a lot better memory of how our Golf Club has progressed. I thought he took over after Harry Garside but he didn't, so if you want to get further knowledge you should talk to him. He keeps telling me he's going to write it down but he never does.
I know one thing for sure, when he and John Hosford were running the Golf Club, we made enormous strides as an organization which segued into how Dale worked and now you. I'm proud to be associated with this Golf Association.
Sincerely, Robert L. Greer (First President, L.A. County Firemen's Golf Association)