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Favorite Week of the Year
Saturday, 5:20 am. It was a cold and foggy morning in Pacific Palisades. The only lights you could see were coming from my Riviera issued golf cart. The deer at this time were scurrying back into their homes on the outskirts of the course. The work day had only just begun.
The range had to be up and running by six, range balls packed, and the members happy. If the range was stocked, I worked in the bag room, or cleaned up brush around the course. In between work, I snuck a look at the pictures inside the clubhouse and learned a lot about the history of the course, and it’s champions - Hogan, Mangrum, Pavin, Sutton, Elkington, and many more. The job was certainly tedious at times, but I’ve never regretted it. The Head Pro at Riviera, Todd Yoshitake, gave me a chance to work there after calling several days in a row about the position.
I played on the Palisades High Golf Team at the time, just a short drive up the road from Riviera. Knowing this, Todd allowed me to hit balls on the far range at Riviera, and practice in the short game area. So I did. From whenever I got off work until the sun went down. I perhaps overdid it on some occasions, but I couldn’t help it. Opportunities to practice on grass are few and far between in West L.A.
The day eventually came when I was allowed to caddy. I knew golf, but the prospect of caddying for some of Hollywood’s entertainment and business elite was a little nerve-racking. I learned the ins and outs of the course quickly, and made friends amongst the members. I even got to play the course on Mondays.
In 2005, I finally got my chance to work during the tournament - at that time it was called The Nissan Open. I’ll never forget that Justin Rose was the first to appear, I believe the weekend before the tournament began. We hustled throughout the week, filling in divots from the Pro-Am days, stockpiling the “range balls” (brand new Pro V1’s for most players), and making sure everything went smoothly. We did our part to ensure the success of the tournament, but nature was another story.
Some of you may remember that in 2005, the event was shortened due to rain. In the entire time I worked there, that week had the most rain of any other I can remember. The ball-picker got stuck in the mud on more than one occasion, and I basically lived in a poncho that week. Because of the onslaught of rain, the players could only finish 36 holes. Adam Scott was the winner, but it’s not actually counted as an official victory. Looking back though, it was cool to work during the event at a course I knew so well.
The summer of 2005 was the last time I worked at famed Riviera, but someday I hope to return, only then as a player.
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