Tuesdays: tee offs, one putts, links to the past

I play golf with my friend, Bob Frey, every Tuesday, along with a group of buddies, many of whom I’ve known since grade school. 

Bob is 86 years old and regularly shoots below his age—in fact, he has recently done so in nearly one hundred successive rounds.

Bob is a phenomenal golfer with skills he honed as a young boy (at Pasatiempo, where his father was the greenskeeper). Bob hits the ball fifty yards farther than me and more often than not one putts the green. Although our group doesn’t quite deify him, we are all amazed and awed by his talent, which has diminished little in his seven decades of playing the game.

Tuesdays: tee offs, one putts, and links to the past

Just a few of Bob’s golf exploits include shagging balls for Ben Hogan in 1952 (he got paid $2), scoring a double eagle on the eleventh hole at Spring Hills, and carding nine holes-in-one, the first ace happening when he was forty years old.

Last year, in honor of Women’s History Month, the Santa Cruz Sentinel printed a short story about Josefa Pérez Soto. Josefa was born in the Villa de Branciforte in the early 1800s. As a young girl, she was called “las más bonita de Santa Cruz.” The article mentioned Josefa’s ancestry dating back to the early Santa Cruz mission days, with both Spanish and Ohlone parentage. Bob told me that day that Josefa was his great-great-great-great-aunt. Wow! Bob is truly a native of Santa Cruz.
Last week, Bob handed me copies of some newspaper obituaries from the Sentinel. (The paper was founded in 1856.) The articles traced his family back to a Spanish soldier stationed at Misión de San Antonio in the 1780s, only a dozen or so years after the Portolá Expedition arrived in Alta California. The publications fascinated me since they overlap the period of my historical novel, Five Hundred Moons.

Besides possessing a swath of indigenous blood, Bob’s heritage is full of early Spanish and Mexican ancestors, many of whom held large land grants in the region. Prominent names include the Pérez, Rodríguez, and Castro families. Over time, many of their properties were divided and/or sold, while some were stolen midcentury by the Californios and Anglos in courts controlled by English-speaking authorities.
In 1844, a French whaler named Joseph Frey arrived in Santa Cruz after jumping ship in Monterey and hiding out at Rancho Rincon, an area on the lower San Lorenzo River now known as Paradise Park. Joseph soon married into the Pérez family. His son Clem eventually married a woman named Susan Howell, daughter of an Englishman via Australia. Susan’s mother was a member of the Castro family. When Clem died, he left behind six children, twelve grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and eleven great-great-grandchildren!

Tuesdays: tee offs, one putts, and links to the past

Needless to say, Bob comes from a big family. And he has lots of stories to tell—stories of growing up in Santa Cruz in the forties and fifties when the population was small and the countryside stretched in all directions.

I love hearing about those times. Santa Cruz has changed so much in my lifetime. But some of the place names and experiences remain the same; and at times, it still feels like a small town, especially when enjoying the nineteenth hole with all my old friends.

By the way, Bob shot a 77 at DeLaveaga last Tuesday.
And I won seventeen bucks because he was my partner!

Follow Buzz!