How the Game Found a Kid from East LA: The Thanksgiving Edition

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Pasadena, CA (Thanksgiving Day, 2016) I have been thinking a lot about my Uncle Al (Lury was his street name) these last couple of weeks. Born and raised in East LA, part of pachuco culture, Uncle Lury was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Yet, he was the golf force in my family and arguably the best golfer of the clan (I’d like to have a go with him now that I have matured in the game. Unfortunately, he passed a few years a go). The game was not introduced to the family through Lury, that honour was reserved for my Uncle Eddie, another product of the mean streets of East LA. As an adult, Eddie worked for the Lockheed Corporation in Lancaster, CA and that is where the game was introduced to him. The game penetrated my clan through my uncles. Bad ass golfers. Tough guys. Make fun of their participation in the game and you would, no doubt, get an ass kicking. Both so volatile that they could no longer maintain a golf relationship. Too competitive, too much family history and politics. My dad picked up the game from Eddie and Lury. He was another man with humble roots. Pachuco culture, ex-military and street hustler. My pop even took a bullet as a kid when he was caught stealing apples (yup, apples) from a local East LA apple orchard. At first I was too young to accompany this eclectic threesome. It was the early sixties. Yet, I was well aware of the game. My dad and I watched Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, and the mas chingon Lee Trevino on TV. We would even venture to Riviera to catch a glimpse. Little by little my dad realed me in. First, mini-golf, then par-3 courses (the photo above of Pico Rivera Golf Course was the epicenter of my developing relationship with the game. Pico Rivera is one of the oldest barrios in L.A. County). Eventually my game improved to hit the big course(s). Usually Whittier Narrows in Rosemead, CA. My uncles would join us and I became the fourth. I was now hanging with the men who developed my sense of machismo. I drank their whiskey and beer before my tenth birthday. It was a young boy’s rite of passage. Their companionship meant more than the game to me but I witnessed their dedication to the game. Competitive men translating a country club game to a fist fight all the while maintaining the game’s decorum. Golf was not a game to me initially, it was a coming of age. It was macho…and it was golf. Fast forward 50 years, I am standing on the tee at the Old Course at St. Andrews, I tee my ball and address it and I had to back off. I walked behind my ball, took it all in and thanked my Uncle’s Eddie and Lury and my dad, Arthur. A spiritual moment when a kid from East LA came face to face with the home of golf. Happy Thanksgiving.

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