Golf

From a 27-trillion-to-1 feat to losing an eye, local golf scene offers remarkable tales

Bob Fleming, left, Dan Condie and Marc Arcuri consecutively scored a hole in one on the 15th hole at Antelope Greens on April 13, 2005. In the background is Dave Schumacher, who witnessed the feat, estimated at 27 trillion to 1.
Bob Fleming, left, Dan Condie and Marc Arcuri consecutively scored a hole in one on the 15th hole at Antelope Greens on April 13, 2005. In the background is Dave Schumacher, who witnessed the feat, estimated at 27 trillion to 1. Sacramento Bee file

Catching up with some of the most memorable people in local golf from the past 15 years.

Bob Fleming, 68; Marc Arcuri, 65; Dan Condie, 59

2005 (April 13): Fleming, Arcuri and Condie, in that order, each made a hole in one on consecutive shots on No. 15 at Antelope Greens, a 108-yard par-3. The odds of the feat were estimated at 27 trillion to 1. Awe and skepticism abounded as the story went international. Dave Schumacher, the fourth member of the group, teed off first and missed the green.

Now: Arcuri is the president of the Sacramento Golf Council, Fleming is a member of the golf council and Condie is a teaching pro at Morgan Creek.

The three accomplished players still golf in the same circles, often at Antelope Greens, but it’s rare that all three play together. Fleming and Arcuri are comfortable in the knowledge of their accomplishment and, being golfers, understand the doubters. Condie, almost 13 years later, still has issues with the naysayers. “You say it doesn’t bother you, but it does,” he said.

All three agree that Matt Lauer’s recent fall from grace was a tad ironic considering that the NBC journalist became the de facto arbiter of truth when he declined to speak with the players for a scheduled “Today” show segment in the days following. “We each got a little chuckle out of that,” Arcuri said.

Their achievement still comes up, they said, but far less frequently than it did in the year after. Fleming said his buddies, when playing with someone who don’t know him, will ask them if they’ve heard of that far-fetched three holes-in-one story. “Knowing they almost always will say, ‘Yeah, that was total bull.’ And then they like to point to me and say, ‘There’s one of the guys right there.’ 

If they had made three consecutive aces in front of a crowd of witnesses, at a pro-am or some such, their lives wouldn’t be any different, they said, but theirs would be the definitive hole-in-one story to beat worldwide as opposed to the footnote that it is.

As it is: “That whole year was fun,” Fleming said. “We knew it was true. We were getting our 15 minutes of fame. I would not have believed it if it had not happened to me.”

Dillon Dougherty, 35

2006: A Masters qualifier via his runner-up finish in the 2005 U.S. Amateur, the longtime Woodland resident provided Bee readers a behind-the-scenes peek at Augusta National, where he spent the week on the grounds in the Crow’s Nest with the other amateurs in the field.

Now: After seven years playing professionally with moderate success and two years as a golf pro in La Quinta, he’s moved back home and has been a financial adviser in Sacramento for two-plus years.

He was a history major at Northwestern. “I started as an economics major, but when my college golf career took off, I thought I was too busy for econ. History was a little easier on a traveling athlete.”

His playing career ended at the 2013 PGA Tour qualifying tournament when he bogeyed three of the final four holes in the second stage and missed advancing to the final stage by one shot.

“I loved every minute of it,” he said of his playing career. “There were ups and downs. Looking back, there were tons of things I would have done different, but it was a great experience and I have no regrets how it ended or where I am now.”

And he’ll always have Augusta.

Martin Fine, 52

2009: Lost the sight in his right eye when a ball he hit ricocheted off the trunk of a tree on the 18th hole Valley Hi Country Club.

Now: He is still the principal at Isabelle Jackson Elementary School in Elk Grove. He still loves golf. He still has the same positive outlook on life.

“I pay more attention to sunrises and sunsets because with one eye, you can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “I try to teach my kids that, to appreciate all these great things that you see.”

His handicap index is a 5.2, about the same as it was when the 3-wood shot he was trying to cut around a juniper tree ricocheted and dropped him to the ground before he had finished his swing. As bad as if was, doctors told him that an inch either way and he could have lost the sight in both eyes or been killed.

When he started playing again, his friends gave him a free drop when his ball ended up behind a tree. “That doesn’t happen anymore, trust me,” he said. “Not with money on the line.”

He wears protective glasses when he plays and punches out sideways more often than not. He struggles with his lack of depth perception in bunkers, from bad lies and from 60-70 yards. “Range finders don’t help you with feel shots,” he said.

He has a prosthetic that’s so good people swear they can’t tell which is is real eye, but the topic still comes up on occasion. “Someone will say, ‘Hey, aren’t you the guy who ...’ Yep.”

Sarah (Huarte) Glynn, 35

2009: The St. Francis High School graduate and 2004 NCAA Division I individual champion while playing for Cal stepped away from playing professionally to take the job as the women’s golf coach at USF.

Now: She resigned in May and moved to Folsom with her husband, Sean, a club pro at Cameron Park, and two daughters, ages 3 and 6.

She enjoyed college coaching, which continued to feed her competitive side. “If I could have brought my job with me, I would have.”

With sister Laura Meagher, a former track and field athlete at Notre Dame, she’s co-founded Next Level Coaching and Consulting, which offers private coaching and recruiting guidance for college-bound athletes.

Larry Seelig, 55

2009: The Penn Valley resident posted 407 rounds, mostly at Lake Wildwood and Nevada County Country Club, wearing shorts during every one.

Now: He averages “only about 200” rounds a year. He didn’t even keep a specific count last year.

“I’ve cut back quite a bit. I could still do it again, though,” with an air of confidence.

He’s gotten into hot rods and spends Saturdays that used to be reserved for golf in Grass Valley showing off his 1933 Ford pickup and 1974 Corvette while talking cars.

The quality of his golf hasn’t suffered. His handicap index, 7.2 at the end of 2009, is 3.3.

Aaron Heinz, 45

2009: After being selected as Sacramento’s Most Embarrassing Golfer for a Bee project while shooting between 120 and 140, he spent eight months working with teaching pro Brett Taylor and then shot a respectable 104 in his “final exam” at Empire Ranch. He had not broken 100.

Now: He shoots in the 90s regularly and had his best round ever last month, a 91 at Diamond Oaks. His handicap index is a 26.1.

“I actually have a consistent draw,” he said. “My putting has come along. If there’s a weakness, and it’s a glaring one, the wedge game suffers when you don’t play a lot.”

He’s still golfs with Steve Coppedge, the friend who nominated him for the most embarrassing “honor.” The distinction still comes up on occasion, he said. “It’s usually when I’m playing with someone I don’t know, we’re having a nice day and they think I’m an OK golfer, I’ll tell them who they’re really playing with.”

Tim Goodell, 50

2010: After seven years as Nick Watney’s caddie, including the first two of Watney’s five PGA Tour wins, the Folsom resident was let go.

Now: He has worked for several years at Schaffer’s Mill in Truckee, the last few as the gate house greeter. He continues to be the guy with the easy laugh and big smile on his face.

He looped for Chesson Hadley, then a 23-year-old tour hopeful, soon after parting with Watney but opted to carry for Jason Gore in 2011. Hadley has become a solid player and PGA Tour winner. “I made the call to go with Gore,” he said. “No regrets. You pick your horse and ride that horse until you get bucked off.” He also carried for Andrew Svoboda. His last gig was for Nathan Green at Pebble Beach in 2014, ending a 26-year caddie career.

“I miss my caddie buddies; the guys I traveled with for 20 years are like my brothers,” he said. “I miss the camaraderie, but I don’t miss the caddying. I got that out of my system.”

He stays in touch with Watney. “I love Nick. I always root for Nick and vice versa. The love’s always there between us.”

Mike Nemee, 47

2012: The owner/builder/designer of Trinitas, the breathtaking course forged out of a Calaveras County olive orchard and shrouded in mystery and controversy, announced that the course was closing after five years because of legal and financial issues.

Now: He’s moved from the course-abutting property, where some of his family and in-laws still live, to Stockton, where he works as an industrial flooring contractor, a job he held while building and operating the course.

“Life out of the public eye is all roses and unicorns,” he said.

With a golf bag and shirts that sport the Trinitas logo, he said he is often asked, “Did you play that golf course? I heard it was special. I just say, ‘Yes, I played it a few times.’ I hear other people to this day who try to communicate to future generations what that place meant and how special it was.”

Cattle now graze on the property. Driving past, if you didn’t know a golf course had been there, you would not know by the way it looks now, he said.

Isaac Sanchez, 38

2012: On the eve of his introduction to American golf fans via his debut on “Big Break Greenbrier,” the Golf Channel reality series, the Folsom pro espoused an unconventional prove-yourself-locally plan for his golf career. Instead of chasing lightning-in-a-bottle results at things such the PGA Tour qualifying tournament, he planned to first prove he could make a living in gambling games, pro-ams and state opens.

Now: He began his first 9-to-5 job late in 2016, trading in life on the mini tours to accept a position with American River Ag, providers of organic dairy feed.

“I had a dream of playing on the PGA Tour. I got there and it was the greatest thing,” he said. “Life has pointed me in another direction.”

Sanchez was a “Big Break Greenbrier” semifinalist. In 2013, he won “Big Break NFL Puerto Rico” to earn a spot in the 2014 FedEx St. Jude Classic on the PGA Tour. He now plays golf for business, charity and enjoyment, “Not to make a dollar of it,” he said. His continued participation in “Driven,” a Comcast SportsNet show he does alongside 2012 world long-drive champion Ryan Winther of Sacramento, is mostly for fun.

The personable man called “Sasquatch” because of his 6-foot-6, 300-pound stature said he still gets recognized when he travels, and almost always at the golf course, after his extended Golf Channel exposure. “It’s overwhelming and completely flattering to this day,” he said. “People still check in on me. People are still rooting for me. It makes me emotional just thinking about it. I hope I helped other people see that they can chase their dreams a little bit, too.”

Marty Boyer, 68

2013: Responding to a story about a dozen men who traveled to play golf at Oregon’s Bandon Dunes, she lamented that the all-female golf travel group was only a dream.

Now: She’s found a promising group that calls Wildhorse home, but she hasn’t found that group of women who are willing to pick up their sticks and get on a plane.

She hasn’t let that keep her grounded. Since 2013, she’s been to Sawgrass, Sea Island, Sahalee, Chambers Bay (36 holes walking in a day) and Whistling Straits in America, and Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and the National in Australia by herself.

“I continue to knock off wonderful dream courses, having a blast even when alone,” she said. “But the prospects for more women traveling partners seems brighter. Bring on 2018!”

Tom Johnson, 36

2015: Eight years after his last PGA Tour start, the Del Campo High School graduate finished 51st at the Sony Open, then opened up about his longtime addiction to drugs and alcohol that included smoking marijuana before each of the 70-plus PGA Tour rounds he played in 2007.

Now: He has been drug- and alcohol-free since July 5, 2013.

After a spiritually satisfying and personal-growth promoting last fling as a touring professional on the Asian Developmental Tour in 2015-16, he landed the job as the lead instructor at Golden Gate Park Golf Course, a par-3 course with ocean views operated by the First Tee of San Francisco.

“I thought I would wind up at some country club booking tee times and folding sweaters,” he said. “I get to 100 percent teach golf. Beginners, juniors, it feels great. It’s fulfilling, gratifying work. It’s sharing and not just seeing what I can get out of the game anymore.”

Hiram Johnson High School golf teams

2016: After Hiram Johnson golf coach Chris Latino shared the challenges he faced introducing the game to his student-athletes at a school where economics dictated that the team practice in a field on the grounds and use deficient clubs and other equipment such as a makeshift club carrier crafted from plastic buckets, there was an outpouring of support from the community.

Now: After a room full of clubs and thousands of dollars poured in in the story’s aftermath, all kinds of good things have happened. A simulator was purchased, as was a swing trainer tube and nets and mats to allow for indoor practice during inclement weather. More practice rounds are possible. Team shirts, shorts and shoes were purchased. Every player gets his or her own set of clubs and a bag for the season. Every senior who exhibits a desire to continue playing after graduation is given a set of used clubs.

It all has led to improved play and, even better, more interest. After a two-year hiatus, there again is a girls team. The boys team had nine members last season after failing to field a full six-man team in previous years.

A few particularly generous donors continue to support the program, funding events such as post-season banquets that foster team unity.

“A lot has changed,” said Latino, 43, who has coached golf at the school for eight years.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but I just keep my fingers crossed that we’re going to keep doing it.”

Steve Pajak: (916) 326-5526.

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