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Golf Club Atlas – Eckenrode Interview – Part I

It’s interesting with all of the focus of late on par-3 or “short” golf courses that this was how I started in the game as well. My dad started me in lessons, around the age of 12 and I remember my early rounds on the course there, playing with him and assorted old-timers and just loving it. I also fondly remember “moving up” to an executive course, which was mostly par-3’s but had a few “big” holes, which were probably short par-4’s, but didn’t seem so at the time! So for me, it really was a progression onto courses larger and larger.


After a year or so, this meant my jump to the first full course I’d played, which is called Spring Hill Golf Course, in a very rural part of south Santa Cruz County, California. I was 13 or 14 years old at the time and I was pretty hooked on golf. Summer came around, and luckily I had a buddy who lived nearby interested as well, so our parents would drop us off at Spring Hills in the morning and pick us up at the end of the day. The Junior Golf rates were $5, I recall, which was all-you-can-play golf, with a hot dog and a coke at the turn. What a deal! We played 36 holes practically every day, and I remember that was the first summer I broke 90, then soon after broke 80, and that was it! I was all-in at that point.


The course was lovingly called a “farm” course, I recall, which was respective of its setting, and it had a mid-western feel to it. There was agriculture around it, and the conditions were probably not perfect, but it was a fun golf course, and laid on the land naturally.


As I moved on to play in high school, I began working and playing out of Pasatiempo Golf Club, and what a move that was. I remember realizing that this was a special golf course, but of course had no idea why. There was knowledge and slight promotion of the MacKenzie history there. But this was all before the discovery of the amazing Julian Graham photos by Bob Beck, and of course the great restoration of the course by Tom and Jim and their talented guys in the field. Needless to say, Pasatiempo would influence me greatly, mostly in ways unknown at the time.


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