i’ve written about it many times here.

It is almost a ritual.

The two guys in the foreground are Marty Linville and Rod Stark. Rod is taking practice swings. The three of us began playing golf together in the mid-1980’s when we were all on our last military tours. Marty was the Army’s gift to the Navy’s Amphibious School, Coronado, taught gunfire control, and managed the big gun shooting range on San Clemente Island (about seventy miles west of San Diego). Rod was the director of amphibious training and later became the executive officer of the command. i was the director of leadership and management training for the West Coast and Pacific Rim in addition to facilitating the two-day seminar on Command Excellence for senior officers.

With a pretty rigorous schedule, the only time we could play was on weekends. It was difficult getting tee times on the four Navy courses (Sea ‘n Air on the North Island Naval Air Station, Admiral Baker North and South in the Naval Base recreation area in Mission Valley, and then Miramar, which was a Navy Air Station before the Marines took it under BRAC. One reason for our difficulties was retired folks were also getting tee times. We bitched about old farts taking up weekend tee times when they could play during the week.

So we vowed once we retired we wouldn’t play military courses on the weekend to give more tee times for active duty personnel. Except for tournaments and later Sunday rounds with Pete Toennies and our wives, we have stuck to that vow.

Then in 1991, Marty and i played a weekday round and discussed the situation. Marty had just gone to a 4/10 work week. i was mister mom. So we decided we could play Sea ‘n Air, Baker, and Miramar on Fridays. Rod, who after retiring was the golf pro for the North Course in Sun City, California, had quit that job when we ran into him at Miramar one morning in the mid-90’s. He joined our Friday bunch then. Since those first rounds in 1991, we have played golf at a local military golf course almost every Friday, teeing off early. i have actually made it understood when i worked at Scripps Consulting Group, military contractors, and Pacific Tugboat Services i would not be available to work on Friday mornings.

We call it “Friday Morning Golf.” i have shortened that to FMG. We have had as many as 16 golfers in our group and as few as two. Now, we come close to filling up two foursomes every Friday.

i have posted photographs before, nearly all on the fifteenth tee. The tee and the fairway borders the Navy beach (it used to be called “dungaree beach” for it was where sailors would escape from work when possible and loll about on the beach, but now is a big attraction for all Navy personnel, dependents, retirees, and others). The tee box gives one a great view of the majestic Point Loma, the Rosecrans Military Cemetery, and the wide expanse of the Pacific, not to mention if one turns around the iconic Hotel Del Coronado and the sprawling city of Tijuana are visible to the south. And routinely, we watch my ships, haze gray in their military splendor standing in or standing out of the channel.

But this photo is from the eleventh tee, the shorter one on the small hill rather than the longer flat one to the north. We are waiting for the group in front of us to clear the large par three green. The marine layer i often write about is hanging low over the Pacific, the brown and gray flat area from the middle to the right side of the photo is the beginning of the East to West runway for the air station. It is nearly always the flight path for landing aircraft unless a Santa Ana wind is blowing. So not only do we get to play golf in a rather idyllic setting, we also get to see FA 18’s, Ospreys, helicopters, training aircraft, others, and every once in a while even a C5 seemingly hung in the air trundling overhead like an airborne but very large snail headed for a landing. It is satisfying to know our successors are defending our country well.

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